Consumer Privacy Survey: Consumers Appreciate Transparency From Brands

Consumer privacy is a big issue in today’s world, especially with the number of people who shop, share or otherwise interact with people or brands online. According to the Pew Research Center, most consumers want privacy online, but don’t feel like complete privacy is actually possible. But businesses that interact with customers online and elsewhere can still take care with how they use customer data. We asked 1,000 consumers about their thoughts on privacy issues and how different privacy related situations might impact their perceptions of various brands.

consumer privacy

Consumer Privacy

In Ask Your Target Market’s latest online survey, 73% of respondents said they are generally concerned about privacy issues when making purchases online. Conversely, 53% of respondents said they are generally concerned about privacy issues when making purchases in person. 52% said that privacy concerns have impacted their buying decisions in the past. And 82% believe that consumers should have a right to privacy online.

Brand Perceptions

More specifically, 64% of respondents said that they would think negatively of a company if it used their personal information for any purposes not specifically outlined in a privacy policy. 63% would think negatively of a company that experienced a privacy breach. 62% would have a negative opinion of a company that shared their personal data with other companies. 57% would think negatively of a company that shared their data with government agencies. And 55% said they would have a negative opinion of a company with an unclear privacy policy. Just 12% of consumers said that none of those items would bother them.

On the other end of the spectrum, 69% said that they would have a more positive opinion of a company that just keeps customer data totally private. 64% react positively when businesses have clear privacy policies. Another 64% appreciate when businesses respond to any privacy breaches quickly. And 62% like when companies only use customer data for purposes clearly outlined in a privacy policy. Consumers named Amazon, PayPal, Walmart, Apple, Google and eBay as companies that do a good job of protecting consumer privacy.

Privacy Policies

Privacy policies can be especially helpful in getting consumers to understand what to expect from various companies in regards to their personal information. However, not everyone reads them regularly. Just 14% said that they always read privacy policies when signing up for new products or services online. 27% read privacy policies most of the time. 23% do so about half the time. 24% said they rarely ever read privacy policies when signing up for new products or services. And 12% never do.

Key Takeaways

Privacy can be a complicated issue for consumers and brands. And companies that do business online can have an even harder time convincing customers that their data is safe and secure. Basically, there are many different ways that brands can hurt their own reputations by misusing customer data. So the best thing any company can do is be clear about how it intends to use any data it collects and try to be transparent about any issues. And while privacy policies can be important, it may also be necessary for some businesses to be even more up front about any uses of customer data that could be seen as unexpected.

You can view the complete survey results in the widget below and be sure to click “Open Full Report” to take advantage of all the chart and filter options.

Photo Credit: Privacy by Owen Moore under CC BY 2.0

What do you want to know? If you need some consumer insights on a particular topic, let us know in the comments below and we’ll consider it for an upcoming survey post.

Results were collected on December 30-January 5 via AYTM’s online survey panel.


Anne Pilon brings 3 years experience to AYTM as a blogger and journalist. She has a degree in journalism and marketing communications from Columbia College in Chicago and enjoys writing about business, marketing, social media, and art.

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