Majority of UAE consumers 'want more control over personal data'

Two-thirds of respondents to Aimia survey want in-depth knowledge of how brands use data
Consumers are seeing the value of their data, and are more willing to share with brands if they understand what they will do with the data.
By Mark Sutton
Wed 30 Nov 2016 10:49 AM

Two-thirds of online shoppers in the UAE would like better control over their personal data, according to a survey by marketing analytics company Aimia.

The global survey, which included consumers in the UAE, showed that consumers understand the value of their data, but want more control over what brands do with it.

One-third of UAE consumers (31 percent) rated their data as 'highly valuable' - lower than the global average of 41 percent - and contact information was identified as the most valuable piece of data. UAE consumers on average put a value of Dhs50 on online data and purchase history; AED80 ($21.7) for contact information; and AED70 ($19) for personal information such as name or date of birth.

Consumers are more willing to share personal data when they understand how it will be used, the survey showed.

Thirty-two percent of respondents would share web history without context, but this rose to 51 percent when context was known and an example given. Similarly, 64 percent would share online purchase history, 57 percent would share income level, and 64 percent would share lifestyle information when given a context.

"Today's consumers are digitally savvy," said Paul Lacey, managing director of Aimia Middle East. "They know their data is valuable to brands and when they share it they expect an improved service or benefit in return. It's encouraging to see brands are recognising this and we need to continue to offer tangible benefits to customers for sharing their data."

While the majority of UAE shoppers - 81 percent for those who shop online, and 64 percent for those who shop in-store - said they believed their preferred brands are good at using their data to make shopping better, they also want to have more control over how it is used. Nearly two thirds (63 percent) of consumers in the UAE said they would like to exercise greater control over what data companies hold about them. Fifty-three percent of UAE consumers have taken steps to limit brands from tracking and advertising to them online.

At the same time, new apps and technologies that give consumers control of their data, such as Professor Tim Berners-Lee's project, Solid, and Citizenme's app, are entering the market. This, paired with consumers' growing understanding of the value of their data, could give rise to a new type of behaviour, where savvy consumers start to protect their data and share it for a cost, the survey showed.

"By being transparent and by giving personalized and tailored benefits, brands can prove to consumers the data exchange is beneficial," Lacey added. "Those that don't run the risk of losing access to customers' data altogether or potentially having to pay them for the privilege."

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