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Convenience, Discounts Trump Privacy Concerns in Canada

A majority want to be sure their info doesn’t go to third parties

Consumers in Canada, like consumers around the globe, have understandable concerns about the creeping disintegration of privacy, as personal information and behaviors are now more transparent and readily available to companies than ever before. But deeper study shows that consumers are also reflective about this trend, and when put in context, their concerns often play second fiddle to gaining advantages that can help them in concrete ways.

Giving a little to get a little seems to be the way consumers think about providing personal details. In a McCann Truth Central survey conducted in September, seven out of 10 internet users in Canada said they were willing to share personal information with brands if it meant they could get access to discounts and promotions.

While there is a clear monetary advantage to this preference, consumers also showed a reasonably high willingness to share personal information in order to make shopping and buying more convenient. Forty-two percent were willing to provide data if brands used the info to show consumers items they wanted, and 32% would give over information if it reduced hassle by storing personal details.

Willingness to share information ran along a spectrum, however. Consumers were the most guarded about giving up medical and financial data, and most comfortable sharing shopping data. Nearly eight out of 10 internet users in the country said they would provide shopping data, most likely because they saw this information as providing the most direct benefit.

And more than half of consumers in Canada said they would provide location information such as their most frequent locations and check-ins. Mobile has already made strong inroads in the country, and consumers have learned that brands can provide highly targeted offers and information when they know where consumers are and where they like to go.

Still, consumers in Canada aren’t wholly willing to move into a totally transparent digital world. More than one-third told McCann they always looked into a company’s privacy policy. And more than half said that it was critical that companies did not pass information onto third parties. Just under half said they wanted to know how their data was going to be used.

The lessons for brands are clear then: To gain access to data, provide benefits to consumers, and always be clear about how that data will be implemented and shared.

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Check out today’s other articles, “Trends for 2013: 'Big Data' Gets Bigger” and “Viewability Is Key to Clicks.”

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