Consumer attitudes to privacy revealed

Research from the DMA and Acxiom reveals a change in attitudes towards data privacy and sharing.


With the EU General Data Protection Regulation coming into force May 25, data and privacy are currently the hottest topics in the marketing industry.

Recent revelations about Cambridge Analytica and Facebook has amplified consumer awareness into these key issues.

Less concerned

But what do consumers think about information sharing, data exchange and trust? While short-term views may have changed in recent weeks, research collected over a five-year period suggests that long-term consumer sentiment remains unaffected. Consumers are less concerned about their data than ever, despite multiple data breech and privacy-related stories hitting the headlines over the last half a decade.

With the GDPR fast approaching, bringing with it new laws covering how businesses collect, store and use consumer data, the DMA and Acxiom asked a group of consumers for their opinions on the data they share and the companies that collect it.

As businesses prepare for the new rules, almost two-thirds (61%) of consumers are already happy with the amount of personal information they share. “GDPR comes into force next month and our research shows that consumer attitudes are already changing in a way that makes us optimistic,” said Chris Combemale, group CEO of the DMA.

The figures revealed in the ‘Data privacy: What the consumer really thinks’ report from the DMA and Acxiom, commissioned for the third time since 2012, highlight an important change in attitudes is underway. This change in attitudes has been greatest among 55-64 year-olds who have historically been more cautious; 63% said they are happy with the amount of data they share today, compared to 47% in 2012. Critically, 88% cite transparency as one of the keys to further increasing trust in how their data is collected and used.

“GDPR establishes a level of transparency and honesty about how data is collected and used, which will be essential to continuing to build and maintain trust between businesses and consumers. This trust is central to data exchange and showing the value to both the business looking to prosper, and the customer looking to benefit”, added Combemale.

More than half (51%) of the respondents viewing data as essential to the smooth running of the modern economy, up sharply from 38% in 2012. This is mirrored by the continued rise of consumers who appear relatively unconcerned about matters of data privacy and the exchange of data, which has increased from 16% to 25% this year. Younger respondents were even more relaxed about privacy and readier to share data, with 38% falling into this ‘Data Unconcerned’ group.

“It is good to see consumers taking data privacy seriously, though it’s important to understand, they do vary in terms of how they view this subject,” said Jed Mole, European marketing director at Acxiom.

“The clear trend is towards greater real-life acceptance of data exchange as part and parcel of everyday life. This is good news for marketers who believe in data ethics and adopt the highest standards in data-driven marketing. Using data to drive more transparent value, treating people as individuals while giving them control especially as we enter the GDPR era, is key to achieving the win-win businesses and consumers really want.”

Understanding how to speak to consumers has never been more crucial, and the DMA offers insight, help, training and advice on all things GDPR related. For further information, visit:

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