So whose data is it anyway?

NEW research from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) shows that people are nervous about sharing personal data, as fears of data breaches and misuse has them on high alert.

CIM's new report 'Whose data is it anyway?' reveals a shocking 96 per cent of consumers in Northern Ireland do not fully understand where and how marketers, brands and organisations use their personal information and data.

More than half of all consumers surveyed (60 per cent) say they do not trust an organisation to use their data responsibly – the biggest issue being that their information may be passed onto others without consent (41 per cent).

More worryingly, 41 per cent of consumers also report having received communications from organisations they feel have misused their data, with 12 per cent saying it happens all the time. This is while the majority of consumers in Northern Ireland (79 per cent) still do not see the benefit of sharing their personal data at all.

Aside from cyber-crime and online fraud, the report also reveals consumers in Northern Ireland are most concerned about being unable to control who holds their data (45 per cent), their details being used to send physical or online junk mail or spam (44 per cent) and unwanted social media advertising appearing on their social feeds (34 per cent). Only 17 per cent admit to always reading the available T&Cs before providing their personal data and almost a quarter (23 per cent) admit to not knowing their data protection rights as a consumer.

Although our report reveals data discrepancies and concerns to be worryingly prevalent across the board, two-thirds (66 per cent) of customers here actually say they would share more personal information if organisations were more open about how they will use it.

Customer data is essential for marketers to reach the right audience and meet customers' needs and interests. Marketers and businesses need to do the following otherwise they risk alienating their customers, and that benefits no-one:

1. Be straight with people – there is a lot of confusion when it comes to data. Marketers should champion consumers and tell them when they plan to collect data, why they wish to do so and what they intend to do with it. This should be communicated in a clear and open manner across all forms of data capture.

2. Articulate the benefits – if marketers can demonstrate the positive benefits of their data collection to the consumer, and what it will enable them to do such as sharing topical and relevant products and services, then they may be able to gain more buy-in from consumers to extend this.

3. Show you respect customer data – trust, honesty and transparency needs to be at the heart of the relationship between marketers and their customers. It's clear that the topic of data really matters to consumers, and they want reassurance that marketers are using it securely, and most of all, responsibly.

4. Gain an understanding of data dos and don'ts – marketers should continually familiarise themselves with consumers' data rights and the law. Introducing training across an organisation should help to make the correct data approach and procedures the responsibility of the whole business, and a development priority for all staff. Similarly, consumers should also better understand their data protection rights.

Find out more details about the ‘Whose data is it anyway?' report by visiting:

:: Carol Magill is CIM network manager for Ireland.

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