Over half of consumers have decided against an online purchase due to privacy concerns

Over half of consumers decided against online purchase

According to a new report by KPMG International, 55 percent of consumers globally said they had decided against buying something online due to privacy concerns. Furthermore, less than 10 percent of consumers feel they have control over the way organizations handle and use their personal data today, with respondents in most countries saying that privacy control is more important than the potential convenience gained from sharing personal data.

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“An executive would be at risk of being fired if half their customer base disappeared after they made a crucial business decision,” said Mihai Rada, IT Advisory Director at KPMG in Romania. “Failure to embed privacy into the DNA of their business strategy could ultimately lead to the extinction of a business given how closely consumers and regulators alike are paying attention to how organizations collect, store and use personal data.”   

‘Creepy’ versus ‘cool’

When it comes to the global attitudes on the usages of personal data, consumers draw the line in dramatically different places. 

What one consumer finds ‘creepy’ …

  • 82 percent are not comfortable with the sale of their data to third-parties in exchange for the speed, convenience, product range, home delivery and price comparison that online shopping offers
  • 55 percent said a free fitness tracking device that monitors the well-being of users and produces a monthly report for them and their employer is crossing the line

Another finds cool…

  • 78 percent think telematics devices that enable emergency services to track their customers’ vehicles are a good thing
  • 57 percent are happy to have a smart energy meter installed that enables a provider to deduce how many people live in a home, when they eat and sleep, and the appliances used 

While concerns around the “creepy line” vary, the overall top 3 concerns about the way organizations are handling and using their personal information were: 1) unwanted marketing; 2) personal information being sold on to third-parties and 3) lack of secure systems. The survey found that strong cyber security systems (32 percent) are the most effective thing an organization can do for customers to trust them with their personal data. 

Data sharing

Over half of survey respondents said they were willing to share their gender, education or ethnicity online, while a considerably lower proportion were happy to share more sensitive information, such as location (16 percent), address (14 percent) or medical records (13 percent).

Consumers are increasingly taking matters into their own hands, with half of survey respondents saying they already delete their internet browser cookies or manage their social media settings. Almost one-third even use incognito or ‘do not track’ modes, while a quarter percent use encryption. 

Other global highlights

The survey emphasized that 57 percent of people fail to read, or only skim, privacy policies on entering websites. As these privacy policies are usually consisting of tens of pages, the rest of the respondents are most likely reading only introductory notes or are just browsing quickly the content without really given enough attention to most of the provisions. And this is usually leading to unwanted marketing situation, due to some policy provisions (usually well disguised) that allows the usage of your personal data in this respect. Unwanted marketing (59 percent) was cited as consumers’ top concern about businesses using their personal data, followed by their data being sold to third-parties (58 percent) and organizations having unsecure systems (55 percent). 

“Being more careful in reading privacy policy whenever entering new (or old, for what matters) web site can partially solve this” says Gheorghe Vlad, Senior Manager within the IT Advisory practice of KPMG in Romania. “Sometimes is just a matter of reaching the end of the policy and just un-ticking some option, that if remained ticked, will allow the web site to use your personal data either for own purposes or for sharing it with various third parties and organizations” he continues.

For companies seeking to use personal data to personalize their marketing and services to the individual, build brand loyalty and develop better products, it is important they understand that although opinions on privacy vary around the globe, it is clear that, more than anything, consumers value privacy over convenience. “The importance of privacy and data protection has become even more important lately, as in May 2016 the European Union has passed the General Data Protection Regulation which will enter into force on 25 May 2018.” notes Mihai Rada. “Failing to comply with this regulation will lead to fines up to 20 million EUR or 4% of the global annual turnover (whichever is higher)” he continues. 

About the survey

The report, ‘Creepy or cool? Staying on the right side of the consumer line’, details the privacy preferences of 6,900 consumers in 24 countries and was in field between 14 April and 5 May, 2016.  

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