Crossing the line: Staying on the right side of consumer privacy

Crossing the line

KPMG’s survey of almost 7,000 consumers in 24 countries regarding in what circumstances they felt comfortable or uneasy about their personal data use


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Staying on the right side of consumer privacy

The digital economy has allowed organisations to collect more information about their customers than ever before. Consumers benefit from this closeness by receiving an easier, better and more customised experience.

But while consumers understand their data is being collected and the organisations they deal with on a daily basis are potentially using it in a number of unknown ways, indiscriminate personal data collection risks alienating consumers and 'creeping them out'.

KPMG asked almost 7,000 consumers in 24 countries a series of questions to understand in what circumstances they felt comfortable or uneasy about the use of their personal data – to discover where the so-called ‘creepy line’ lay.

A guide for organisations to help them navigate consumer sensitivities

Understanding consumers’ sensitivities around the use of their personal data is central to establishing and maintaining trust between consumer and company:

  • Over half of respondents said they were happy to share personal data on gender, education and ethnicity online
  • Less than 20 percent were happy to disclose information on their online search history, income, location, address or medical records
  • 55 percent of people said they had decided against buying something online due to privacy concerns
  • Respondents in most countries say control over privacy is more important than convenience
  • In all markets but one, at least 75 percent of respondents said they were uneasy with their online shopping data being sold to third parties
  • Over two-thirds of people are not comfortable with smart phone and tablet apps using their personal data
  • Half of survey respondents already delete their internet browser cookies or manage their social media privacy settings
  • Almost one-third use incognito or ‘do not track’ modes when browsing the web
  • 25 percent use encryption to protect their personal data
  • Only around half of people would accept free or cheaper products in exchange for less privacy 

Adapt to survive

Personal data is the fuel of our future economy – a source of revenue and driver of prosperity. As the public becomes more aware of the threat to their privacy, new business models are emerging to deal with consumer concerns, presenting both opportunities and challenges to existing businesses.

For companies seeking to use consumer data to personalise their marketing and services to the individual, build brand loyalty and develop better products, it is important they understand that although opinions on privacy vary around the globe, it is clear that, more than anything, consumers value privacy over convenience.

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