Despite their fears around data breaches, consumers are willing to trade much of their personal data if it gets them something in return, a new survey has found.

In a new report called the “Loyalty Lens,” researchers from Aimia Inc., a loyalty management company found about 55 per cent of shoppers from around the world are willing to part with their personal information to get rewards. They polled about 24,300 respondents from Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Australia, India, and the Middle East to see how willing they were to share their data.

(Image: Aimia).
(Image: Aimia).

However, that number fluctuates based on where respondents were based. For example, about 74 per cent of Indian respondents said they were OK with providing personal information, while just 39 per cent of Germans said they’d be open to sharing that data.

Saying more than half of global consumers are fine with sharing their information would also be inaccurate, as consumers trust some institutions more than others. Not surprisingly, the institutions perceived to be the most trustworthy were banks, with 82 per cent of those polled saying they’d be willing to share their data with them. Supermarkets followed at 64 per cent, mobile phone providers scored 56 per cent, and about 50 per cent of respondents said they’d be willing to share personal data with the companies they work for.

Beyond the type of institutions they trust, the respondents polled said they wanted different rewards in return for giving away their information, depending on who they gave it to. For example, the top reason for consumers to give their information to supermarkets was to score rewards in loyalty programs. Another key reason was to get better prices on their groceries. But among airlines, the most valuable rewards were loyalty currency, like air miles, or special discounts on things like hotel reservations.

Nor is all data created the same. Among the respondents polled, they said the information most worth safeguarding was their web history and income, with 39 per cent saying they’d never share their web history and 30 per cent saying they’d keep their income private. However, another 29 per cent said they would never share their mobile phone number, and 23 per cent would keep their information on online purchases private.

“With today’s technological advances, companies have the ability to truly understand consumers — from what we like to eat, to where we like to shop, to even our names,” said David Johnston, group chief operating officer at Aimia, in a statement.

“But it’s important for businesses to know when and where it’s appropriate to use this information to engage consumers, and that it varies significantly by industry and nationality. The companies that win will be the ones that listen to their consumers’ preferences and use data accordingly to build mutually beneficial relationship.”

Here in Canada, about 91 per cent of respondents said they’re using loyalty cards. However, that doesn’t mean Canadians trust the institutions and businesses issuing those cards – about 24 per cent of respondents said they’ve closed loyalty accounts because they were worried about how the businesses connected to them were handling their data. That’s a little higher than the global average at 20 per cent.

Canadians were also among the global average in that we know our data is worth something – about 28 per cent of Canadian respondents said they felt they deserved a better customer experience in exchange for sharing personal data, compared to the global average of 29 per cent. And 54 per cent of respondents said they’d be willing to share their data, if they got offers and discounts in return. The global average was 55 per cent.

While most of these findings aren’t that surprising, they’re a good reminder to marketers that collecting personal data needs to be more of a give-and-take relationship. Consumers are getting wise to the fact their information is being recorded, and they want something in return – and marketers who want to nurture their customer relationships should keep that in mind.

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