The majority of Australians are concerned about data privacy, with 50 per cent stating companies are requesting too much personal information, according to new research by Toluna, a leading consumer intelligence platform.
The research, which surveyed 1063 Australians between 9-11 August 2021, showed varying levels of trust between companies, and that Australians are willing to give up some of their personal information in exchange for loyalty rewards, for entertainment purposes, or even to receive targeted advertising.
The findings revealed a high level of awareness about data collection, with 85 per cent of Australians aware that companies like Facebook, Google, and media publishers are collecting and using their personal data. However, the same percentage (85 per cent) said they were concerned about the information collected by these companies; with half (50 per cent) saying companies are requesting too much personal data for their liking.
The biggest concern for consumers around data privacy is the possibility of the data being hacked and their personal information stolen (76 per cent), closely followed by the concern that their data will be shared or sold to other companies (58 per cent).
Real-time data off-limits
When it came to the types of information consumers are willing to share with brands, almost half (49 per cent) are happy to share their entertainment choices, such as movies watched or games played; forty-seven percent are also willing to share their lifestyle information such as hobbies and interests.
Over a third (40 per cent) were happy to share their demographic information with brands, such as age, gender, and income. But only around a third said they’d be willing to share purchase history (33 per cent) or online browsing behaviour (29 per cent), with few willing to share real-time location information, such as GPS data or browser IP (18 per cent).
TikTok most untrustworthy social media platform
When it comes to social media platforms and messaging services, TikTok was ranked as the most untrustworthy platform, with 62 per cent of respondents stating they don’t trust TikTok with their personal data, closely followed by Snapchat (53 per cent), Houseparty (52 per cent) and Twitter (51 per cent).
Just under half (48 per cent) said they didn’t trust Facebook or Instagram with their data (vs. 27 per cent and 23 per cent respectively who did trust these platforms). There was also a lot of distrust for Reddit (48 per cent) and WhatsApp (44 per cent), with slightly less for Pinterest (40 per cent) and LinkedIn (38 per cent).
YouTube came up as the most trustworthy social media platform, and the only one that had more respondents stating they trust the company with their data (35 per cent) than not (33 per cent).
More trust given to retailers than NGOs
Considering the trustworthiness of other organisations, 40 per cent of respondents said they didn’t trust businesses with their personal data, with 35 per cent having the same distrust in brands.
Conversely, a third (36 per cent) of respondents said they do trust retailers with their personal data (vs. only 26 per cent who didn’t), and around the same number (35 per cent) said they trust their data in the hands of airlines. Almost half (44 per cent) also said they trusted the Government to look after their data, with only 29 per cent who didn’t.
Interestingly, thoughts on charities were split, with an even 32 per cent of respondents stating they didn’t trust charities with their data, and another 32 per cent who did (the remaining 36 per cent were on the fence). But NGOs were judged untrustworthy for correct data storage by 42 per cent of respondents, versus only 19 per cent who thought they could trust them.
Feelings were split when it came to targeted advertising, with 40 per cent of respondents stating they were unwilling to receive targeted ads based on their browsing history versus 37 per cent who were ok with targeted ads. Twenty-three percent didn’t mind one way or the other.
Of those willing to receive targeted ads, it was because they wanted ads which were relevant to them (65 per cent) and they wanted a personalised experience (37 per cent). These respondents also said they would be willing to receive targeted advertising from companies who react quickly to hacks (31 per cent), who were considered trustworthy by friends and family (31 per cent), and who publicised how they use consumer data (29 per cent).
For those unwilling to receive targeted advertising, the majority simply thought targeted advertising was irrelevant to them (62 per cent). They were also put off if companies didn’t share their approach to protecting data (32 per cent), if they didn’t publicise the reason they collect data (36 per cent), or if they didn’t react quickly to hacks (25 per cent).
The vast majority of respondents (81 per cent) were a member of a loyalty program (such as FlyBuys, Woolworths Rewards, Qantas, MyDanMurphy’s, etc.), with the majority of those (77 per cent) stating they receive benefits from these programs. A quarter (23 per cent) said they receive little to no benefit from being a member of a loyalty program.
Interestingly, respondents thought it was worth sharing their personal data with loyalty programs, with 61 per cent of respondents stating they get at least some value and recognition for sharing things like personal data and shopping habits.
In terms of benefits, most members (51 per cent) would prefer cash rewards as an incentive, followed by points to collect and redeem for products or services later (38 per cent). Only 12 per cent of respondents said they’d prefer exclusive discounts or offers as a reward.
While a significant number of loyalty members don’t shop around for competing programs (49 per cent), some respondents shopped around a couple of times a year (11 per cent) to see if there were better alternatives on the market; some even look at competing rewards programs as often as every month (14 per cent) or every week (17 per cent).
Taking control of privacy
With privacy concerns high, some Australians are taking matters into their own hands and proactively taking measures to protect their personal data while online. Around a third (33 per cent) said they pay close attention to privacy agreements and half (50 per cent) use different passwords across all online sites. Around one in three disable location-based services on their devices (35 per cent) and disable cookies in their browser (32 per cent). Using a private browsing window (26 per cent), browser add-ons like Ghostery or Ad Blockers (24 per cent), or a VPN to connect to the internet (22 per cent) are other ways Australians protect their privacy online. One in six Australians (17 per cent) set up and use dummy emails for things like promotions, deals, loyalty programs, and social media.
Sej Patel, Country Director, Toluna, Australia & New Zealand said that businesses need to ensure consumers are adequately rewarded for their data.
“Understanding your customers is a core component of business, but as consumers become more savvy about data collection, transparency is key. Businesses need to clearly state the reasons they’re collecting customer information and provide adequate incentives in order to continue to build trust.
“These findings show us that when consumers feel as though they’ve been rewarded for sharing their data–whether that be tailored streaming suggestions or loyalty rewards–that they’re much happier to share this information. Further, the levels of trust found amongst airlines and retailers, who are generally leaders in rewarding customers for sharing data, are viewed as more trustworthy organisations. Businesses across all industries would do well to see how they can reward customers for sharing their data, while also taking all necessary steps to keep it safe.”
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