Consumers expect more from brands in today's world. Influencers and endorsements now have less authority after saturating the market for a good while as the industry moves back to 'trust marketing'; customers want to develop a relationship with a brand again. Consumer understanding of data security and privacy rights has grown in accordance with this change, and study participants are keen to ensure that they know what their data is used for, and how.
What's behind this change in how people interact with goods and brands, and how do we inspire confidence in our research participants in the market research industry?
The Shift in Brand Engagement
The implementation of GDPR in Europe has seen a paradigm change in the general public 's understanding of their personal data rights. Although the ground rules for the handling and processing of data had previously been provided by the UK Data Protection Act 1998, the GDPR came with more stringent criteria, harsher penalties for non-compliance, and legal criteria for things such as data sharing opt-ins and the need for explicitly clear transparency statements.
Under the GDPR, organizations now have to be transparent and explicit about the intent of collecting data, with whom the data will be exchanged, how long the data will be kept, and what the participant's opt-out privileges are. Because the Data Protection Act did not insist on as much accountability, there was no obligation under the DPA for a business to reveal or delete all data kept on an individual if requested; there was no obligation to designate a dedicated Data Protection Officer (DPO) within a business; nor was there as much expectation of affirmation action in terms of obtaining and retaining par
American states are also starting to introduce their own GDPR equivalents: January this year saw the implementation of the CCPA, an act that guarantees data security for citizens of California. In order to provide data guarantees that individuals now correctly anticipate, other states are likely to follow suit.
Promoting Consumer Trust with Data Security
Individuals want to recognize that they are respected by a brand; part of this importance must include respect for the decisions of the individual about who has their data. Compliance with the GDPR is a legal necessity for a company, so websites have to provide privacy warnings that explain what information is collected and, for example, why. Nevertheless, establishing a base of confidence needs to go deeper than just ticking legal boxes; we need to show participants as a market research firm that we have policies and processes ingrained in the heart of our operations. It is extremely important to demonstrate dedication to the preservation of high information security standards when it comes to attracting consumers, but it is also vital to demonstrate assurance to research participants that their data is in safe hands.
Promoting Consumer Trust with Other Measures
In building and sustaining customer trust, data protection, accountability and governance play an enormous role, but other factors are just as significant. Researchers have many opportunities in the field of MR to foster customer trust. As stated, organizations now have to reveal to participants what data is being used and why; researchers should actively offer input to research participants in line with this open approach to data usage, what conclusions are being derived from the data they provided, cultivating a sense of meaning and purpose in the participant.
This can be invaluable in promoting continued membership for MR businesses that create membership networks for brand engagement and input. By feeding back what actions are being taken on the back of the observations and data generated, stakeholders and customers can also play a key role. This may be in the form of a new product or service; a business strategy update; or a new trajectory of business.
The fundamental mechanics of customer confidence are openness and inclusion. The increasing understanding of the rights of data subjects has contributed to increased transparency about study participation, and research participants are now more informed about the guarantees they need before sharing information. The key to building trust in market research is working toward high standards of information security and building inclusive research communities.