Companies' ability to collect and store consumer data has increased exponentially over the years. Corporate America continues to use more and more consumer data to provide products and services. Still, according to a new survey by KPMG, American consumers are not convinced companies will protect the data and use it ethically. The survey examined responses from over 2,00 US adults and 255 business leaders to compare how consumers feel about data privacy and data security and how companies are reacting.
Business leaders are confident about their data collection and usage practices, but consumers remain concerned.
Consumers today are more aware than ever of the personal data they are putting into cyberspace. Along with this awareness is an uptick in concern about protecting personal data, with 92 percent of consumers saying they were concerned about protecting their data.
Although consumers report a 62 percent increase in distress with data protection in the past year, organizations have not tried to dissuade their anxiety. Business leaders continue to uphold that consumer data is protected but need to provide transparent information about their data usage and collection policy to help increase consumer trust.
Consumers continue to share personal data and engage in online activities they know may pose a security risk.
Although Americans say they are more concerned than ever about their data, they are willing to keep their online habits the same. They continue to engage in data-sharing behaviors, including accepting online cookies, using public Wi-Fi and signing up for rewards programs.
Most American know that some of the behaviors they participate in online pose a risk to their data. Consumers are willing to accept the risk of using a product or service attached. However, they will take steps in other aspects of their online experience to secure their data, like avoiding emails from unknown senders and using different passwords.
"Data privacy and security remains a priority for regulators in the US and globally. While some privacy rights advocates these regulations don’t go far or fast enough, many organizations still struggle to with obligates that impact data management and marketing practices. And this is tangibly felt by consumers: In the third year of this report, we see a continued trend of a wide and broadening gap between corporate and consumer sentiment around data protection and handling practices” said Orson Lucas, Principal, Advisory U.S. Privacy Service Leader, KPMG. “Our advice to companies: Lead with trust as a strategy, and capitalize on the opportunity to share with consumers efforts to protect and secure their data and respect their rights."
Consumer data is fast becoming the currency of business, and companies are collecting, using, and selling more and more of it.
It's nothing new that companies track consumer data to help make new and better products and services. It's safe to say that companies will continue to grow how they use and collect data. During the pandemic, almost 80 percent of companies invested in marketing and advertising technology and nearly 90 percent said they would continue to invest over the next five years.
However, more and more companies are considering selling data to third parties. The survey shows that while companies seem more willing to buy and sell data, this is the biggest concern for consumers. When asked what acceptable use for consumer data is, only 17 percent said selling their data.
As long as companies sell consumers' data, there will be a growing gap in trust between consumers and companies.
Americans expect companies to be responsible for securing data and will hold them accountable if it is mishandled.
Americans are aware of the great responsibility that organizations have to protect, manage, and handle their personal data, with 83 percent saying they worry about how companies store their data. While the sale of data is the number one concern for consumers, most Americans are also worried about data breaches/hacks.
American consumers are serious about ensuring that companies are held responsible for mishandling data. Nearly 90 percent say that companies should be held accountable for any hacks or data breaches, and 86 percent believe that data privacy is a fundamental human right.
But how can companies address concerns about data breaches? Based on the survey, the top three suggestions are:
Data privacy and security is and will continue to be, an essential part of companies' responsibilities. Consumers want to hear clear and transparent communication from companies to reassure their data is protected and ethically used. Developing an array of data privacy messaging now is a chance to improve consumer trust and ultimately help become a leader in the space.