Future Flash: Privacy still important to consumers

May 22, 2012  |  Alicia Androich  |  Comments

The relationship consumers have with privacy is “fundamentally changing,” according to Laura Simpson, global IQ director at McCann Worldgroup. From celebrities over-sharing personal details on Twitter to Mark Zuckerberg’s famous claim that privacy doesn’t exist online, it’s understandable that marketers may not know how to approach consumers’ online data.

As it turns out, people are more worried about the erosion of their personal privacy than terrorism or climate change, according to consumer research McCann compiled last year that Simpson shared with Future Flash attendees last week. Future Flash is an annual conference organized by the Institute of Communication Agencies.

McCann’s global survey showed that most respondents would rather have someone break into their house than hack into their bank account online.

So great was concern for online privacy and security, many consumers – especially mobile internet users – said they avoided online banking altogether to better protect their privacy, Simpson said. While this currently presents an obstacle to mobile commerce, Simpson said this is a marketing challenge.

“If we get privacy right and make consumers feel safe, we can unleash a whole new wave of m-commerce,” she said.

Age seems to be a factor in how various groups regard privacy. McCann’s study shows that 84% of people under 30 have changed their privacy settings on sites that collect personal data, while 58% of people over 40 have done the same.

Which brands do consumers see as the biggest threat to privacy? It’s no surprise that it’s those at the forefront of online sharing, said Simpson: Facebook, Twitter, Google and eBay.

But at the other end of the spectrum, the most trusted brand when it comes to privacy in North America is Amazon. In general, banks, credit card companies and medical/pharmaceutical companies are most trusted with private info by consumers, said Simpson.

The Five Types of Online Consumers (according to Laura Simpson)

• Eager extroverts (15%): Skews male, obsessed with all things mobile, would love to be on a reality TV show
• Sunny sharers (20%): Skews female, likes recommendations, very optimistic group
• Savvy shoppers (37%): Have some privacy worries
• Cautious communications (9%): Not that worried about privacy, but hate e-mail or text message spam
• Walled worriers (19%): Most worried about privacy, this group tends to be from North America and Europe

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