Consumers trust brands despite privacy concernsYour customer begins every morning at six o’clock. By noon she has already interacted with dozens of America’s most trusted brands like Amazon, Apple, and Google. As she ponders last year’s data breach with brands like Target Corp, which took a massive brand hit, and Neiman Marcus, she clings tightly to her personal information. But she lowers her guard when it’s a brand that she genuinely trusts like Sony or Starbucks.

Today, consumers are willing to share personal data with trusted brands despite the growing concerns about privacy, according to a new study by SDL. Whether this results in favorable purchasing decisions is unclear. However, it does suggest that there is a fascinating power that exists with trusted brands. And if consumers trust the brand, they’re likely to trust the brand’s content. But still, privacy remains a hot issue. And as this concern continues to bubble among consumers of all ages, exceptional content creation will play a pivotal role in influencing consumer’s attitudes toward your brand.

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According to SDLs Marketing Data and Consumer Privacy Study, 79 percent of consumers across the globe are more likely to provide personal information to brands they trust. And while consumers are not comfortable with being tracked, they tend to not read brands’ privacy policies or take measures to opt-out of web tracking practices. Yet still, consumers are raising questions about corresponding threats to their privacy, which makes it especially important for smaller brands to rise above consumer fear.

In the US alone, 80 percent of consumers continue to reward trusted brands by offering up personal information. Overall, though, 62 percent of consumers worry about how marketers are using this information. And, to no surprise, older consumers worry more. In the United States, 59 percent of consumers between ages 18 and 29 worry about data privacy compared with 71 percent between ages 45 and 60.

Below are five insights that reveal how the right content focus can work to transform your customer’s attitudes towards your brand.

  1. Consumers are willing to share certain details: Of the items that consumers are most willing to share, gender, age and income top the list. However, name of spouse, lists of family and friends and, of course, Social Security numbers are items that most consumers won’t share with brands. Oftentimes, marketers will attempt to extract “extra” information from consumers in an effort to establish a connection through targeted campaigns. But once your customer gets turned off, your brand gets powered down.  So, be careful what you ask for.
  2. Consumers reject in-store tracking: Of those respondents that have a smartphone, 76 percent are not comfortable with retailers tracking in-store movements via smartphones and Wi-Fi. This shows brands are not communicating the benefits of tracking behavior and purchases. Educating customers on your data aggregation is critical. That’s why Google is still a trusted brand for the majority of consumers. And if data collection is paramount to your business, your content should speak volumes about how this ultimately benefits the consumer.
  3. Loyalty programs beat out free products: Overall, 49 percent of respondents said they would give up personal information for a loyalty program, but only 41 percent would do the same for free products and services. These findings show consumers are less attracted to free offers and more willing to engage with a brand when it communicates clearly and focuses on building trust. And free is not always cheaper in the eyes of the consumer. It’s far better to engage your consumers in a way that builds credibility.
  4. Consumers aren’t using privacy features: While consumers are concerned about how their data is being used, 72 percent of global respondents rarely or never use “Do Not Track” or “Incognito” features that would allow them to opt-out of website tracking. This could be a result of the long-winded disclaimers written for lawyers not consumers. However, it’s likely because consumers have a comfort level with the brand. In both cases, it’s really all about the quality of content and branding that precedes the disclaimer.
  5. Consumers skip website privacy policies: Overall, 65 percent rarely or never read a website privacy policy before making a purchase. Let’s face it, these policies are written to protect the brand not the consumer. And they are practically ignored by consumers in all corners of the internet. Yet, all brands would benefit from being more proactive about informing customers about these policies.

Making it all work will require brands to take some personal time to get to know their customers and prospective customers. Trust is hard to build and once you violate it, it becomes a deep aggravating hole to climb out of – even if the infliction wasn’t necessarily your fault. There is a buffer for well established brands, but all brands must tailor their content to align with customer behavior. If not, they’ll never get to know their greatest customers.