Winning with personalization requires digital experts to understand what customers expect in terms of data privacy first. Source: Shutterstock

Winning with personalization requires digital experts to understand what customers expect in terms of data privacy first. Source: Shutterstock

How can businesses better understand data privacy expectations in 2020?

EVERYONE today cares about data privacy.

Regulators are busy formulating significant laws to ensure that businesses pay close attention to the issue — be it in the Asia Pacific or elsewhere.

While privacy is partly a data protection issue, it is also a marketing and business issue and therefore, is something that more business leaders must think about going forward.

According to a recent Forrester study, there are four primary variables that drive how people think about privacy:

  • Willingness to share information
  • Privacy awareness
  • Behaviors around safeguarding data, and
  • Comfort level with the data economy

Forrester VP and Principal Analyst Fatemah Khatibloo, in a blog post, explained that peoples’ willingness to share data isn’t static and that their motivations differ based on the benefits being offered.

As a result, for businesses struggling with personalization, the reality is that customers will be happy to share a lot of information about themselves if they get a lot more out of the relationship.

Often, with digital platforms operated by cosmetic or healthcare companies, it is seen that customers tend to voluntarily provide a lot of information about themselves — including personal information such as their blood type, age, ethnicity, and more — in order to get more tailored recommendations and advice.

Another important insight that Khatibloo shares is that data privacy needs have more to do with ‘life-stage’ than ‘generation’.

The Forrester Principal Analyst noted that people often think that millennials are reckless with their data, but note that their choices around data privacy change when they have children or take a mortgage.

Hence, when business leaders think about their direction in terms of personalization in the digital and physical world, they need to take into account the life stage of their customers — and that’s a tad bit easier.

For lifestyle brands, for example, products aimed at more mature individuals should probably steer clear of anything that might be considered over-personalization.

Those that cater to younger audiences, on the other hand, might opt to take a bit of risk and go the extra mile with their personalization efforts if they can provide a better overall experience and maybe some delightful rewards in exchange for personal information.

Finally, Khatibloo’s blog post pointed out that her company’s research indicated that brands today, broadly speaking, face “a crisis of trust” as a large proportion of consumers don’t trust brands with their data.

Organizations that use data to transform their operations and provide value to customers in equal measure must take fact that into account as it can influence how they engage with customers and inform them about the use and storage of their personal data.

Data privacy, at the end of the day, is a serious issue that nobody wants to neglect. However, there’s a fine line between using data and abusing data — and the balancing act involves taking the customers’ perceptions into account along with actual practices.

In 2020, businesses that make an effort to understand customers and build a data strategy accordingly will do well, with gaining access to data, using it to benefit themselves and the customer, and keeping the trust of all kinds of stakeholders.