With just 6% of consumers happy to share their personal information, Rimma Perelmuter, CEO Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF), looks at the impact of trust on businesses serving the mobile audience.
MEF’s Consumer Trust report 2016 identified the rise of the Reluctant Sharer. Just 6% of consumers said they were always happy to share their personal information. 41% said they did not want to share data but felt compelled to do so if they wanted to use the app or service.
The ‘reluctance’ was not good for business and manifested itself in a lack of trust which prevented consumers from buying, downloading and doing more with their mobile.
So what’s changed since then?
At the same time, and on a positive note, some of the Internet’s giants have heeded the call for greater transparency. Twitter, Google and Apple have all published meaningful updates to their privacy policies and are exploring new consumer engagement models which offer greater control to the individual with Facebook advancing ‘a New Paradigm for Personal Data’ which sees trust as an asset.
For industry as a whole, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) means that all companies handling personal data must prepare for changes coming into effect in May 2018. Significantly, consumers will be compelled to give permission before any of their data is collected by a company, and that data must be transferrable and deleted, or returned on request. This is a game-changer, placing the consumer at the heart of the data exchange.
This changing landscape is the backdrop for MEF’s just launched 2017 Global Consumer Trust Report. Some of its findings follow a long term trajectory showing lack of trust as consistently the largest barrier to growth in mobile Other finding were unanticipated and some came as a complete surprise.
The number of ‘reluctant sharers’ dropped a fifth to 32% from 41% last year. They have been replaced, in effect, by a new category of mobile user — the ‘Savvy Consumer’ — a smartphone consumer that is fiercely protective of privacy and security and stands to penalise any provider seen to be abusing their trust or take action. For example, a connected home user is more likely to switch providers as a result of trust concerns — 23% vs the 15% average.
However, heightened consumer awareness works both ways: the research makes it clear that the Savvy Consumer also rewards trustworthy apps and services. Two-thirds (67%) say they would promote them to friends and family – 20% more than the global average.
If the Savvy Consumer understands the value of their personal data – and it’s clear that they do – then it follows that they must be offered something in return for it. But what?
When we asked them, the top answer was not money, though 29% did name financial rewards. Instead, most asked for control. 31% said they would be convinced to hand over personal information only if it could be returned or deleted at a time of their choosing.
It’s no wonder. This group is more likely to feel they have lost control over their data with 53% saying ‘I know that by agreeing to the terms and conditions I am giving permission, but I don’t feel I have a choice’ versus the 39% average.
The Savvy Consumer instinctively warms to an emerging class of new data-driven mobile services which shows them exactly what personal data is being collected by all their connected devices (60% vs. the 43% average).
They intuitively understand the GDPR principle of portability and why it might be useful to be able to transfer data between providers. 42% see how it might save time filling in forms, for example, as opposed to 33% across the board.
Consumers have become more astute for a variety of reasons. The ever-increasing media coverage of privacy and security breaches are important, as are high profile investments in transparency by some of the world’s biggest companies.
Mobile users are changing their behaviours as a result. 75% now read privacy policies (either sometimes or always) before they use an app or service for the first time.
The lessons for industry and data holders are clear. We must seek to develop consumer-centric products that clearly demonstrate a return on the consumer’s data investment.
Ultimately, businesses and individuals stand to win when consumers are rewarded with greater choice and control, better incentives and valuable personalised products and services. Now it’s a question of how do we create a trust journey and identify the right value exchange for the diversity of consumers.
By Rimma Perelmuter