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Opinion and Insight
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New Study Reveals Consumers Rate Data as More Important Than Price

J. Walter Thompson London, 3 months, 3 weeks ago

More than half of the UK population is now demanding to be rewarded for handing over their personal data

New Study Reveals Consumers Rate Data as More Important Than Price

When asked what they would change about a brand's products and services, more UK consumers said that they would prefer to influence how it handles their personal data over how it prices its products and services, marking a huge turning point in consumer opinion about the importance of data. 

From a list of twenty possible options including speed of delivery and customer service options, personal data management topped the ranking in the UK, with pricing coming second. 

Control Shift is a global future trends report from J Walter Thompson’s Innovation Group, the agency’s consultancy which leverages its brand understanding, international network and legacy of research to offer clients robust, future-ready insights to implement within their businesses. They can do this through bespoke content, product and service creation, and consultancy solutions in the form of workshops, innovation tours, round table discussions, and presentations. 

Conducting a deep dive analysis of the UK market with its survey of more than 1,000 consumers, the report unearthed considerable concern amongst respondents about their online privacy, and the way their data is used. 91% would like more control over who can access and use their data while 67% admitted that they “fear technology is taking over their lives”. 

It also found that more than half of the UK population is now demanding to be rewarded for handing over their personal data, demonstrating that consumers now have a greater understanding of its value. 59% said they would be OK sharing their data as long as they were paid for it, 57% wanted their data to save them money and 50% were happy to share data if it made shopping easier. 

Marie Stafford, European Director, J. Walter Thompson Innovation Group, said: “We have reached a new cultural milestone in the debate around data and privacy. For data to trump price in the eyes of consumers is huge. This doesn’t need to be a warning of impending doom for brands, but in fact can represent a major opportunity. By ensuring they acknowledge consumers’ digital liberties and privacy while harnessing advanced technology they can deliver utility, optimisation and engagement as well as building deep and personal relationships. 

“However, not heeding this shift in attitudes can irrevocably damage these relationships. Growing consumer anxiety around data management demonstrates that brands will need to firmly establish a position of trust before they can successfully negotiate consumers’ control boundaries and nurture engagement.”

Also, a key finding for brands is that the public is eager to benefit from increasingly personalised products and messages. 53% of the British public want companies to customise their communications to them based on their specific circumstances. Meanwhile, 67% said that they are more likely to buy a product that has been customised to their specifications.

The research also unpacks how brands can employ innovations such as Artificial Intelligence to deliver on these growing consumer expectations. In contrast with doom-laden warnings about the damaging effects of cognitive technology, the study found that globally consumers (49%) are increasingly comfortable with giving over decision-making, with more than a fifth (22%) happy to delegate to an automated system. More than a third of the British population is comfortable with the concept of a robot assistant to help maintain the home.

Elizabeth Cherian, Director, J. Walter Thompson Innovation Group, said: “Consumers want brands to understand their personal needs and make their lives easier. AI is a powerful tool for meeting these demands, but it must be handled with care as it’s powered by sensitive, personal data. Any brand interested in leveraging this technology must remember that if they don’t get the privacy issues right, people will walk away. Control Shift examines and delivers answers for brands facing this very delicate terrain.”