Nearly half of consumers feel they've lost control of their data, finds Deloitte

16 October 2019 3 min. read
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Retailers need to up their privacy consciousness as consumer trust declines in the digital age. Forty-seven percent of American consumers feel they have little to no control of their personal data, according to Deloitte’s US Consumer Data Privacy survey of 2000 consumers and 201 retail executives.

Digitalization has increased the risk of data breaches, with 1 in 3 Americans having been exposed to a data compromise. Americans are also increasingly aware of threats, with nearly half of US states having introduced or enacted new privacy laws.

In this environment, 86% of consumers believe they should be able to opt out of the sale of their data, the Deloitte survey found. Nearly three in four (71%) consumers are willing to share personal data if they receive better pricing, special discounts, or exclusive offers, however. Furthermore, consumers who are satisfied with privacy policies are more likely to be open or neutral about sharing personal data (71%) than consumer who are unsatisfied or unaware (57%).

Data-wise, customer-centric, and privacy conscious retailers, as such, have the ability to capitalize on consumer opportunities while also keeping ahead of advancing regulatory strictures. “Retailers who focus on consumer privacy as a strategic growth driver are poised to create more meaningful data, enhance consumer engagement, and reduce exposure to risk, all while staying ahead of the evolution of privacy in consumer business," Rod Sides, vice chairman and US leader for retail, wholesale and distribution at Deloitte Consulting, said.
Nearly half of consumers feel they’ve lost control of their data, finds Deloitte

Trust deficit

Only 5% of consumers listed retailers as one of the top three businesses they trust with personal data as compared to other industries. Sixty-three percent of surveyed consumers said they believe retailers are accountable for safeguarding consumer privacy in the retail industry – more so than the government (50%) or technology partners (27%).

There is also a disconnect between how consumers think retailers use their data, and what execs say they use it for. More than two-thirds of consumers believe their data is mostly being used for targeted marketing, while 55% think retailers share data with third parties or sell it to outside buyers.

Retail executives said the top three uses of consumers data were increasing operational efficiencies (53%), improving product selection (52%), and enhancing in-store services or experiences (49%). Deloitte advises that retailers could build trust by more openly sharing how data is actually used.

"With increased scrutiny on consumer and data privacy, there is a call to action to define a new standard that works for consumers and retailers,” Rob Goldberg, cyber risk leader for retail, wholesale and distribution at Deloitte, said. “Future leaders in data privacy should adopt guiding principles that align across the entire organization as an essential part of their strategy, culture, and operations.

“Retailers should work every day to connect with consumers in a way that builds trust, manages legal risk, and enables their growth strategy."

On the retailer side, the study found that only 32% of retailers could be classified as privacy “leaders.” Twenty-seven percent were categorized as “laggards” who had not made privacy a priority, and 41% were “adopters” who were working to increase their focus on privacy.