Retail Customers Worry About Data Privacy

A new Deloitte survey finds that nearly half of consumers think they’ve lost control of their data.

October 11, 2019

NEW YORK—Today, more than ever, consumers are at a greater risk for a data breach. In fact, 1 in 3 Americans has been exposed to a data compromise, according to a new Deloitte survey. The “U.S. Consumer Data Privacy” study found that nearly half of U.S. consumers (47%) feel they have little to no control of their personal data. The vast majority (86%) of consumers believe they should be able to opt-out of the sale of their data.

The bottom line for businesses is that consumers are willing to share their personal information in return for benefits to them, but retailers should walk a fine line not to betray consumers’ trust. Nearly 71% of those surveyed said they are willing to share personal data if they receive better pricing, special discounts or exclusive offers. Consumers who are satisfied with privacy policies are more likely to be open or neutral about sharing personal data (73%), compared to those who are unsatisfied or unaware (57%).

“While some retailers have moved the bar on data privacy, there is still a lot of work to do. The retail industry should advocate for a consumer privacy standard putting consumer centricity at the core and trust as the guide. Transparency with consumers about what you collect and how you use it can go a long way in developing trust,” said Rod Sides, vice chairman and U.S. leader for retail, wholesale and distribution at Deloitte Consulting.

Consumer privacy is at an inflection point in retail, with significant business, financial, and regulatory reasons for retailers to act now. Not only are consumers becoming increasingly aware of threats to their privacy, nearly half of U.S. states have introduced or enacted new privacy legislation, impacting 54% of the population. In California alone, the California Consumer Privacy Act introduces some of the most stringent regulations and the cost of noncompliance is too high to ignore.

The survey found that 75% of retailers believe regulations will have a moderate to significant impact on their business. However, only 22% have optimally integrated their data privacy plan with corporate and business unit strategy planning. This misalignment could be a significant opportunity for retailers, considering 62% of these retail-centered companies have more than 50 information systems (e.g., spreadsheets, customer relationship management systems, email, point-of-sale) holding consumer data in their organization, which increases the vulnerability of their data.

“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,” Sides said.