Research Cautions Brands On How They Use Consumers’ Data

From a consumer’s perspective, how brands use their data is as important as the information they collect. Research from digital agency Accenture Interactive reports that a majority of consumers—69 percent—say they would not do business with a brand if its data usage was invasive.

“Today’s leading brands are using data not only to make relationships with customers more relevant and useful but more meaningful, too—creating experiences with a purpose—and learning where to draw the line between invasive and inventive,” says Glen Hartman, head of Accenture Interactive, North America and global digital marketing lead. “The good news is there is a big opportunity for brands to take a thoughtful approach to data and create an impactful customer experience while doing so—building trust and an emotional connection customers crave.”

Accenture Interactive’s 2019 Consumer Pulse Survey: See People, Not Patterns surveyed more than 8,000 consumers globally, and found that around 73 percent of consumers are willing to share more personal information if brands are transparent about how it is used, up from 66 percent in 2018.

“The research findings pose a question to brands when thinking about data: ‘Has data collection gone too far?’” says Scott Tieman, global lead for Programmatic Services, Accenture Interactive. “Many consumers report that brands don’t know them well enough to serve them in a way that makes them feel special, but when brands seem to know too much—and act on that knowledge—they can inadvertently lose consumers’ trust. We are at an important point in digital advertising where brands need to be purposeful with their data acquisition approach that is transparent and good for the brand – and the consumer.”

The research finds that among consumers who said a brand had communicated in a way that was too personal, over 71 percent said it was because a brand had information about them or their family that they didn’t share directly. Accenture’s report notes, “People expect someone they’ve never met not to recognize them and the same logic applies digitally. Forward-thinking brands are finding ways to approximate how humans behave, in a humane and ethical way.”

Accenture’s data also shows that consumers want brands to know and understand them: 87 percent of consumers said it’s important to purchase from a brand or retailer that “understands the real me.” However, consumers don’t want brands to go too far and violate their privacy. More than 75 percent of consumers say they are uncomfortable with data collection via microphone or voice assistant and 51 percent said invasive ads are on the rise. Nearly 30 percent of consumers said a brand had gotten “too personal” and 69 percent of these consumers would stop doing business with a brand or reconsider their relationship to the brand because of this. More than nine out of 10 consumers (93 percent) agree it’s important that every interaction with a brand is “excellent.”

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