Giving Up Privacy for Convenience
By Lisa Ciangiulli, Optism Team, Apr 6, 2012
Recently, I discussed that the wrong questions were being asked about the development of the mobile wallet – namely, that that there was not enough industry focus on the needs of the consumer. This week, I focus on the privacy of the consumer and how much personal information a consumer is willing to give up for convenience.
The practice of gathering Big Data by marketers will impact the consumer on two fronts; their privacy and the ability for brands and businesses to deliver a better shopping experience for them. Marketers have always had data on consumers, except the amount of data was not as big and it was fairly anonymous. The data was more about an average person’s behavior over a specific period of time within a certain demographic. For the most part, marketers could blast advertising messages and expect fairly consistent results.
Now that has all changed.
The internet, social media and mobile have changed the equation. We are not passive customers anymore. We validate product claims on Yelp, Consumer Reports and Facebook. We pose questions to others and get almost immediate feedback. We make “individual” decisions that can’t always be predicted or calculated. We are opting-out of traditional marketing and opting-in to programs from brands and businesses that are asking us for our permission and respecting our privacy choices.
In an article last week in Marketingland entitled Give It Up For Mobile Data, Rachel Pasqua of Organic discussed the battle over “big data” between consumers and marketers. She starts off by making an excellent point about the Myth of the Average Consumer.
- “So I’m actually not the average consumer. But then neither are you. No one is. The average consumer is an urban myth– which makes the traditional tactics we use to target them semi-effective, at best. They didn’t coin the phrase “banner blindness” for nothing. I block out a good 95% of the ads I see because they are meaningless to me.”
Pasqua dismisses the concept of the average consumer because privacy comes down to the decisions each individual makes and each decision is different. Every second, a consumer is faced with the choice of whether to give up their privacy in exchange for information. There are three values; the consumer’s desire to protect his or her privacy, the value of the offer and the level of trust the consumer has of the business. If the value of the offer is greater than the value of privacy and the level of trust does not impact the offer then the transaction is completed. If not, no deal.
Pasqua says that Google Maps is good example of this. The service has completed millions of these “privacy” transactions, as the value of not getting lost is more valuable than the desire to keep your location secret from Google. Now that the consumer is aware of the privacy equation, he or she can decide what information to provide, changing us from average, passive consumer to active, aware consumers making individual decisions.
Mobile takes this even farther because it increases the number of privacy transactions we are faced with every day. The weather app wants to know where I am. The travel app wants to know if I want to monitor flights to a certain city. The clothing retailer wants keep my shirt size and my kids’ size.
Brands, businesses and mobile apps have a responsibility to inform the consumer about the data they are collecting and how they are using it. And provide this privacy information in a way that consumers can truly understand – not pages and pages of small print and complex language.
At Optism, we call this behavior Thinking Human and we have outlined best practices about how being transparent with consumers pays off in the end. By being clear about the ramifications of the privacy decisions one makes, it lessens the chance that the consumer could become disappointed by the experience. Additionally, giving the user some control over their profile and how their information is being used improves the experience and customer relationship. This thinking helps to build trust, increasing the likelihood of additional transactions and fosters loyalty which ideally leads to more business.
Take our Facebook poll, What information are you willing to give to a company for making your life more convenient?