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Future of Retail Q1 2022

Data is marketers’ most valuable asset

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Tim Bond

Director of Insights, Data & Marketing Association (DMA)

Data, trust and personalised experiences are all vital in building relationships with customers.

Data has always been an intrinsic part of marketing and effective customer engagement, but the increasingly connected digital world we live in has increased its importance immeasurably.

For me, I like the analogy of data as ‘the new soil’. It is something businesses must tend to, cultivate and maintain – if they do this well, the seeds will grow into successful long-term relationships with customers.

Data, trust and relevance

Personalised customer experiences are the most effective. But to create such experiences for customers, businesses must understand the inextricable link between ‘data, trust and relevance’. They must contact customers with the right opportunities, at the right time via the best medium.

Data and trust exist in tandem with one another. Trust encourages data sharing and meaningful data usage builds trust. Customers must know that their data is being used to provide them with an enhanced experience – if it is relevant and rewarding it will build trust and increase sharing opportunities in the future.

Since 2012, we have been tracking consumers attitudes to data sharing and privacy, as part of our ‘Data Privacy: What the Consumer Really Thinks’ research. The latest edition, released this month, marks a decade of significant change for both consumers and industry.

Consumers also still want to feel more control over their data and see more transparency in how it’s used.

Increase in data sharing

Over the 10 years of this study we have seen consumers’ willingness to share data increase. The percentage of consumers who believe the exchange of personal information is essential for the smooth running of modern society has increased from 38% in 2012 to 60% in 2022. However, consumers also still want to feel more control over their data and see more transparency in how it’s used. Both of which are key drivers of trust.

Trust in an organisation remains the most important factor that makes people willing to share their data, even beyond offers of discounts or free services. Trust is clearly a hygiene factor that businesses cannot operate without. Trust appears to be growing according to the latest figures from the ICO’s own ‘Information Rights Strategic Plan: Trust and Confidence’ research – but clearly there remains room for improvement too.

Offering personalised experiences

It’s only with this willingness to share data and trust that marketers can then truly offer the personalised experiences many consumers demand – or even the insight to know which consumers don’t. According to our decade of research, it is this personalisation – if done correctly – that enhances the customer experience and helps to build sustainable relationships with customers.

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