Guest Blogger

As we move into a new year, brands have an opportunity to place their customer relationships on a powerful new footing.

The new digital age presents a window to get to know customers better than ever before.  Every click is a reflection of an identity, a behaviour, a passion and a thought process. Information sharing between customers and companies is now the norm. Yet, a Callcredit Information Group survey of 3,000 UK-based consumers suggests that in order to make this a fair value exchange, we must do more to ensure that people feel they have full control over their own data and a deeper understanding about how brands are using it.

The fact of the matter is, there’s more power in your customer’s hands now than at any other time before. Consumers expect brands to deal with their data in a safe and secure way. But they also expect you to develop ‘Me2B’ services that empower them with data and help them use it to make better purchasing decisions.

This new wave of consumer empowerment cannot be dodged. Not least due to the imminent arrival of the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).  The underlying intention of this regulation is clear. “Individuals should have control of their own personal data”.

Building consumer trust and maximising the value exchange

So how do you overcome consumer reticence and build trust to get the most out of the value exchange while remaining on the right side of the regulators? Research into consumer attitudes towards sharing personal information for our ‘Unlocking the potential of personal data’ report tells us that a ‘one size fits all’ approach will not suffice. Instead, businesses must think of their audience in terms of three distinct persona categories, each with their own attitudes towards, and expectations of, data sharing. The research defined these three audience segments as follows:

Reserved Rachel

22% of total respondents fell within the ‘Reserved Rachel’ category. The majority are 45 – 64 years old. They are significantly more likely to feel intruded upon when asked for personal information by public bodies or businesses. Reserved Rachel currently sees few benefits in sharing personal information and is more likely to cite risk of identity theft and risk of data being lost as a key concern. Tread with care!

Could be Swayed Sarah

The ‘Could be Swayed Sarah’ group make up a majority of the audience at 56%. As with the ‘Reserved Rachels’, they are also more likely to view the sharing of personal data as a risk (75%) rather than an opportunity (25%). Having said that, they would be significantly more willing to share information if the EU’s GDPR legislation was already in place. Just 11% of this group are less than 25 years of age. A relationship to nurture and grow.

Game-changer Gavin

Reassuringly, there is a keen contingent of younger consumers driving the personal information economy, the ‘Game-changer Gavins’. Almost half (47%) of this group are under 34 years of age. Happy to share their data, they embrace the opportunity that this exchange presents to them on a personal level.

Brands are, therefore, dealing with one consumer group who will be hard to win over, another that currently display signs of reticence but could potentially be swayed, and a third group that is actively engaged and ready to take advantage of the benefits.

Getting consumers on board to drive the personal information economy

Yet the million-dollar question remains, “How do we galvanise the rest of the nation and future generations into adopting a similar mind-set to our ‘Game-changer Gavin’ group?”

The answer isn’t a short one but there are three broad-brush areas that may be of some benefit to reference here.

  • Firstly, use data creatively. Evolve your offer in exchange for data to make it more valuable to customers and go that extra mile to keep them engaged.
  • Secondly, communicate what you are going to do with your customers’ data and more to the point, how this will benefit them.
  • And last but by no means least, always ensure it’s a fair value exchange. Investing time and effort into engaging with your loyal customers in smart, bespoke and powerful ways will undoubtedly pay off.

Brands that embrace the rise of the Me2B economy will, in return, deepen customer trust, grow revenue streams and profits, stand out from the crowd, and position themselves ahead of the curve in the new digital economy. With the right level of investment, this can be a win-win-win for individuals, society and business as a whole.

Author: By Mark Davison, Chief Data Officer

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