Customers Scrutinize Data Security

Most consumers want greater transparency around personal data collection.

June 17, 2021

Person shopping on their phone

DENVER—More than half of respondents (54%) report the pandemic has permanently changed how they shop, according to a new survey by Adtaxi. Its “Data, Digital Trends & the Reopening” study examined consumer habits and preferences in two rapidly evolving categories: data privacy and e-commerce.

After the pandemic, 63% of shoppers said they will prioritize shopping at small and local businesses. This follows 74% of respondents who said they planned to shop small and local for the holiday season.

“Despite the steady rise of e-commerce, our data shows that many consumers are eager to support small and local businesses. This isn’t an inherent contradiction—with the right digital strategy and e-commerce capabilities, small businesses have an exciting opportunity to grow and thrive as the economy reopens,” said Chris Loretto, executive vice president of Adtaxi, in a press release. “Getting organized with smart data practices and responsive online offerings is a strong first step for businesses of all sizes.”

The data also shows how significantly the past year’s events have influenced consumer habits. As e-commerce continues to grow, consumers are split when it comes to data collection and privacy. Though 45% of respondents say they generally give permission when apps or websites ask to collect their data, 60% believe that companies are not working hard to protect this personal information, and 72% regard companies’ online data privacy disclosures as purposefully misleading.

“We are all undergoing a period of immense transition, balancing the meteoric rise of digital commerce, communication and entertainment with the realities of data privacy and security. We see this changing landscape, and some of its contradictions, reflected in our study,” Loretto said. “On one hand, there’s an understandable mistrust of data collection and privacy policies—yet a growing number of consumers value individualized content and willingly share information when asked. iOS14’s privacy rules are an important step in bridging this divide and building consumer trust, but it’s also up to each individual business to prioritize transparency and education within its first-party data practices.”

Forty-four percent of all respondents report their online experience is better because apps and websites collect their personal information. Forty-nine percent disagree, and 7% were unaware their data was being collected in the first place. Of the types of data respondents are most comfortable sharing, the top ranked was contact information (44%), followed by sensitive information such as race or religion and location (both 27%), followed by purchase history (17%). The lowest ranked in terms of comfort sharing was user content such as emails, photos and voice recordings (8%).

To see why convenience retailers are prime targets for data attacks and how to protect your business from cyberattacks, read “Under Siege” and “Damage Control” in NACS Magazine.