New research from mePrism, a start-up focused on helping consumers take control over their data, paints a picture of an American population aware that its personal data is being sold for profit but confused about what is being sold and for how much.

This lack of understanding, combined with upcoming personal data regulation such as the CCPA and CPRA, presents a perfect storm for brand trust—brands unable to deliver against consumer demands for transparency are missing out on an emerging loyalty channel as consumers increasingly demand transparency.

Findings from mePrism’s September 2021 survey concluded that 66% of Americans felt confident that they know the kinds of data being collected about them, yet 81% were unaware that facial coordinates are harvested. More than two thirds (68%) did not understand that information about family members—data inherently stored by platforms and social networks—are collected from their profiles.

“Consumers continue to be subjected to an awful lack of transparency with respect to their data. Now people are becoming more confident about what they think they know even though it's incorrect. This is a huge problem," explained Thomas Daly, CEO and Founder of mePrism. “Perhaps the more interesting piece is that consumers are still significantly underestimating the extent and number of transactions using their data. Our own empirical data suggests the average user’s data is valued at $7,500 or more as their data is bought and sold approximately 2,200 times.”

The research further demonstrates that brands and marketers are missing out on an emerging, incremental engagement and loyalty channel. Confirming an emerging demand for transparency, mePrism’s findings show that nearly nine in 10 (88%) respondents want to be notified when their data is bought and sold, and almost three quarters (72%) said they would be more likely to sell their data to businesses that stopped buying it indirectly.

By becoming more transparent about data transactions, brands and marketers could build a truly two way engagement: 79% would reward transparency by adopting a product or service from a company that bought data from them directly and 58% think that companies buy and sell their data simply because they don’t think the consumer will find out. Furthermore, 86% of respondents want companies to buy their data directly from them, a trend set to increase as consumer awareness grows.

“Consumers are beginning to understand the value of their data and have an appetite for agency and transparency in their transactions,” Daly continued. “Moreover, they are hungry to deepen relationships with brands able to operate transparently, expressing interest in building true symbiotic relationships with brands by both buying from and selling to these businesses. This represents a huge opportunity for businesses to build greater loyalty and lasting, trusted relationships with their target audiences.”

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