Q&A: Fatemeh Khatibloo, senior analyst at Forrester Research

Forrester Research senior analyst Fatemeh Khatibloo discusses the company’s Jan. 18 data privacy survey and why an increasing number of Americans are abandoning digital transactions.

Direct Marketing News (DMN): According to the survey’s results, 71% of consumers are concerned about brands’ access to identity data but only 38% are concerned about access to behavioral data. Why are consumers making a distinction?

Fatemeh Khatibloo (Forrester): My hypothesis is that people really understand the difference between these types of data. Identity theft and the repercussions of identity theft make it natural that people would be concerned, whereas the general understanding of behavioral data feels relatively nascent. It’s interesting that people do make that distinction. It says that brands and marketers need to start thinking about the data differently as well.

DMN: Older Americas are less concerned than young people about access to their behavioral data. Why does this make sense? Shouldn’t it be reversed?

Khatibloo: The crux is that older Americans tend to be less engaged and less publicly engaged socially. They just don’t share as much so naturally their concern is a bit lower. They probably hold things closer to the chest than younger Americans and they definitely share less socially.

DMN: More than half of Americans ages 18 to 34 are willing to share personal data with brands in exchange for exclusive discounts. Do enough brands take advantage of this?

Khatibloo: Brands and marketers are leveraging this knowledge. My gut though is that they’re not using it in a targeted way. What else do they know about the customer? What can they do to engage consumers in a more relevant way with a targeted offer? There’s still too much broad brush targeting. If consumers are sharing data you’ve got to be able to communicate to them with a targeted message.

DMN: There was a spike in the number of consumers who say they will abandon a digital transaction if they don’t like a company’s privacy policy. How big was the spike and what are brands doing wrong?

Khatibloo: The spike was interesting. It went from 38% of people last year to 44% this year. With people older than 55 the spike went from 40% last year to 51% this year. This is happening because brands are using a lot of legalese and a lot of loopholes and words that people can’t really understand. People don’t want to take the time to read these policies in order to find out if their information is safe. There’s no transparency and there’s a lot that’s convoluted.

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