Marketers Can ‘Blame’ GDPR for Increased Consumer Trust

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Synopsis: Laura Aldridge – Director, Consumer & Market Intelligence Solutions at RAPP discusses last month’s GDPR implementation. She examines how these changes are a chance for brands/marketers “to shine” with their audiences and work to build long-term relationships with those audiences and customers, using examples from brands already taking steps to build those closer relationships with their audiences.

 

Whew. That wasn’t so bad, was it?

For many marketers, the European Union’s overzealous General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, appears to be yet another regulation that makes marketing harder. After all, it limits how and when marketers can use and process data, applies more stringent consent requirements, and introduces tougher enforcement for companies not meeting the new standard. For U.S.-based companies used to less comprehensive regulations, this is new territory.

Though the regulation itself might be “new territory,” the problem it addresses hardly is:
More than half of consumers believe brands should be transparent about how they use
consumer data, yet 77 percent of people still feel in the dark, according to RAPP’s U.S.
Privacy and Permissions Study of 2016. The GDPR regulation effectively achieves two
important things: It brings data protection law up-to-date with current technology and data
processing trends and techniques; and it formalizes data protection law across the EU, which is seen as a necessary step to protecting consumer privacy.

Beyond compliance, though, what’s really at stake here is salvaging the consumer-brand
relationship. GDPR became reality on May 25, but it’ll take a while for everyone to get on
board. This period right after implementation is instrumental for marketers to bolster trust in their brands. It’s a great opportunity to show consumers that you understand the data-
protection worries they harbor and your compliance with GDPR is meant to alleviate those
fears.

How Proactive Action Fosters Consumer Trust

Instead of getting caught up in the challenges the GDPR presents, brands should take this
opportunity to reinvest in consumers. And marketers who proactively address data protection can engage with their audiences on a deeper level, providing concrete evidence that they care about the privacy and needs of their target(s).

A perfect example of proactive action can be seen with the automotive industry’s adoption of the Privacy Principles for Vehicle Technologies and Services.

These principles, which were in effect for models since 2017 and subscription services since
2016, are simple. They require that manufacturers tell consumers about their privacy policies and how law enforcement can circumvent them, as well as institute consent regulations for marketing and data sharing. Essentially, by making the value of exchange tangible, the automotive industry helps consumers stay in control of their information (73 percent of people always want to be in control, according to our research) and foregrounds three tenets that all brands should focus on:

  • Foster transparency. Consumers must be frequently informed about privacy policy
    changes in an understandable and accessible way (through bulleted lists or brief summaries instead of dense paragraphs, for example).
  • Advocate consumer consent and preferences. Consumers should be able to decide how and when their sensitive data is being used.
  • Change industry norms. Industry leaders should advocate for consumer rights and protections without being forced to. As of summer 2017, for example, Apple no longer accepts VPN/root certificate-based ad blockers on the App Store, part of the huge shift it’s cultivating for its customers’ web-browsing experience.

Brands that don’t address these issues now will be left behind. Here are three ways GDPR
compliance can help brands shine:

  1. Inform and educate consumers: The GDPR was designed to give consumers more
    control, but many consumers still have no idea what this regulation is, why it was
    implemented, or how it will affect their lives moving forward. Brand3s that step in as an
    information center and drive the conversation can reveal the benefits of these changes while simultaneously fostering brand-consumer trust. Don’t get caught up in technical or legislative jargon, though. Cultivating a relationship means addressing consumers in their own language. And don’t hesitate to reveal your own ignorance, as this remains a learning process for all.
  2. Communicate problems: Data breaches are, unfortunately, becoming ever more common. So if the worst happens, take ownership of it. Getting out in front of the problem before the 72-hour window and addressing consumer concerns by implementing preventive security steps preserves the transparency so vital to consumers.
  3. Celebrate data: Marketers know the value of data analytics, but many consumers don’t
    understand how their information is used. If marketers want consumers to allow them access to data, they need to make clear the value exchange of that data and how, in the end, it’s actually meaningful to them.

So we’ve reached the point of no return. GDPR is here to stay, and brands have one of two
choices: They can either get proactive about this change by leading the way and embracing
this consumer-centric corporate culture; or they can sit back, wait, and spend a significant
amount of time and resources playing catch-up, damaging consumer-brand relationships in
the interim.

Is the latter really even an option?

Part of a specialized team serving RAPP U.S. by building customer and market intelligence
solutions that are horizontal and scalable, Laura Aldridge is an experienced, global CRM
specialist with expertise in entertainment, automotive, finance, and media. Uncovering and
using data, she builds new approaches and methodologies to drive business intelligence
solutions that can be scaled across clients while staying true to her passion about using data for the benefit of the customer.

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