Brand Identity, Privacy, and First-Party Data

Many digital marketers are putting their hopes in first-party data as rising privacy standards complicate the market for third-party data. But brands cannot expect customers to hand over data in the new privacy-forward era of marketing if the brand itself has a shady reputation.

Lucid is a research technology, or ResTech, firm that hooks up companies with millions of customers to gauge customer sentiment at scale. I connected with Pauline Wen, chief privacy officer at Lucid, to understand the challenges brands are facing and how they can navigate a rising bar for privacy.

How can marketers best earn consumer trust in a pandemic era?

The pandemic has led to increased digital interactions and digital consumption, resulting in more data flowing through digital platforms. With that, there are three principles marketers must remember when it comes to data privacy and earning consumer trust: transparency or consumer expectations, control, and accountability. 

With that said, 2021 is the year marketers must also embrace the ethical sourcing of data. They must work with data scientists to ensure that any data collection and utilization is done properly. They also must actively work with consumers and give them opportunities for control, which may be by explicit consent. Remaining transparent with consumers as to how and why marketers are using their data will be critical.

What will the future of privacy look like for marketers?

There are a few things that marketers should plan for when thinking about the future of privacy: planning for a cookieless landscape; understanding the impact of forthcoming initiatives to address a cookieless world on first-party data; and working within guidelines despite a continued fragmentation of US privacy laws and data protection laws around the world as data flows occur within and outside of state or country borders. 

Data is not the enemy; it’s the solution but must be ethically sourced.

How does the importance of establishing brand identity continue to evolve in a privacy-forward era?

When we say that the three principles to earning consumer trust in a privacy-forward era are transparency, control, and accountability, we must understand that it all starts with brand image and identity. 

Consumers want to understand the inner workings of the brand they’re choosing to do business with; they want to make sure their ideologies align, and they more often than not want to feel as though the brand they are working with is doing good for the community. We cannot expect consumers to be open and trusting with data about them if they cannot trust the brand that has access to that data. It is the brand’s job to be clear about its data practices and embrace transparency as an opportunity to build trust with consumers.

Why is relying on research from first-party data key to building trust between brand and consumer?

Consumer sentiment should, and must, guide future marketing strategies. Consumers want to understand how [their] data will be used, and marketers have the forum to inform consumers whether they will use data to help guide future strategies based on consumer needs, interests, and preferences, or for other purposes. 

This is also where market research, and the value of research technology (ResTech), increases exponentially. ResTech puts first-party consumer sentiments into the hands of marketers to make sure that their messaging will resonate with their intended audiences across channels, no matter how frequently attitudes may change.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He joined Street Fight as a contributing writer in 2015, has compiled the daily newsletter since 2016, and has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Shoot him an email at jzappa@streetfightmag.com.