Corporate Eye

2013 U.S. Consumer Data Privacy Study – Mobile Edition

privateThe 2013 U.S. Consumer Data Privacy Study – Mobile Edition from TRUSTe has been released, and as the mobile ecosystem evolves, brand trust has become even more important to mobile marketing success. Statistics, including those revealed in the TRUSTe study, prove this to be true again and again.

According to this study, 78% of consumers won’t download mobile apps that they don’t trust, and more than twice as many smartphone users conduct at least one research step to determine if they should trust an app before they download it.

When making the decision as to whether or not they should trust a mobile app and download it, respondents to the TRUSTe survey used one or more of the following steps:

  • Check to see if the app has a privacy policy = 40%
  • Research the app online = 39%
  • Read the privacy policy (if provided) = 35%
  • Check to see if the app has a third party trustmark/seal = 29%
  • Ask friends = 26%
  • Trust all apps with no additional research = 16%

Some of the most interesting findings in the report are related to the type of personal information mobile consumers are willing to share and why. The report authors explain:

While 43% of smartphone users still will not share any information about themselves with any company in exchange for a free or lower cost app, there is some positive news with an increase in those that are willing to share at least some information.”

There is also an increase in the numbers willing to share their age, full names and web-surfing behavior. Consumers are more protective of their contacts and photos than their home address, phone number, or current location.

Furthermore, nearly one out of three smartphone users aren’t even aware that they’re activities and behaviors are being tracked on their mobile devices, which is significantly higher than the one in five people who don’t know they’re tracked on desktop computers.

It’s important for brand marketers to understand that while 69% of smartphone users don’t like to be tracked, the majority of them believe that they’re responsible for maintaining their own online privacy (76%).

What can brand marketers learn from all of these statistics?

First, educating consumers about how and when they’re tracked is critical to build brand trust. According to this study, desktop computer users are more accepting of being tracked than mobile consumers, which could be a result of years of exposure to online tracking. In other words, consumers are used to being tracked from their desktop browsers but mobile tracking is much newer to them. It will take time for them to understand and accept it.

Second, it’s absolutely essential that brands create mobile experiences that promote brand trust in consumers’ minds. If you want consumers to download your branded mobile app, you should provide a privacy policy that is easily accessible at the time of download (even if most consumers won’t read it, many will look for it). Full disclosure, transparency, and consistency are the keys to building the level of brand trust needed to succeed in the new mobile ecosystem.

You can access the complete report from TRUSTe using the link at the beginning of this article and get all of the details and statistics from the study.

Image: Neil Gould

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.