Man holding cell phone loyaltyDespite a series of recent, high-profile data breaches and customer concerns over data collection, shoppers remain open to sharing their personal information in exchange for loyalty rewards, according to a new survey from Aimia.

According to the Aimia Loyalty Lens report, when asked to rank types of businesses by the degree to which they are comfortable with businesses handling an individual’s personal data, an overwhelming majority of consumers (82%) placed banks in the top four (out of 10), along with supermarkets (64%), mobile phone providers (56%) and their places of work (50%).

On the flip side, 65% of consumers place online search engines in the bottom two of institutions they trust and 58% of consumers place social networks in the bottom two, the report says.

Despite the perception that some industries are doing a better job at protecting data than others, more than half of shoppers internationally (55%) are willing to share personal information with companies in exchange for relevant rewards. That willingness is uneven across international markets. Close to three-quarters (74%) of respondents from India are open to providing their personal details, compared to only one-third of more skeptical Germans (39%).

“Consumers are increasingly required to trust companies to handle their personal details,” David Johnston, Group Chief Operating Officer, Aimia Inc., said in a release. “Transparency about how data is being collected and used will become a key differentiator for businesses going forward. Those that are clear and offer a better customer experience by how they use that information will build greater trust and loyalty.”

But the report says there is a fine line between providing a customized experience the creepiness factor.

In France, 47% say they’re not comfortable when supermarket cashiers address them by name, while in the Middle East 46% see it as perfectly fine. Meanwhile, 66% of Canadians are put off by supermarkets that send coupons to their mobile phones, while 52% of residents in India are quite comfortable with it. The same applies when supermarkets follow up by phone or email after making a purchase. More than half (57%) of Americans see the follow-up gesture as going too far, compared to only one in three (34%) in the Middle East.

Similar variances occur when it comes to the travel and leisure sector. While over half of consumers in Australia (56%) are comfortable being called by their names by airlines, only 33% of Italians are comfortable with the gesture. When it comes to follow-up calls and emails once a purchase has been made, 39%of consumers internationally appreciate the gesture by airlines, but in the U.K., 38% are uncomfortable with the practice.

“With today’s technological advances, companies have the ability to truly understand consumers — from what we like to eat, to where we like to shop, to even our names,” Johnston added. “But it’s important for businesses to know when and where it’s appropriate to use this information to engage consumers, and that it varies significantly by industry and nationality. The companies that win will be the ones that listen to their consumers’ preferences and use data accordingly to build mutually beneficial relationships.”

Here are some other takeaways from the survey:

The No. 1 driver behind loyalty to supermarkets is being rewarded for that loyalty (22%) with price coming in second at 17%. In contrast, the top driver at banks is longevity of service, with rewards coming only in fifth place.

Not all rewards are created equal. For many institutions — including supermarkets (36%) and banks (50%) — getting cash back is king. But for airlines, 69% prefer either loyalty currency or exclusive discounts and for hotels it's 57 per cent.

New forms of information are now becoming as sacred as or more sacred than personal data that have traditionally been kept private. When it comes to the information consumers protect the most, web history and income top the list at 39% and 30%, respectively, stating they would never share such information. That’s compared with 29% who would never share their mobile phone number and 23% who would never reveal their online purchases.

Additional findings can be found here.

The study surveyed 24,335 respondents in 10 international markets: United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, United States, Australia, India, and the Middle East.

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