Awareness of General Data Protection is low amongst Consumers

April 27, 2018
Industry News
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Kantar finds that two fifths of customers are unwilling to share personal data, but brands should see the GDPR as an opportunity.

The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) come into full force on 25 May this year, so marketers and market research professionals in particular are working hard to ensure their businesses are compliant with the updated rules around personal data and privacy.

Although most of the regulations have existed before, the new rules go deeper and broader, expanding the definition of personal data, imposing harsher fines, and going broader than the EU – the rules apply to the personal data of EU residents, regardless of where the data is stored.

For marketers, the term GDPR has become incredibly familiar, but the public don’t seem to be on the same page. Kantar TNS’ GDPR Awareness Index shows that public awareness of GDPR is at a low level – just 34% knew what it was when polled in February. Understanding of what is covered by the new regulation is also poor.  

The rights for consumers – to be forgotten, to object to data processing, and to see what businesses hold on them – come at a time when trust in brands is pretty low.
When asked which sectors they would be prepared to give permission to for use of their personal data, UK adults interviewed by Kantar TNS were most likely to say banks and public sector services. However,42% said they wouldn’t give permission to any companies from the range of sectors listed(also including general retail, telecoms, travel, transport services and media / news outlets) to use their personal data. There is a sharp difference between younger (27% for 16-24 year olds) and older (56% for 65+ years) members of the public.

Over the past 12 months, Kantar TNS has also looked at how people on social media and blogs are talking about GDPR, as well as looking at search activity. The volume of conversations specifically referencing GDPR is relatively small, although more and more are taking place as the deadline approaches. The dialogue is definitely more professional than personal, taking place between GDPR experts providing content and services and organisations looking for advice about GDPR compliance.

Kantar TNS has also found that many GDPR-related conversations revolve around trust. Indeed, businesses are keen to use the opportunity of cleaning up databases, reviewing consent wording and privacy policies, and creating more stringent measures around data collection and management, as a way to actively build trust with their customers.

Phil Sutcliffe, head of offer and innovation at Kantar TNS UK, comments, ‘It is reassuring to see that the online conversation around GDPR is mostly focused on the opportunity to build trust. However, there remains a huge gap between the opportunity and reality. Our survey shows us that business is not yet cutting through in creating awareness of GDPR with the public, yet alone using it to build consumer trust. Action needs to be taken soon to prevent the very significant proportion of consumers who say they wouldn’t give permission for use of their personal data from acting on that intention once GDPR comes into force.’

Kantar Health, notes: ‘To prepare for GDPR is not an option; it is a compulsory action for all businesses. Healthcare data especially is classified as sensitive data, and the GDPR contains new provisions intended to enhance the protection of sensitive data. Those doing very little or nothing right now are putting their businesses at risk. Notwithstanding regulatory sanctions, they will lose customers’ trust very quickly right after 25 May.’ 

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