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Syniverse Study Highlights Consumers' Mistrust of How Brands Use Personal Data

David Murphy

Syniverse Mary Clark, CMO, Syniverse-001

Clark: "Using big-data elements to personalize services and target promotions is critical to emerging mobile business models and sophisticated brand engagement strategies"

Consumer concern about the use of private personal data is putting emerging mobile business models and brand engagement strategies at risk. That’s the key finding of a new study commissioned by Syniverse, which surveyed more than 8,000 people across eight countries in January to gauge their attitudes towards mobile privacy.

75 per cent of respondents said they don’t trust brands to take care of their data, and almost as many - 71 per cent - said they don’t trust mobile operators to take care of their data. More than 50 per cent of respondents said the trust mobile operators and brands less today than they did three years ago.

The research highlighted several key objections to sharing personal data with brands and mobile operators that undermine consumer trust. 25 per cent of consumers surveyed don’t believe their personal data will be kept private or secure. 21 per cent worry about how their data may be used in the future. And 19 per cent are concerned that their data will be sold to third parties.

On a slightly more positive note, 40 per cent of respondents said they would reluctantly share basic personal data (age, gender and name) in order to improve the experience from their brands and mobile operators. However, fewer than 20 per cent of consumers are willing to share more rich “contextual” data, such as location, browsing history and shopping habits.

The study was carried out by On Device Research in January 2016 in eight countries – UK, US, Brazil, India, China, S. Korea, Germany and France. In each country, 1,000 consumers responded to the survey who were nationally representative of gender balance and who were among the age groups 18-24, 25-34, and 35-44.

After the figures were released, we spoke to Syniverse CMO Mary Clarke about why the company had commissioned the research and what it made of the findings. Here’s what she told us:

“So many brands and industries are refocusing their marketing and brand engagement efforts around a personal interaction. It’s not a mass marketing approach any more; it’s about marketing to the consumer of one, so we felt it was important to try to get the consumer’s perspective on this.

“The results are not surprising; that consumers don’t trust brands and are concerned about how they will use the data they hold on people, but we feel it’s important to give marketers this insight so that they can build a customer journey in a way that overcomes that fear. If people have concerns about sharing their location, for example, what can a brand or a mobile operator do to explain the benefits of sharing that data?

“Using big-data elements – like demographics, location and interaction history – to personalize services and target promotions is critical to emerging mobile business models and sophisticated brand engagement strategies. Success assumes consumers will willingly share personal data in return for more personalized services and more relevant offers along their mobile journey. This assumption is wrong: consumers are far from willing. The research contains many rich and fascinating data points from which much can be concluded. What is clear above all else is that brands and mobile operators face a ‘privacy predicament’ that must be overcome for mobile to continue to flourish.

“But there is also some good news in the data. 37 per cent of consumers think that brands should be able to personalise the service they offer and 21 per cent of respondents told us that they would expect to see an improvement in the offers made to them as a result of personalisation. The challenge for brands now is to look at how they engage with consumers, how their permission-based marketing process actually works, how they leverage their previous purchase history and what they know about them to communicate with them in a more relevant and engaging manner, and what they are going to do for them that gives them the positive customer experience they need to have. All the while, remaining conscious of the need to respect these issues of privacy, security, transparency, and the idea that the consumer is in control.”