New Study Shows the Impact of Transparency on Consumer Trust

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Eighty-five percent of consumers are at least a little bit worried about their privacy online, with one in five (19%) citing that they are “very worried,” according to a recent survey Measure Protocol conducted across our network of MSR app users (1,241 respondents). These sentiments are on the rise, with 54% of our respondents indicating they are more concerned about their online privacy today than they were one year ago. It’s time for a new approach to consumer privacy. 

Yes, there are privacy regulations in place. Widespread awareness of GDPR, CCPA, and other mandates may be paving the way, but companies need to think beyond simple compliance and make privacy part of their vision, ethos, and strategy. The majority of our respondents (59%) said they have a general distrust of those using their data. This will intrinsically make them less likely to share information that companies need to make business decisions.

Companies should build privacy practices, based on transparency and accountability, into their marketing strategies. Communicating these initiatives clearly and often to consumers can help to build trust and encourage sharing. But how does it actually work in real life? 

Marketing research based on consumer trust

Market research is an industry that is intrinsically close to consumers. It is tasked with understanding how they feel, what actions they are taking, and what they think about products, services, and brands. Uncovering the motivations — the why — behind these answers is also the job of the researcher. As consumer behaviors and engagement become more complicated, obtaining data and insights that show the whole picture is essential to guiding brands through a complex marketplace. 

If a consumer doesn’t trust the entity that is asking them questions, then they simply won’t share their information. In fact, our survey found that 66% of respondents will refuse to participate or share very little information if they don’t trust the company with which they are interacting. This doesn’t equal solid data for making important business decisions. 

In our exploration into these issues, we’ve found several actions have a positive impact on participation levels in marketing research. The best are those that put the consumer first. These lessons can be applied across the business ecosystem to help companies build better relationships with their audiences and gain a deeper understanding of their needs and behaviors. 

According to direct client feedback, our research found that a high level of willingness to share valuable data was based on several key factors. Using open-ended question responses from survey participants, some of those factors are outlined below:

  • “Effort protecting our privacy … information is given to us about how data is collected and used.” We found that the more upfront and transparent you are about exactly how you are using the data, the better. Provide an environment that goes above and beyond to protect data privacy, and clearly communicate this priority to users.

  • “Efficient, smooth-running, and clean.” Building a positive, predictable user experience is more likely to build connections that encourage information sharing. Consistency, reliability, and good design provide the basis for the relationship needed to collect data from individuals who are important to your business.
  • “I like control over my data.” Give your consumers choices. They know how valuable their data is, and they don’t want it being used without their express permission. This relates back to transparency, privacy, and communication. Put in some extra layers of messaging or technology that will allow them to control more of what they choose to share. (On another note, this realization of personal data value is also pushing a demand for fair compensation. Depending on the type of outreach, building in rewards and incentives that resonate can be very powerful.)

  • “Have visible people behind the site” or product, or brand, or business. While we can conduct our entire lives online, we found that many people appreciate customer service that connects to a real human being. This helps to build credibility and reputation, and it encourages trust when a consumer is able to communicate one on one with someone at the company with which they are interacting.

It’s time to start proactively addressing consumer privacy concerns. The data shows that people are becoming more concerned about privacy, and all signs point to the continuation of this trend.  

Start with building trust through simple actions like better communication and user experiences. Bake consumer trust initiatives into your corporate strategy by investing in technology, creating formal KPIs, and educating your internal audiences and stakeholders about its importance.

Paul Neto is co-founder and CMO at Measure Protocol.