Although consumers remain concerned about sharing personal data with companies, there is a definite opportunity for businesses to take a leadership role and build brand loyalty by better protecting their customers, according to the '2020 Consumer Trust and Data Privacy Report' from data privacy platform provider Privitar. This article is copyright 2020 The Best Customer Guide.

The report found that more than three-quarters of respondents are concerned or very concerned about protecting their personal data, with 42% of consumers saying they wouldn't share sensitive data (e.g. name, address, email address, phone number, location information, health information, banking information, social security number) with a business for any reason.

As consumers grow increasingly apprehensive when it comes to their data, business success will depend on an organizations' ability to prioritize and successfully execute on privacy initiatives.

Key findings from the survey included:

  • There's a disconnect between consumer sentiment and actions surrounding data protection
    When it comes to the management of their data, many consumers aren't fully aware of how brands are securing their personal information. According to the survey, almost half of consumers (43%) don't know if they've worked with a business that has been impacted by a data breach. When it comes to privacy notices, 28% admit to not reading privacy notices at all and 42% admitted to only skimming the text. These findings point to a growing sentiment that data privacy should be the responsibility of the business - not the customer. With this, businesses have a tremendous opportunity to make data privacy a differentiator and way to build long-term loyalty.
  • The pandemic is creating more data sharing opportunities, but consumers are still wary
    Despite the growing advancements on the data protection front, more than half of consumers surveyed (51%) said they are still not comfortable sharing their personal information. One-third of respondents said they are most concerned about it being stolen in a breach, with another 26% worried about it being shared with a third party. In the midst of the growing pandemic, COVID-19 tracking, tracing, containment and research depends on citizens opting in to share their personal data. However, the research shows that consumers are not interested in sharing their information. When specifically asked about sharing healthcare data, only 27% would share health data for healthcare advancements and research. Another 21% of consumers surveyed would share health data for contact tracing purposes. As data becomes more valuable to combat the pandemic, companies must provide consumers with more background and reasoning as to why they're collecting data - and how they plan to protect it.
  • The upcoming US elections and state legislation are driving consumer awareness of data privacy
    Recently, there's been increased conversation about data privacy and protection legislation across the United States, especially as the California Consumer Privacy Act is enacted and the Consumer Data Privacy & Security Act awaits its fate in Congress. As the debate grows louder across the nation, 73% of consumers think that there should be more government oversight at the federal and/or state/local levels. While legislation can take years to pass, it's important for businesses to overhaul their technology and processes now to quickly address consumers' concerns and keep business running.
  • Businesses must drive data privacy action, using it as a way to build better loyalty with customers
    Companies rely on brand loyalty to keep their operations up and running. While often referring to affordable costs and personalization as a means to keeping business moving, many overlook the importance of instilling a more personal sense of trust within their customer base. When working with a business, 40% of consumers think the brand's trustworthiness is most important when it comes to brand loyalty and 31% say it's the brand's commitment to protecting their data. Evenly matched up with the 30% of consumers who believe customer service matters most, the results prove that data protection is just as critical to keeping customers coming back for more. However, broken trust and lost responsibility for protecting that data have severe consequences, with nearly a quarter (24%) saying they have either stopped doing business or done less business with a company after it was breached. As markets grow increasingly competitive in a fluctuating economy, it's critical for businesses to keep customer loyalty high - and as such, be more open and transparent with how they're using personal data.

"The global COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of the trust relationship companies and governments need to build with consumers in an increasingly digital world," said Jason du Preez, CEO and co-founder of Privitar. "The results of the survey affirm the growing need for brands to focus on building and maintaining this trust, starting first and foremost with protecting customer data. As more businesses utilize the cloud to enable data driven insights, a firm commitment to data privacy will help to ensure long-term loyalty, consumer satisfaction and shareholder value."