Data danger: 71% of Brits avoid creating new company accounts because of data worries

May 23, 2018

British consumers are so worried about sharing their personal data with companies that seven in ten (71%) actively avoid creating new accounts with companies, according to new Mintel research on consumers’ attitudes towards data sharing.

Despite the imminent enforcement of General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), giving EU consumers more control over how companies use their personal data, Mintel finds that even young consumers, who are generally more relaxed about sharing their data, are similarly worried. An apprehensive two-thirds (66%) of 16-24-year-olds limit starting new accounts due to data worries, with anxiety peaking among the 55+ age group (81%).

The safety of their financial data (such as credit cards) causes Brits the biggest consternation, as 87% say they are concerned about sharing these details with companies. Brits are also nervous about the security of their email content (85%), while 73% worry about the security of their web browsing history.

Giving away their location is a big concern for young people, with 73% of 16-24-year-olds saying so, compared to 69% of Brits overall. This is the only data sharing category that this age group was more anxious about than the population as a whole.

Adrian Reynolds, Senior Technology Analyst at Mintel, said:

“The increasing use of connected devices to access websites and apps is producing a wealth of personal data sharing, making it very difficult for consumers to keep track. For many, limiting further exposure is their prefered option. Even young people, while more willing to create new accounts with companies, are sufficiently concerned about data sharing and most are limiting new account creation.

“The GDPR regulations will usher in a new data sharing landscape giving consumers far greater autonomy over their personal information. GDPR will also provide opportunities for brands to reduce consumers’ concerns. If they are shown exactly how their data is used, given the option to remove material that was previously stored and feel they have more autonomy over its future use, then consumers will be more receptive to creating new accounts.”

Over half of Brits unsure about how much data they’re sharing online

Over half (52%) of Brits are not confident about how much data they are sharing online, rising to 54% of those aged 34-44 and 59% of those aged 55-64.

Meanwhile, a cautious eight in ten (81%) Brits avoid sharing personal data with companies they’re aware have been compromised by cyber-attacks, with 79% of 16-24-year-olds and 89% of those aged 55+ opting for this safety-first approach.

“Most consumers understandably don’t want to share data with companies that have been compromised in cyber-attacks. If such an attack occurs, consumers want to be made aware of exactly what data has been compromised, why and what efforts are being taken to avoid it happening again. Otherwise, companies risk losing customers permanently, or at least losing access to data following the implementation of GDPR. As consumers become more aware of the extent of information held about them, alongside their ability to have it removed, reports of data breaches are likely to have a more detrimental impact for companies beyond just fines.” Adrian adds.

Better communications/incentives could encourage more data sharing

Londoners are the most likely to feel comfortable sharing their data if they receive regular updates on how it is being used (59%), while the Welsh (45%) are the least convinced, and 52% of Brits overall would be happy with this. Younger people have a more relaxed attitude, with 65% of 16-24-year-olds willing to share their data in this way.

Overall, four in ten (40%) 16-24-year-olds would be encouraged to share more personal data with companies if they were offered free samples based on products they’ve viewed or purchased. This is double the number of those aged 55+ (20%) and compares to 30% of the population as a whole. Meanwhile, a third (34%) of Brits feel most comfortable sharing data on laptops and a quarter (25%) are happy to do so on smartphones, rising to half (49%) of 16-24-year-olds.

GDPR offers companies the chance to change mindsets on data sharing, with more upfront and transparent communications over the extent of data usage. Brands must highlight the benefits of data sharing through tailored promotions, while also instilling trust.

“As consumers gain a better understanding of the financial value of their data and become more comfortable sharing personal information, incentives will play an increasingly important role. This is especially the case for young consumers, who have grown up with smartphones and are generally more tech savvy. They are more likely to use GDPR to their advantage, or at least be quick to remove data from companies they do not trust.” Concludes Adrian.

Susanna Capecchi
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