Business

Building trust in a post-GDPR world

Amazon said this year’s Cyber Monday was the biggest shopping day in its 24-year history
Chris Daly

HOW many sales emails did you receive this Black Friday? And how many of those did you opt in to receive?

New research shows there has been minimal change to the number of consumers receiving unwanted calls and emails, despite the introduction of GDPR in May.

Six months on from the introduction of the new data protection laws, CIM has conducted a flagship survey of over 1,500 respondents to assess the impact on consumers before and after the legislation.

It found that four in ten (42 per cent) consumers surveyed said they had received communications from businesses they had not given permission to contact them in the six months since the new data rules came into force. This is only a marginal decrease compared to the 48 per cent in the six months before GDPR.

Worryingly, some 40 per cent of respondents from Northern Ireland said that they do not trust organisations to use their data responsibly. In addition, 30 per cent said they had received a communication they hadn't opted in to in the last month. A staggering 50 per cent said they don't think GDPR has influenced the number of communications they receive.

It seems that despite the increased legislation, businesses are still failing to convince the public that they can be trusted with their data. Indeed, while many businesses are making efforts to ensure they're GDPR compliant, the research highlights that they are struggling to convince consumers of this professional approach.

Trust in brands to use consumer data responsibly has hardly changed; just over half (59 per cent) of consumers believe that organisations can generally be trusted to use their data responsibly today, compared to 54 per cent in the run up to GDPR's introduction.

Worryingly, the research also showed that consumers are still unsure of their data protection rights. Just 47 per cent of respondents said they know their rights as a consumer in relation to data protection. This has only risen five percentage points, from 43 per cent, since the run-up to GDPR. The regulation has clearly not boosted actual understanding of how and why organisations use data.

With this in mind, one might expect a return to bricks-and-mortar this Black Friday in a bid to escape the digital chaos of the event. Indeed, in a competitive and turbulent retail environment, building customer loyalty and trust is key – especially around emerging dates in the shopping calendar, such as Black Friday.

But on the UK high street, footfall in towns, shopping centres and retail parks was down by 6 per cent on Black Friday, according to the shopper monitoring firm Springboard. Indeed, figures from PwC published ahead of the weekend indicated that only a quarter of all Black Friday spending was expected to take place in physical stores.

Even among over 65s, more than 60 per cent of spending was expected to be online, albeit overwhelmingly via desktop or laptop, rather than on mobile. Amazon have already reported that this year's Cyber Monday was the biggest shopping day in its 24-year history.

Despite changes to consumer buying habits, it seems that GDPR has done well in empowering consumers to ask the right questions about their data use – and get the most value from the information they do share. However, the opportunity still remains for marketers to manage and answer these concerns, and to prove the benefit of data collection and analysis in increasing the level of valuable engagement for consumers.

With shopping trends generally moving towards the online space, collecting and utilising data in the correct way is critical. It seems businesses in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK need to work harder than ever to convince consumers that businesses can be trusted with their data, and this starts with effective professional marketing.

:: Chris Daly is chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM)

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