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Businesses failing to win consumer trust

Businesses are still largely failing to win the trust of consumers to keep their personal data safe as data breaches continue to make headlines

There has been minimal change to the number of consumers receiving unwanted calls and emails, despite the introduction of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a study shows.

Four in 10 (42%) consumers surveyed by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) said they had received communications from businesses they had not given permission to contact them in the six months since the new data rules came into force.

This is only a marginal decrease on 48% in the six months before GDPR, according to the study, which was conducted through analysis of periods before and after GDPR took effect to assess its impact with consumers.

Trust in firms to use consumer data responsibly has also hardly changed and remains very low, the study shows. Only a quarter of consumers polled (24%) believe that businesses treat people’s personal data in an honest and transparent way, only slightly higher than the 18% when GDPR took effect.

Trust is highest among the younger generations, with 33% of 18-24-year-olds and 34% of 24-35-year-olds saying they trust businesses with their data, compared with only 17% of over-55s.

According to the study report, the lack of any major impact of GDPR on public trust indicates that an ongoing campaign to drive greater awareness and understanding across all UK businesses is required.

The study shows that more consumers feel empowered to take immediate action if businesses fail to deliver relevant communications. Half of those surveyed believe the introduction of GDPR has made them more likely to unsubscribe, rather than simply ignore communications from businesses, or consciously not opt in at all.

Businesses are well-versed in the need to become GDPR compliant, but the study shows consumers have been left behind in understanding their data rights.

Just 47% of respondents said they know their rights as a consumer in relation to data protection. This has only risen five percentage points since the run-up to GDPR, showing that the regulation has not boosted understanding of how and why organisations use data.

Chris Daly, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, said although GDPR was the most important change in data privacy regulation in 20 years, the research raises serious questions about its effect on consumer confidence.

“Data provides marketers with vital consumer insights. Its exchange also benefits consumers, who receive more relevant, even personalised, information, but while advantages may be clear, trust in business to deliver, is not,” he said.

“GDPR has done well in empowering consumers to ask the right questions about their data use. The opportunity still remains for marketers to answer these, and to prove the benefit of data collection,” said Daly.

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