Out of seven different topics, privacy and authenticity emerged as growing concerns among people polled this July by Merkle’s global performance marketing agency. Why do these matter?
They matter because consumer attitudes have been evolving in large part because of the pandemic. The privacy issue is perplexing because much attention has been focused lately on brands needing to tailor messages to customers for greater success. Not having enough information handicaps brands from doing this. Yet, 50% of those polled believe brands already know too much about them. Just 16% felt brands didn’t have enough information.
On the other hand, the 50% contrasts with 71% who said they would be willing to spend a minute to complete a short survey when visiting a new brand for the first time. And more than half said they’d be willing to share demographic data if it would result in future personalized experiences.
Respondents were most uncomfortable sharing their location, search history, photos and other people’s information. Of nine areas, the four they felt most comfortable sharing were data that would customize and enhance their shopping experience, target advertising, customize online profiles used by the customer, and pharmaceutical research.
Formerly the domain of younger demographics, authenticity has been adopted by most generations since the pandemic. Those surveyed felt brands that shared and communicated their values and demonstrated their support of social causes via donations and in-kind gifts while using diverse people in their ads and media were authentic.
71% of those polled said they don’t see themselves represented in ads or messages. Younger generations and women earning higher incomes were affected even more so. More inclusive marketing that’s sensitive to and reflects the interests of these demographics can greatly improve this.
An interesting discovery was the number of respondents who felt that brands that appeared to join the crowd in issuing statements of support for a cause seemed the least authentic. They felt that brands need to avoid the appearance of jumping on the proverbial bandwagon by taking tangible action steps to demonstrate their concern.
On the personal side of authenticity, consumers said they need to feel brands were hearing them. They felt that good brands should open up more avenues of customer feedback and provide individualized responses. The rationale behind this was the 30% who reported receiving messaging they felt was offensive or tone-deaf.
Tactics to avoid based on the survey include banner ads with the customer’s name on it, customer identification like recommendations based on predicted life events, Instagram ads for talked about products, automatically using photos to be made into a product, bundling photos into vacation memories, and reports of the customer’s streaming behavior.
A couple of tactics respondents felt comfortable with were recommendations for a product on a different site and recommendations for products on the same site.
Brands must work to find a balance in gathering necessary information while steering away from areas that are perceived to be invasive. Consumers want to be heard, and brands willing to work hand-in-hand with them to complete and fulfill the customer journey while honoring and respecting their privacy concerns will succeed. One way to achieve that is to encourage customer feedback and invite their comments and suggestions. Another is through surveys.
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