The UK population can be grouped into four distinct categories when it comes to their attitudes towards to sharing their data with organisations.

Experian’s comprehensive new study has identified four distinct groups of people; ‘the unaware’, ‘the acceptor’, ‘the cautious’ and ‘the incognito’ – demonstrating that there are varying levels of trust and engagement with how personal information is collected and used in exchange for products and services.

  • The unaware (22 per cent of the population): Unaware of the way in which some companies wish to use their data, these customers are often very excited to access the product or service they desire. They click ‘accept’ without really understanding the implications of what they are doing and have very low engagement with how their data might be used.
  • The accepting (41 per cent of the population): Accepting, but not thrilled with the amount of data they are asked to share to access products and services, this group of people simply see the exchange of information for products and services as an inevitable trade-off. They are aware of the situation, but not necessarily thrilled about it.
  • The cautious (28 per cent of the population): This group of consumers are much more careful about how they approach the data exchange. Before they share any information, they will want to make sure that the company asking for their data is legitimate and trustworthy, and ensure that they understand fully the agreement that they are entering in to.
  • The incognito (nine per cent of the population): This smaller, wary group of individuals has adapted to their environment by figuring out how to navigate data sharing without revealing any information that they don’t want to share. They have developed defence mechanisms to prevent them receiving the unwanted ‘hassle’ or intrusion that they perceive to be part of the process of sharing their data.

Jon Roughley says, ‘Our research shows some significant splits in the way people feel about sharing data. Some are comfortable with the idea that the more they share the more they get, while others feel the more they share the more of themselves they give away, without valuing what they receive in return.

‘Overall, many people understand the value exchange that enables them to use the services that our digital, data-led economy has opened up – including keeping the internet free. However, what is clear from our research is that there are different levels of understanding about how data is collected and used by organisations. Specifically, how this is being used to power products and services.’

The research also uncovered that each of the four attitudes to data sharing are impacted in different ways by six essential factors.

These factors are:

  • Proximity to purpose: Is there an actual need to have, or give, the data?
  • Obligation or accessory: When the sharing of the data is mandatory or an accepted norm, people will be more willing to share
  • Day-to-day value: What are the benefits of sharing data?
  • Significant life stage: How necessary is sharing data for that ‘next step’?
  • Trust in company: Is the company trusted?
  • Privacy of data: What kind of, and how private is the data that is being asked for?

Jon Roughley adds, ‘Any lack of transparency, poor practices or unclear messages will do more than damage a reputation – they will jeopardise a customer’s willingness to share their data in future. However, there is an opportunity to build transparency and trust with customers by using their data in a clear and coherent way, underpinned by an obvious benefit to the individual.

‘Clearly we need more dialogue and more openness about how data is collected and used. Data sharing can drive innovation and make hugely positive changes to the way the world works, but if we don’t explain how the power of data is harnessed for good, more clearly and concisely, demonstrating a genuine value exchange, then there is chance that we will miss that opportunity.’

Further reading on data sharing

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