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emlyon business school

Consumers in emerging markets more open to sharing data

Countries like China, Brazil and South Africa are much more open to sharing their personal data with companies than consumers in Western countries, like the UK, France and the US, according to new research from emlyon business school.

The findings come from a global study of over 22,000 online shoppers, which looked into their willingness to share their personal information, like identification and financial data, with companies when purchasing products.

The researchers; Monica Grosso, Associate Professor of Marketing at emlyon, alongside colleagues from Bocconi School of Management, KU Leuven, CEFAM International School of Business and Management and the Center for Service Intelligence, wanted to understand what factors had an impact on the willingness of consumers to share personal data with companies.

The factors they reviewed were: whether the type of product had an impact, whether the country consumers were from had an impact, and whether and how customers could be incentivised to provide further data even if they weren’t willing to in the first place.

Through the survey, the researchers gathered data on over 22,000 shoppers, who were buying products from seven different categories; identification, medical, financial, locational, demographic, lifestyle, and media usage data.

The research also focused on the privacy concerns and willingness of participants in fourteen different countries, ranging from highly individualistic, such as the UK, France, the United States, Canada and Australia, to collectivist nations, including China, Brazil and South Africa.

The researchers also reviewed whether customers were more likely to share their personal data and information if there was some form of compensation for doing so.

Professor Grosso said: “Given sharing personal data online is often on a voluntary basis, it is difficult for companies to persuade customer’s to do so. Not only this, but in the wake of high-profile privacy scandals, customers have become increasingly worried about how organizations store and exploit their personal data. Consumers have therefore become more cautious about sharing such data with retail companies. Therefore understanding the market, and having a full-proof strategy to maximise data sharing of customers is vital for marketing departments”.

The researchers also found that once offered compensation and incentives for sharing their personal data, consumers in all contexts were more likely to provide their data to companies. This compensation and incentives included a tangible benefit for the customers, such as discount coupons or small free gifts, showing that there are clear, effective methods for companies to use to garner more data from their consumers.

Grosso added: “Companies are always keen to secure as much data as they can from their customers in order to inform increase future sales tailor marketing efforts to their needs, and boost customer brand loyalty, but often customers are reluctant and unwilling to provide such data. These results show trust can differ across contexts, and customers can be further encouraged to provide personal data through a number of tailored methods.”

For companies, the research shows that the willingness of consumers to share varies greatly over different countries. Therefore, if companies are looking to collect vital data from their customers in different country contexts, they should adopt different privacy strategies based on the information type, country, and product category.