Consumers value privacy over convenience


Due to privacy concerns, more than half of all consumers have at least once decided against buying something online, confirms “Crossing the line“, an international survey carried out by the global advisory firm KPMG.

“Consumers’ concern about privacy and data security is becoming increasingly more important in making consumption decisions,” explained KPMG Baltics’s head of IT advisory services Teet Raidma. “Considering how closely consumers and public authorities monitor data security, this means that in the worst case regarding data security as a secondary matter may cause a company to go out of business.”

According to the survey which covered 24 countries and approximately 10,000 consumers, more than 90% of the respondents believed that they lose control of the data they submit. The fact that it is almost impossible to claw back the data which has been surrendered is also regarded as a problem. For online service providers it is important to know that over half of the respondents said they valued privacy more than the client experience that sharing data with an online service provider would offer.

Cool or creepy?

At the same time, a considerable number of consumers like a more relevant and personalised service that data sharing offers. “Drawing the line between necessary and excessive is complicated – KPMG’s survey shows clearly that what is “cool” for some, is “creepy” for others,” said Raidma. “Still, social media, entertainment and gaming companies are perceived to ask for an unnecessary amount of personal information.”

82% of respondents admitted that it bothers them that their data is transferred to third parties for a better service, e.g. home delivery, price comparison or a more favourable end price; 55% of respondents think that a free fitness-tracking device that produces regular well-being reports for the user and his/her employer would clearly cross the line. In addition, more than two thirds of respondents do not feel comfortable when smartphone and tablet apps use their personal data.

On the other hand, 78% of participants approved of devices that enable emergency services to track their vehicles in the event of an accident. Also, 57% of participants liked the idea of smart energy meters although the data transferred by them would allow drawing detailed conclusions about their everyday habits at home. More than half of the participants were willing to share information about their education, gender and ethnicity.


Distrust of retailers and social media

In data handling, consumers trust banking companies, health care providers and law enforcement institutions the most and retail and social media companies the least.

According to consumers, the most serious data handling issues include use of their data for unwanted marketing, resale of their data and lack of secure systems.

Often the terms and conditions of an online shop are too complex or it takes too much time to read them through. Therefore, consumers do not read them carefully. In consumers’ opinion, the solution lies in making the terms and conditions simpler for the reader. This would also help to improve their trust in retailers.