“Why should I give my most intimate secrets to a stranger? I would never do that!”
I still hear my mom’s words ringing in my head. Let’s admit it: traditional market research can be perceived as intrusive, and new passive metering technologies run an even higher risk of being perceived as such.
Our mission as an industry has always been to understand and predict consumer behavior. Data and information collection are the means to an end: the more information we collect, the closer we will be to the insights we pursue. And the better we can inform decisions that are taken based on the work we do.
Innovative technologies have created new opportunities and tools that help researchers break new ground and uncover behavior, motivations and intentions more deeply and in new areas. Internet has given brands and governments real time access in the digital footprint of human behavior. Massive amounts of data can serve the public interest as well as those of corporations trying to grow by providing better products and services. At the same time large datasets can be challenging to preserve one of the core values of our industry: confidentiality.
To preserve the sustainability of market research, the industry we operate in needs to re-evaluate in a conscious way how to retain the trust of the consumers whose behavior it studies. The collection of data should be governed by consumer consent and proper controls, delivered in full transparency and accompanied by simple and straightforward communication. If not, there is a risk to lose the trust. If the public feels uncomfortable with the collection of their data, how long will it take before they think twice about providing their most sensitive details to market researchers?
I believe that this situation can be properly addressed by being honest and transparent, and ensuring that our research will benefit the public. But also from a technological perspective: we have to empower market research participants by enhancing the control that they have over their data. They are the owners, so they should determine how their data will be used.
In the coming posts, I will describe how to build a privacy programme that ensures the best user experience.
“You have been actually doing this for years. You have had a weekly session with the lovely and trustable Dr. Julie” was my answer to my mom. So, as medicine professionals have done for centuries, let’s increase consumers trust in us, by raising our ethical standards.