Going public with consumer views on privacy: Future Flash

Laura Simpson from McCann Worldgroup, shared details of a recent privacy study, and discussed how brands can speak to the multiple personas people present online.

According to research from McCann Worldgroup, consumers would rather have their house broken into than have their bank account information leaked online. This reveals the underlying insight that in what Laura Simpson, global IQ director at McCann Worldgroup, called “a brave new world of sharing,” people are most concerned with protecting data around their personal information security.

Details of the study were presented by Simpson at day two of the ICA’s Future Flash conference. The study was conducted by McCann’s Truth Central research division and asked 6,500 people questions about online privacy in the US, UK, Hong Kong, Japan, India and Chile.

Privacy concerns were second only to worrying about a further financial crisis, coming out ahead of consumers being distressed about things including terrorism and climate change, said Simpson.

One of the main opportunities around the area of consumers and online privacy comes from recognizing and speaking to the dual personas of virtuous and popular that most people present online, says Simpson. The virtuous persona is the one most likely shown to the work world and family, and the popular one is for friends. As one survey respondent from India said of their virtuous online image, “I like to present a clean image in front of my family and friends so I hide my party pictures and friend list.”

The survey also revealed that the majority of consumers are aware that brands are tracking and targeting information to them online, with 65% of respondents saying they are aware companies use computers to track websites people visit and 78% saying they know companies store information about people.

Consumers questioned in the study broke down into five main groups on a scale of willingness to share information, with the majority of people (37%) falling into the category of Savvy Shopppers. The Savvy Shopper is most likely to make judgements about what information to share, said Simpson. The other consumer groups were Eager Extroverts (15%), Sunny Sharers (20%), Cautious Communicators (9%) and Walled Warriors (19%).

The Savvy Shoppers not only recognizes what information is being shared, but also the benefits of revealing those details with companies, said Simpson. Over 60% of the Savvy Shopper group said they consider getting better access to discounts and promotions a major benefit of sharing online data and 50% said they like sharing data because it gives them access to things they are actually interested in.

In general, surveyed consumers said they are interested in having ads tailored to them online, and are most likely to be unconcerned with sharing their shopping information online, as they feel it is the least connected to their identity. Financial data was the data most closely linked with personal identity, followed by medical, personal and location information.