There is a high level of awareness about data collection, with 85% of Australians aware that companies like Facebook, Google, and media publishers are collecting and using their personal data, according to new research by consumer intelligence platform, Toluna.

However, the same percentage (85%) said they were concerned about the information collected by these companies; with half (50%) saying companies are requesting too much personal data for their liking.  

The research showed varying levels of trust between companies, and that Australians are willing to give up some of their personal information in exchange for loyalty rewards, for entertainment purposes, or even to receive targeted advertising. 

The biggest concern for consumers around data privacy is the possibility of the data being hacked and their personal information stolen (76%), closely followed by the concern that their data will be shared or sold to other companies (58%).  

When it came to the types of information consumers are willing to share with brands, almost half (49%) are happy to share their entertainment choices, such as movies watched, or games played; 47% are also willing to share their lifestyle information such as hobbies and interests.

One in four (40%) were happy to share their demographic information with brands, such as age, gender, and income. But only around one-third said they’d be willing to share purchase history (33%) or online browsing behaviour (29%), with few willing to share real-time location information, such as GPS data or browser IP (18%).

One-third (36%) of respondents said they do trust retailers with their personal data (versus only 26% who didn’t), and around the same number (35%) said they trust their data in the hands of airlines. Almost half (44%) also said they trusted the government to look after their data, with only 29% who didn’t. 

Loyalty programs

Most respondents (81%) were a member of a loyalty program such as Flybuys and Woolworths Rewards, with the majority of those (77%) stating they receive benefits from these programs. Almost one-quarter (23%) said they receive little to no benefit from being a member of a loyalty program.  

Interestingly, respondents thought it was worth sharing their personal data with loyalty programs, with 61% of respondents stating they get at least some value and recognition for sharing things like personal data and shopping habits.  

In terms of benefits, most members (51%) would prefer cash rewards as an incentive, followed by points to collect and redeem for products or services later (38%). Only 12% of respondents said they’d prefer exclusive discounts or offers as a reward.  

Targeted advertising

Feelings were split when it came to targeted advertising, with 40% of respondents stating they were unwilling to receive targeted ads based on their browsing history versus 37% who were ok with targeted ads. Meanwhile 23% didn’t mind one way or the other.  

Of those willing to receive targeted ads, it was because they wanted ads which were relevant to them (65%) and they wanted a personalised experience (37%). These respondents also said they would be willing to receive targeted advertising from companies who react quickly to hacks (31%), who were considered trustworthy by friends and family (31%), and who publicised how they use consumer data (29%).  

For those unwilling to receive targeted advertising, the majority simply thought targeted advertising was irrelevant to them (62%). They were also put off if companies didn’t share their approach to protecting data (32%), if they didn’t publicise the reason they collect data (36%), or if they didn’t react quickly to hacks (25%).  

Toluna Australia and New Zealand country director, Sej Patel said that businesses need to ensure consumers are adequately rewarded for their data.  

“Understanding your customers is a core component of business, but as consumers become more savvy about data collection, transparency is key. Businesses need to clearly state the reasons they’re collecting customer information and provide adequate incentives to continue to build trust.”  

“These findings show us that when consumers feel as though they’ve been rewarded for sharing their data – whether that be tailored streaming suggestions or loyalty rewards – that they’re much happier to share this information.

“Further, the levels of trust found amongst airlines and retailers, who are generally leaders in rewarding customers for sharing data, are viewed as more trustworthy organisations. Businesses across all industries would do well to see how they can reward customers for sharing their data, while also taking all necessary steps to keep it safe.”