Private Property, Keep Out

How much personal information are consumers willing to provide? In what circumstances? 
Sophie Lamarche
1 March 2014
Data Management
2 min 25
propriete privee defense de passer

I recently made a purchase in a retail store, like the majority of people do every week. As I expected, given that we have been accustomed to this for a few years now, the employee asked for my postal code at the time of checkout. Until then, it was fine. When she asked for my email, I admit I was a little irritated. But when she asked for my phone number, frankly, I found it exceeded the limits. I just bought a simple coffee maker, not a car!

This made ??me think. How much personal information are consumers willing to provide? In what circumstances? What can companies ask a customer during a transaction?

A trusting relationship

According to a study from SDL[1], 62% of consumers are concerned about the use of their personal information by marketers. And according to the same study, 79% of respondents are more likely to provide information to a business who gained their trust first.

Considering this, before trying to collect as much information as possible about a customer, you should analyze your relationship with them. Is this the first contact? Did they already make ??several purchases? The more the information is collected in small doses and over a longer period of time, the less likely you are to scare the customer away by being too intrusive.

What are they willing to tell?

Information personnelle

Some information is disclosed easier than others. Each person categorizes the confidentiality degree of each type of information differently. But we can trust our common sense that the first name, the last name, the gender, the age and the e-mail is not data that is too sensitive. Whereas asking for the names of friends and family or phone numbers may be considered off-limits. Certain transaction types do not lend themselves to gathering detailed information either. For example, for a small purchase like my coffee maker, not more than one piece of information should be requested at checkout. For transactions of more expensive products, where you sit with a vendor, consumers will be more willing to give more information.

What do they want in return?

It is also important to understand that consumers do not give away their personal information just because you are asking for it. They must see an advantage or, ultimately, no obvious disadvantage. That is why, to request more information from your target audience, some situations are preferred:

  • When registering to a loyalty program
  • When entering a contest
  • To receive personalized offers
  • To receive free products

In a context where people are harassed almost every day to give their personal information, it is better to go smoothly if you expect a positive outcome. I agree: the more information you have, the richer and useful your customer profile is to customize your deals and get better results. But I also believe that progress is the key to success. After all, a contact with some missing information is always better than no contact at all because you have annoyed them!

See more on progressive profiling here.

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