How important is data privacy for online consumers in the UK? To find out, Capterra surveyed online shoppers to gauge their sentiments regarding the privacy and protection of their personal data. Read along to learn more about our findings in this first part of a two-part series.

Data privacy deals with protecting personal data and complying with data protection regulations

Data privacy may have been a concern among consumers over the years. As online shopping in the United Kingdom continues to grow —currently valued at £ 119.6 billion — customer expectations regarding how brands treat their personal data may also be changing. Rapid advancements in data collection techniques coupled with the uncertainties brought by the pandemic may have possibly altered how online shoppers feel about the usage of their personal data by businesses and compliance with regulations.

To learn more about the expectations of online shoppers, we conducted a study in July 2022 based on the responses collected from 1,023 respondents above the age of 18 in the UK. For the full methodology, scroll to the bottom of this article.

Most consumers willing to share personal identification data

Data may have become a backbone for companies nowadays. They possibly use the data collected from consumers for deriving insights, sending personalised communications, and sometimes even selling such data outside their organisation. This may have caused inhibitions among consumers with regards to data sharing and what type of information they are comfortable sharing.

According to the survey, the majority (76%) of the respondents are either somewhat (61%) or very willing (15%) to share their personal identification data — for instance, name, date of birth etc. — with the online company they’re doing business with for the first time.

When asked to choose from the following responses: “Somewhat willing to share, very willing to share, and not willing to share”, a combined total of 73% respondents were willing to share contact information, 87% of respondents would share sentiments regarding the product —which includes reviews and product ratings, 88% would share demographic information, and health information inclusive of details like heart rate and the number of steps walked stood at 64%.

Majority of respondents are willing to share their personal identification information with companies

It is also worth noting that there are still inhibitions among some survey-takers regarding sharing their financial information. While a combined total of 55% of them are either somewhat (46%) or very willing (9%) to share it, 45% of the respondents are not willing to share such data at all. Moreover, gender stands out as the type of information 95% of the respondents are either somewhat or very willing to share with companies.

70% of respondents happy to share data for better services

Data sharing may not always equate to a data breach. Sometimes, it can also translate into a better experience for the consumer. What are the expectations of British consumers in exchange for the personal information shared with the companies?

When asked to rate their level of agreement with the statement “I am happy to share personal information if it means better, more efficient products or services”, as many as 70% of the respondents —the sum of people who somewhat (61%) and strongly agree (9%)— are happy to share their personal information.

Majority of survey-takers are happy sharing their personal data for better services

Companies have been using personal data to customise the user experience, and a combined total of 65% of the survey respondents are happy sharing their personal information if it is used to personalise products or services offered to them. Additionally, a combined total of 72% of the respondents either somewhat (58%) or strongly (14%) trust companies with their personal data and feel that companies are using it responsibly.

In contrast, when we asked our survey-takers if they would prefer to see more ads than to share their personal data, a combined total of 66% prefer to watch more ads. Moreover, 55% of respondents are —the sum of people who either somewhat (44%) or strongly (11%) agree— willing to pay for services if it means that they don’t have to share their personal data with the companies.

Majority would use customer reviews to test a company’s data privacy reputation

Non-compliance with data protection regulations can lead to reputational damage to businesses. As such, it may be important for them to keep a check on how they handle and secure consumer data. Having a good data privacy reputation may be vital not just for businesses but for consumers, too.

Majority of the respondents read customer reviews to gauge a company’s reputation

The majority (62%) —a combined total of survey-takes who answered either “yes, always” or “yes, sometimes”— of surveyed consumers in the UK check a company’s data privacy reputation before making an online purchase, while 38% don’t. Of those who do, customer reviews (67%) top the charts as being the most chosen way to research a company’s data privacy reputation. This is followed by choosing to review a company’s policies (39%), checking the past records of a data breach (35%), and reading discussions regarding the brand on social sites (31%), among others.

Are data privacy practices important to online shoppers?

UK consumers consider a company’s data privacy practices as an important factor when deciding if they want to do business with them. Having said that, disagreement with the data privacy practices of a company does not correlate to loss of business.

While a combined total of 69% of the respondents —the sum of those who answered ‘yes, sometimes’ and ‘yes, often’— take data privacy practices into consideration while determining whether or not they want to do business with them, 59% of the respondents would not stop doing business with a company because they disapproved of their data practices. Having said that, most of the respondents (70%) feel the same about the data privacy practices of online companies compared to a year ago.

How can compliance software help SMEs with data protection?

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may measure, monitor, and audit business operations with the use of compliance management software. Such tools can help to make sure they adhere to relevant legal requirements, company rules, and customer and business partner standards.

Some compliance software potentially offer an overview of data privacy operations and the related risks to compliance teams, data protection officers (DPO), HR departments, and IT teams. This can help SMEs keep track of how well a company complies with the regulations laid out by the government.

Respondents more concerned with data usage than protection

From tracking calories burned in a day to which gadget you have searched for on the internet last, companies are possibly collecting all such data. Many of them may argue that in return for your data, they are offering you free services. But which part of data collection concerns consumers the most? Is it the type of the information that is being tracked or the use of that personal data by the companies?

Use of customer data is one of the biggest data privacy concerns among respondents

Respondents feel that use of their data should be regulated

The UK government has laid out certain regulations on the use of personal data by organisations —we will learn more about this in the second part of this survey. Although there are guidelines in place, some survey-takers still feel that certain areas of data collection need to be regulated more than others.

As many as 77% of the respondents feel the need to have regulations regarding the use of their personal data by companies as one the most popular answers. This is followed by the desire to have regulations around how companies protect their data (70%), and whether companies may sell their data (68%), among other options.

63% feel that their personal data is secure with companies

How well do consumers trust companies with their data? When asked to indicate their level of agreement with the statement “I am confident that my personal information is secure when I provide it to an online company.”, a combined total of 63% respondents were either somewhat (57%) or strongly (6%) confident that their personal information was secure when they provided it to an online company.

How a company uses customer data says a lot about them

When we asked consumers how they feel about the treatment of their data by companies, a combined total of 91% of the respondents either somewhat (58%) or strongly (33%) agree that the way a company treats their data reflects how they treat them as a customer.

Study highlights

In this article, we looked at how consumers feel about the use of their personal data by companies. The study also highlighted some of the major concerns among our respondents with respect to their personal information, along with their sentiments regarding a company’s data privacy practices. Below, we list some of the key findings from our surveyed consumers:

  1. A combined total of 76% of the respondents are willing to share their personal identification data with companies. 
  2. 70% of the shoppers surveyed —sum of those who somewhat or strongly agreed— are willing to share their personal information with a company or brand if it means getting better and more efficient products or services in return. 
  3. A combined total of 62% of surveyed consumers in the UK check a company’s data privacy reputation before making an online purchase, while 38% don’t.
  4. 44% of the respondents have expressed concerns over how companies use the data they collect about them.
  5. A combined total of 63% of the respondents are confident that their personal information is secure when they provide it to an online company.
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Capterra’s privacy-focused consumers survey was launched online between July 5th – July 15th 2022. It was undertaken by 1,023 participants from different parts of the UK. For the purpose of this article, we have focused on the consumer group of our two-part survey. The criteria for selecting the participants is as follows:

  • Resident of the United Kingdom
  • Above 18 years of age
  • Shops online at least once per month