A survey of American consumers has found that 78% are concerned about protecting their sensitive personal data, and 42% now refuse to give it out for any reason. The London-based data privacy company Privitar, which compiled the data, said that businesses should take this as a wake up call: Privacy is paramount.
The results of the survey are unsurprising, and fall in line with previous surveys about privacy concerns, like the one conducted by Okta in June 2020, which found similar information about high levels of distrust and concern over what’s being gathered and how it’s being used.
Also like the Okta report, Privitar found a disconnect between what consumers think about data privacy and how they behave: Despite concerns, 43% aren’t even aware if a company they use has been the victim of a data breach, and only a quarter say they read privacy notices.
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Disconnects aside, privacy and data security consistently registered as an important topic to respondents, 78% of whom said they want the government to play a greater role in protecting their data.
The COVID-19 pandemic, in which sharing personal data has become an essential part of tracking the spread of the virus, hasn’t budged most people, either: 51% are still unwilling to share personal data for any reason.
Respondents also cite privacy as a top consideration for their loyalty to a brand: 31% say a commitment to protecting data is the most important factor in brand loyalty, and 40% say it’s the brand’s overall trustworthiness, of which its honesty about data privacy is likely a factor.
“The results of the survey affirm the growing need for brands to focus on building and maintaining this trust, starting first and foremost with protecting customer data. As more businesses utilize the cloud to enable data driven insights, a firm commitment to data privacy will help to ensure long-term loyalty, consumer satisfaction and shareholder value,” said Privitar CEO Jason du Preez.
Rather than viewing increasingly critical positions on privacy and data sharing as detrimental to business, organizations should see it as a way to build loyalty, Privitar suggests.
“While often referring to affordable costs and personalization as a means to keeping business moving, many overlook the importance of instilling a more personal sense of trust within their customer base,” the report states.
24% of customers said they reduced or stopped doing business with companies that suffered a data breach, and that number could be higher if the 43% who are unaware of whether a company has been breached were informed. Losing a quarter of business (not accounting for that additional 43%) could be devastating to a company suffering a data breach.
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“As markets grow increasingly competitive in a fluctuating economy, it’s critical for businesses to keep customer loyalty high–and as such, be more open and transparent with how they’re using personal data,” the report said.