Consumers As Likely to Trust Foreign Secret Service Org.s As Social Networks With Their Data

February 26, 2014

GBRN-Organizations-Consumers-Trust-With-Data-Feb2014A new study [pdf] released by the Global Research Business Network (GRBN) reveals that few consumers in the US and UK actively trust various types of organizations with their data. Based on a selection of organization types, the study finds that domestic banks and financial institutions are among the most trusted, although only 24% trust them “a lot” (top-2 box score on a 7-point scale). Others organizations pale in comparison, though: social media companies, for example, are about as trusted with data as foreign secret service organizations, according to respondents.

Specifically, just 4% said they trust social networks a lot with their data, against 53% who do not trust them at all (bottom-2 box). By comparison, 4% would trust foreign secret service organizations a lot, against 57% who wouldn’t trust them at all. That’s a fairly shocking result, but comes on the heels of other survey results indicating that Americans have low levels of trust in social networking companies to protect their personal data (results reported here by Ad Age).

Other organizations don’t fare much better:

  • Only 6% trust search engines with their data “a lot”, versus 38% not trusting them at all;
  • Market research companies are trusted a lot by 5%, compared to 41% with no trust for them; and
  • Domestic media companies get the trust of 4%, versus 43% who are distrustful.

Retailers with loyalty card programs appear towards the top of the list, with 1 in 10 consumers trusting them a lot with their data, versus 26% not trusting them at all.

While retailers might be trusted with data more than other organizations, consumers aren’t too fond of being tracked. A separate study released today by SDL indicates that among respondents (from the US, UK and Australia) who have a smartphone, 76% aren’t comfortable with their movements being tracked by retailers in-store, apparently because they don’t understand the reason for the tracking. Of note: a slight majority 55% say they don’t prefer when stores and brands keep track of their purchases in order to help give them promotions that match their preferences. That’s a more pessimistic view of retail personalization than other studies have found.

Not surprisingly, 8 in 10 respondents to the SDL survey are more likely to provide personal information to brands they trust. That’s encouraging news for brands, save for the small matter of those GRBN study results showing that trust is hard to come by…

Other Findings:

  • Some 46% of respondents to the GRBN study perceive data about their location via mobile phone signals to be sensitive personal data, while another 41% see this data as personal.
  • Home addresses are generally perceived as more sensitive than mobile phone numbers and email addresses. Names are also considered more sensitive than websites visited, products and services purchased online and posts made on social media sites.
  • 40% of UK respondents and 45% of US respondents report being very concerned with how their data is used, while an average 62% of respondents to the SDL survey say they are worried about how their personal information is being used for marketing.
  • 3 in 4 global respondents expect consumer protection groups to monitor how brands use personal data.
  • 7 in 10 on average said they rarely or never use “Do not Track” or “Incognito” features online.
  • 65% rarely or never read a website’s privacy policy before making a purchase.
  • Of the various types of information that US respondents would share with brands or stores to receive personalized offers, gender (62%) is most the common, followed by hobbies (52%) and marital status (43%).
  • Only 4 in 10 respondents said they would divulge personal information for free products and services.
  • 55% claimed to not share any more information about themselves on social media than with brands or stores.

About the Data: The GRBN survey was conducted online between the 6th and 9th of February 2014 by Research Now and includes data from 1020 UK interviews and 1015 US interviews (weighted to be representative of the population aged 18+ in each country).

SDL conducted an online survey of more than 4,000 consumers in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. Third party survey companies conducted the survey on behalf of SDL. The survey respondents were not aware the survey was conducted by SDL.

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