Corporate Eye

Consumer Perceptions of Online Privacy Practices Affect 9 out of 10 Brand Purchase Decisions

online purchaseJust how important is it for brands to ensure consumers have positive perceptions of a company’s efforts to keep their private data secure? For 91% of internet users in the United Kingdom, online privacy policies directly affect their decisions to do business with a company. That statistic comes from a study by Accenture from August of 2012, and it tells just a small part of the story.

On Monday, eMarketer reported that 46% of respondents to a 2013 survey by Ipsos MORI and TRUSTe said that they “strongly avoided” doing business with companies that they thought didn’t do a good enough job of protecting their privacy and personal information online. Add an additional 45% who “had a tendency to avoid” doing business with these companies, and you end up with a meager 9% of the sample U.K. internet user audience who claim that online privacy concerns do not affect their online purchasing decisions or behaviors.

This data reinforces the idea that marketers must prioritize building brand trust with consumers. As I wrote in one of my articles for Corporate Eye last week, building brand trust is the number one factor that can motivate consumers to share personal information with your company, which can then be used in future brand marketing campaigns. This finding comes from the 2012 Data Tracking Study from DMA (follow the preceding link to read the details and see the infographic), which reported that consumers are more willing to share private information when they trust the company (47%), the company has a clear privacy policy (43%), or the company provides an essential service (31%).

Bottom-line, now is the time to revamp your online privacy policy and consumer-facing communications related to your company privacy practices. Don’t assume that consumers know your brand, and therefore, trust your company to protect their private information. They expect companies to protect their information, but they don’t typically perceive that companies do enough to keep their personal information safe.

The Ipsos MORI and TRUSTe study found that nearly half of internet users in Great Britain do not trust most companies with their personal information online. When asked if “most companies can be trusted with personal data online,” internet users responded as follows:

  • Strongly agree = 6%
  • Tend to agree = 51%
  • Tend to disagree = 33%
  • Strongly disagree = 10%

These numbers are quite terrible from a brand perspective considering that one of the most important aspects of brand building is developing brand trust. Brand marketers need to aggressively work to change the consumer perception that company online privacy practices are not adequate. This requires both education and proof. In other words, companies need to live up to the privacy expectations that consumers have.

Can your company prove that its online privacy practices sufficiently protect consumers’ personal information?

Image: Pierre Amerlynck

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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+.