Consumers Trade Privacy for Enhanced Experience
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19 December 2012Michael Fitzgerald
There are some very interesting results in the recent Accenture survey: “Accenture Interactive Survey: Shoppers Prefer Personalization Over Privacy” (infographic here: http://www.accenture.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/PDF/Accenture-Shopper-Holiday-Preference-US.pdf) The online survey asked 2,000 UK and US consumers about their preferences across various shopping channels and their use of social media networks as they research and purchase products. (Note: The fact that the results were collected via an online survey introduces a bias towards using technology, but not one that invalidates the results.) Two statistics stand out: 3 out of 4 shoppers prefer retailers that use personal information to create offers that are individual and 61% declare that they will swap privacy for a personalized buying experience. So, what does research into product retailers have to do with insurance? I argue that we have seen this movie before, during the .com boom in the late 90’s. As online retailing began, consumers developed different expectations about how they interacted with companies they did business with. For example, they expected to be able to pay for products and services through ACH or by credit card. But when it came to insurance, do you remember that there once was a debate about consumers’ willingness to pay premiums on line? Retailers had offered the function for years, but insurers lagged in adoption. I remember one argument from those in favor of the status quo: “But people want to write a check and send it to their insurance agent.”! We see where that argument went. The point is that consumers are increasingly trading privacy for a personalized shopping experience. Insurers who are investing in the development of skills to collect, analyze and operationalize social data will be positioned favorably compared to their competitors. These insurers will be able to respond to consumers as they expect their insurance purchase to be as easy as their other buying experiences.