Consumer data undeniably transforms businesses, offering insights into behavior and preferences and enabling organizations to create a more tailored and targeted online experience.
In theory, companies have long been responsible for managing the data they collect to ensure privacy and security. And today, there are laws regulating data protection.
Despite this, studies show that consumer trust in organizations and their data protection policies is still decreasing, particularly among millennials.
Why Collect Consumer Data?
The consumer data you collect creates both an opportunity for organizations and a responsibility.
The opportunity: to improve your consumer engagement.
The responsibility: to keep consumer data safe.
The Opportunity: To Improve Consumer Engagement
Data collected from consumers might include location tracking and other personally identifiable information.
Some of the most common forms of consumer data collected are:
- IP addresses to determine a user’s location
- Information about how the user interacts with websites: for example, what they click on and how long they spend on a page
- Information about browsers and the device the user accesses the site with
- Browsing activity across different sites.
This data is immensely valuable to companies.
Many organizations, for example, use this data to better understand consumer pain points and unmet needs, as well as shopping habits and interests.
These insights help companies to develop new products and services.
Consumer data is also used for personalization in the hugely lucrative industries of advertising and marketing – the total global value of digital advertising is now estimated to be worth more than $468 billion.
The Responsibility: To Keep Consumer Data Safe
With the growth in e-commerce and tech, consumers today are faced with a plethora of situations where they’re required to hand over personal information – from financial information to medical records – online.
This bombardment, paired with the fact consumers are increasingly savvy, means they are now demanding to know what information they are handing over, and how it is being used and stored.
Consumers want to be reassured their personal data is protected, and rightly so.
This might be through:
- Explaining why your organization wants their information, what you’re going to do with it, and who can access it. This needs to be done before any data is collected
- Giving consumers opportunities to opt out of having certain information collected or shared
- Providing cybersecurity and privacy process measures that ensure information isn’t exposed by bad actors or human error, and telling your consumers about it.
A lack of transparency in the past – and major data breaches – have left consumers skeptical of whether organizations are managing and protecting their personal data appropriately.
In fact, studies show most consumers believe their data is less secure today than ever before.
The stakes are high for companies handling consumer data. Even consumers who are not directly affected by breaches pay attention to the way companies respond to them.
Data Protection Laws
With an increased focus on consumer rights, regulators and consumers are now legally able to proactively monitor an organization’s ability to show compliance.
Over the past few years, privacy regulations focused on consumer rights and protections have strengthened.
This is in large part thanks to the passing of regulations, including the:
- GDPR: General Data Protection Regulation (European Union). This came into effect in 2018 and has set the benchmark for many other data privacy regulations around the world
- ePR: ePrivacy Regulation (European Union). Expected to be in effect by 2023, the ePR was intended to be an extension of the GDPR, supplementing it where necessary. Together, they will form a cohesive framework for data protection
- CCPA: California Consumer Privacy Act (California). This came into effect in 2020
- VCDPA: Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (Virginia). This came into effect in 2021
- LGPD: Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados Pessoais (Brazil). This came into effect in 2020
- PIPL: Personal Information Protection Law (China). This came into effect in 2021.
Many other data protection regulations are in the pipeline around the world.
In fact, it’s estimated that 65% of the world’s population will have its personal data covered under modern privacy regulations by 2023, up from 10% in 2020, according to Gartner.
Generally, these regulations will be in line with, or inspired by, the GDPR.
Regulations today signal a shift in expectations between consumers and organizations.
Consumers demand transparency about how their data is used and distributed.
People are becoming less willing to give out their personal information. As a result, businesses are finding it harder to gain and maintain consumer trust.
Data Protection as a Business Advantage
In business, few things are as vital to a company’s success and growth as its brand reputation. More often than not, reputation depends on the trust between a consumer and a brand.
When a brand makes a genuine, honest connection with a consumer, it creates brand loyalty.
This is the basis of a consumer–brand relationship and it has the potential to give an organization a competitive advantage.
Data protection has become such a vital part of trust between consumers and organizations that it’s even influencing people’s purchase behavior.
A study by ATB Ventures shows consumers would rather buy from organizations that protect their privacy than those that don’t.
They are more willing to use their purchasing power on brands that manage consumer data responsibly.
Conversely, the vast majority of study respondents said they would not do business with a company if they had concerns about its security practices.
The majority also said they would stop doing business with a company if it gave away sensitive data without permission.
Organizations today should see data protection and privacy less as barriers and more as benefits for trust-earning potential – and a competitive edge in the market.
4 Ways to Build Consumer Trust
Consumers want a quick, accurate and on-brand response when it comes to data collection and data security.
As part of this, websites should display the appropriate consent banner based on the consumer’s location.
Then, take the following steps to stay on top of data protection and privacy, and keep building consumer trust:
Find out exactly what is on your website.
Gain a comprehensive understanding of your website’s tracking behavior, including identifying compliance risks, conducting cookie audits and managing trackers for consent, to deliver a secure and fast digital experience.
Display a seamless and compliant consent experience.
Meet global consent requirements and tailor the consent experience to align with your company’s brand.
Never miss a deadline. Automate the data subject request lifecycle through automated workflows.
You should also dynamically assess requests to deliver accurate, secure and on-brand responses to your consumers.
Stay informed on the latest privacy changes.
Leverage TrustArc’s customizable regulatory guidance dashboard and personalize the guidance based on your business to deliver the best privacy experience continuously.
Once your organization has completed these steps, it should let consumers – and the world – know about it.
It doesn’t matter if you have the best privacy program in the world. If your customers don’t know about it, then it’s not gaining you any loyalty or competitive advantage.
Weave your commitment into all your messaging, until it becomes a key part of your brand reputation.
Privacy is Powerful
Given the right value proposition, consumers are willing to share their personal information. Prioritizing data privacy is the fastest, most effective way to tap into that willingness and increase trust from your consumers.
TrustArc solutions evolve with the latest global regulatory landscape. Best of all, it’s tailored to your brand.