Consumers more cautious about online security: KPMG
Around 55% of consumers around the world say they have decided against buying something online due to privacy concerns.
This is according to a new report by KPMG International titled 'Creepy or cool? Staying on the right side of the consumer line', which revealed consumers are increasingly taking matters into their own hands regarding online security, with half of survey respondents saying they delete their Internet browser cookies or manage their social media privacy settings.
The study details the privacy preferences of 6 900 consumers who responded to a survey conducted in 24 countries between 14 April and 5 May, 2016. Among the countries surveyed were UK, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, China, Malaysia, India and more.
The study notes respondents in most countries say control over privacy is more important than convenience, with less than 20% of them saying they were happy to disclose information on their online search history, income, location, address or medical records.
Furthermore, almost one-third said they use incognito or 'do not track' modes, while a quarter use encryption. Around 82% of respondents are not comfortable with the sale of their data to third-parties in exchange for the speed, convenience, product range, home delivery and price comparison that online shopping offers.
KPMG says the digital economy has allowed organisations to collect more information about their customers than ever before. But while consumers understand their data is being collected and the organisations they deal with on a daily basis are potentially using it in a number of unknown ways, indiscriminate personal data collection risks alienating consumers and 'creeping them out', adds the company.
The study further found less than 10% of consumers feel that they have control over the way organisations handle and use their personal data today, with respondents in most countries saying that privacy control is more important than the potential convenience gained from sharing personal data.
"An executive would be at risk of being fired if half their customer base disappeared after they made a crucial business decision," said Nathan Desfontaines, KPMG's cyber security manager in SA.
"Failure to imbed privacy into the DNA of their business strategy could ultimately lead to the extinction of a business given how closely consumers and regulators alike are paying attention to how organisations collect, store and use personal data."
While concerns around the "creepy line" vary, the overall top three concerns about the way organisations are handling and using their personal information were: unwanted marketing; personal information being sold on to third-parties and lack of secure systems, says the study.
It further pointed out that strong cyber security systems are the most effective thing an organisation can do for customers to trust them with their personal data.
Over half of survey respondents said they were willing to share their gender, education or ethnicity online, while a considerably lower proportion were happy to share more sensitive information, such as location (16%), address (14%) or medical records (13%).
For companies seeking to use personal data to personalise their marketing and services to the individual, build brand loyalty and develop better products, it is important that they understand that consumers value privacy over convenience, warns Desfontaines.
"Understanding the value exchange between access to personal information and trust has never been more important than it is today. I truly believed that everyone would take a free TV no matter what. But clearly transparency is the strongest currency for any business," he explains.
* Over two-thirds of respondents said they were not comfortable with smartphone and tablet apps using their personal data.
* 57% of people fail to read, or only skim, privacy policies on entering Web sites.
* Unwanted marketing (59%) was cited as consumers' top concern about businesses using their personal data, followed by their data being sold to third-parties (58%) and organisations having unsecure systems (55%).