Rali Andreeva, an expert in customer behaviour and privacy, leverages over 20 years of experience across retail, FMCG, and banking to demystify data privacy for organizations. Rali debunks data privacy myths in her article below, urging marketers to shape consumer trust by integrating privacy into product design and customer experiences. Read more to explore consumer concerns, the evolving role of marketing teams, and ethical data usage, ultimately fostering trust in the data-driven marketing landscape.

One of my favourite things to do with my son is to go to a maze - we love exploring what is around the corner, bumping into other families and asking for help because we got lost (again), discovering hidden treasures and finding our way out. It is a game of exploring, it is challenging and fun and it is so rewarding when finishing the game.

When it comes to data and privacy, I feel it is like navigating a maze - the Exec team has defined the vision and we know the goals, the Technology team has build the systems - it is like deciding how high the walls of the maze are, the legal team has provided clarity on the turns and dead ends and the governance team has created the frameworks and patterns we need to follow.

It looks like a well defined space, however I can not help but notice that I get lost more often than finding my way around, possibly because there are very few signposts (if any).

Privacy and data is complex and many organisations are focusing on compliance and meeting the legal obligations, while helping consumers and teams navigate this ever changing space is often not a priority.

This is where the Marketing and the Customer experience teams play a critical role -  you understand consumers, you have the skills and the passion to create signposts for a journey that is exciting, rewarding, as simple as possible so consumers want to come back again. This is such a big opportunity!

I would like to share some of the privacy myths marketers still believe, spark curiosity and help marketers to get involved. This is the first step in building trust with consumers in the data driven marketing world.

Myth 1. Consumers do not care about data privacy

The myth is simply false. Many studies have shown that consumers are concerned about how their personal data is collected and used, and these concerns are growing.

According to the “Privacy and Consumer Trust Report” conducted by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (AIPP) in 2023, nearly 68% of consumers throughout the world said they are either somewhat or very concerned about their online privacy. This concern affects how much they trust companies, organisations and governments to collect, hold and use their personal data.

privacy_and_consumer_trust_report_summary.pdf (iapp.org)

Myth 2. Privacy is not relevant for marketing and CX

Marketing has evolved beyond TV, radio advertising or traditional outdoor media to data driven direct marketing campaigns.

Privacy is no longer seen as legal obligations only - the focus has shifted from managing risks and ensuring legal compliance to its relevance to customer experience, with consumer choice and trust at the heart of it. Consumers are becoming more aware of how their data is used and they want more control and transparency over their data.

I strongly believe that marketing and the CX teams are key stakeholders not just in the governance of privacy but play a crucial role in helping consumers navigate this exciting and overwhelming world of data driven experience.

Myth 3. More data means better understanding of consumer behaviour

More data does not necessarily mean you know your consumers better. You should always ask if the data collected and used is appropriate to meet  the business goals and help consumers.

When designing services, you should be asking questions like:

  • What are the consumer's needs?
  • Why collect the data?
  • How will the data be used?
  • What value will consumers get back?
  • How do you build trust with consumers so they can provide their personal information?

There are also risks with using 3rd party data to improve targeting such as lack of consent because many consumers are not aware how their data are collected and used, inaccurate profiling or lack of relevance.

Myth 4. Privacy policies have to be written by the legal team

This is not true. The legal team can help write the policy and cover the legal aspects it needs to protect your business however the privacy policy can be written by the Marketing or the Communication teams. This is where you can make a big difference!

Most consumers don’t have legal degrees and don’t expect to have to think about ‘rights and responsibilities’ or make complex decisions when registering for a new service.

Privacy notices are overly overwhelming, complex documents and most consumers do not bother reading them, and even if they do and have queries, it’s not like they are able to discuss it with anyone or negotiate different terms of using the service.

A sincere, on-brand communication that explains to the consumers how their data will be used is more effective at building trusted relationships than the long and confusing documents.

Myth 5. Privacy is barrier for innovation

It is not necessarily true.

There is no doubt that complying with different legislations adds a layer of complexity and challenge in building new technologies, products and services. However many organisations have started using privacy as a competitive advantage and are driving innovation in this space (e.g. Apple).

Myth 6. The marketing and CX teams have attended the legal training and understand the privacy obligations

This is not necessarily true. Privacy training can be overwhelming, the legislative landscape is complex and often is not clear what you have to do to adjust to it.

You should adapt the privacy training, make it relevant, use games, work on relevant use cases. Remember that the Marketing team engages with the topic differently than the Contact Centre team or the HR team.

Myth 7. If we could collect the data, we could use it!

Organisations invest a lot of resources in collecting more and more data and analysing consumer behaviour. AI is seen to be the solution to solve all business problems and as Deb Lavoy, the founder Narrative Builders said, we are in a race to find out everything we can, and to use it to the greatest extent we can. So where does it stop?

The question to be asked is “Should we?”, not “Could we? ”.

  • “Should we trust an algorithm to make recruitment decisions because we will save cost?”
  • “Should we build AI algorithms based on consumers' profiles and data without giving consumers a choice to opt out?”
  • “Should we link different sources of information without consumers’ permission?”

If the answer to any of the above is no, maybe you should not do what you are planning to do, even if you are legally entitled to do so.

Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about privacy and are holding organisations to a higher standard. We have moral and ethical obligations and data must be collected and used ethically, with consumers best interest. Just because something is legally right, it does not make it morally right each time.

So here it is, 7 myths busted! Don’t fall into these traps!

Busting these myths is a good starting point for the Marketing and the CX teams to get involved and to start changing the conversation from compliance to building consumer trust. I believe that brands that embed privacy into their product design and customer experience will differentiate vs competitors, gain more trust and deliver the personalised experiences their consumers expect. It seems the Maze needs signposts after all.


Rali Andreeva, Customer behaviour and privacy expert

Rali helps organisations demystify data & privacy and improve customer & team experience. With 20+ years' of marketing, loyalty and data & insights experience across retail, FMCG and banking, she brings customer and business perspective to an area often dominated by legal and compliance expertise.

She speaks at events, runs training sessions and facilitates workshops, as well as providing coaching for senior leaders and teams.

Source: Rali Andreeva, 13 May 2024