India: Consumers learn the power of data

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By: RickFerguson |

Posted on November 7, 2017

india consumer dataAround the world, consumers are swiftly learning how much their personal information is worth to marketers. When consumers begin to understand that their personal information has value, two things usually happen: First, Consumers begin to expect reward and recognition in exchange for granting marketers access to their data; Second, legislators begin to scrutinize existing data privacy regulations and, if necessary, enact stricter controls on data privacy and security. A new SAP survey of Indian consumers reveals that they have come to understand the value of their data. Will Indian regulators in turn take a closer look at the existing data protection laws? Stay tuned.

By Rick Ferguson

Consumer surveys are usually a leading indicator of tightening data controls; witness the years of surveys underscoring the power of consumer data in Europe that led to the adoption of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). The outlier is the United States, where consumer awareness of data value is at an all-time high, but a deregulated environment leaves consumer data as a commodity bought and sold for the most part with no consumer awareness.

The SAP Hybris Consumer Insights Report, a broad-scale survey of 7,000 consumers across Asia Pacific that also includes Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, South Korea and China, offers a 1,000-strong sample of Indian consumers revealing a strong awareness of the power of their personal information. This growing awareness is of a pace with the rest of the Asia-Pac. Money quote from the survey:

“Consumers across all countries confirm what we already know: customers are empowered in the digital economy. As a result, they expect brands to provide responsive, personalized customer service, while also expecting them to respect the personal data that’s shared. It’s now up to brands to build a trusting relationship with consumers. No matter how or when they engage with customers, they need to show they understand what customers want. Each touch point should use data to provide a personal approach to customer service. Brands who fail to meet the ever-growing expectations of consumers do so at their own peril.”

Of all seven countries surveyed, Indian consumers are the most open to sharing data. A sampling of the survey results:

92% of Indian respondents were willing to share some information with brands, including:

  • Email address: 68%
  • Shopping history and preferences: 56%
  • Financial details: 55%
  • Mobile number: 52%
  • Social media access: 34%

In exchange for personal data, Indian consumers expect:

  • Receiving rewards: 50%
  • Personalized customer service: 48%
  • Value-added services: 44%
  • Relevant product information: 37%
  • Personalized offers: 33%

And…74% of Indian consumers would break up with a brand that misused personal data.

With Indian consumers now more fully aware of the power of their personal data—and prepared to strike with great vengeance and furious anger those brands that misuse their data—the question begs: Have Indian data protection regulations kept apace with the growing value of that data? The strongest legal protection for personal information in India is through the Information Technology Act and the Information Technology Rules enacted in 2011. The rules provide for potential civil or criminal liability for entities that fail good-faith tests for disclosure, transparency, and security in the possession of personal information.

More recently, The Planning Commission of the Government of India in 2012 recommended a set of data privacy principles similar to those espoused in GDPR, but which thus far lack the power of law. The most current privacy legislation draft is still under proposal as of 2017, but if it became law it would recognize the right to privacy as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, establish a Data Protection Authority, and establish an alternative dispute mechanism for addressing disputes between data controllers and individuals.

As consumers go, legislators follow—and India itself might be on the cusp of a GDPR-like transformation of the consumer data landscape. As always, we advocate a proactive approach to data privacy: Treat your customers’ data as the precious personal possession that it is; use the data responsibly, with consumer benefit in mind; and provide your customers the power to control your access to that data. Follow these guidelines, and you’ll always remain one step ahead of the regulators.

Rick Ferguson is Editor in Chief of the Wise Marketer Group and is a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional (CLMP).