Recent headlines at TechCrunch and elsewhere have been filled with news about data breaches, data misuse and other data-related scandals. But has that actually affected how consumers think about their personal data?
A new report from Salesforce Research sheds some light on this question. In a survey of 6,723 individuals globally, Salesforce found that 59 percent of respondents believe their personal information is vulnerable to security breach, while 54 percent believe that the companies with that data don’t have their best interests in mind.
Respondents also said that these feelings will affect their choices as consumers — for example, 86 percent said that if they trust a company, they’re more likely to share their experiences, and that number goes up to 91 percent among millennials and Gen Zers.
The findings seem similar to (if more general than research from Pew showing that Americans have become more cautious and critical in how they use Facebook.
At the same time, it sounds like people do want some degree of personalization in their marketing — the same personalization that requires data. Eighty-four percent of respondents said they want to be treated “like a person, not a number,” and 54 percent said current marketing messages aren’t as relevant as they’d like.
Salesforce says that while this might seem like a paradox, personalization and trust are not mutually exclusive. To illustrate this, it notes that 86 percent of respondents said they’re more likely to trust a company with their personal information if it explains how that information leads to a better customer experience, and 68 percent said they’re more likely to trust companies with that info if they’ll use it to fully personalize the customer experience.
“With technologies like AI driving more personalized customer experiences, customer trust needs to be grounded in a deeper understanding of the technologies’ value,” the report says. “Among millennials and Gen Zers, 91% are more likely to trust companies with their persona information if they explain how its use will deliver a better experience — suggesting that strict security and privacy protocols alone may not be enough.”
You can read the full research brief here.