Data Personalization and Consumer Trust

“Personalization” is a key concept among data-driven business strategies these days.  Often touted as a benefit to consumers, you can find companies seeking to give personalized experiences in more industries than one.  According to recent studies, however, consumers around the world may be adopting a stance of, “thanks, but no thanks,” on this position.  In 2017, 31% of respondents to an RSA Data Privacy & Security Survey agreed with more data equaling better, more personalized services; in their latest survey, it’s down to 29%, reflecting a growing distrust.  This coincides with what we see from the healthcare industry: in 2017, about 5.1 patient records were compromised, a figure which nearly tripled in 2018.

As for the RSA respondents, only 24% are ok with personalized news feeds, while 25% showed support for online behavior translating to other recommendations.

Such declines and low statistics are understandable when you factor in the various stories of scandal resulting from data personalization.  Cambridge Analytica was the most high profile, but late last year there was a flurry of related news.  Quora’s data breach in December affected about 100 million users, compromising a host of information including personalization data.  Marriott’s breach shortly prior brought the spotlight on the hotel chain’s practice of collecting volumes of customer data and using it to tailor the guest experience to be ‘personalized’ and efficient.

“Guests are willing to give us information about themselves, and they expect that we use it to enhance their experience,” was the sentiment voiced by Stephanie Linnartz, Global Chief Commercial Officer.  And there may still be truth to that.  But the RSA survey shows dropping percentages overall.

Doubts about the “ethics” of it all seem to be the main takeaway here, as well as respondent concerns for their financial, identity, and medical information.  We have already seen how consumers are becoming more aware of their personal information’s security in recent years, and these results bolster that trend.  Knowledge and suspicion go hand in hand when people read the endless data breach headlines.  Personalization might not lose its luster, but the ways in which it’s collected and protected will have to improve.


By: Jonathan Weicher, post on February 13, 2019
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Copyright: NetLib Security