Saturday 8 October 2011

Millennials - More open, but no less private

Well if you have any association with loyalty marketing, you can't fail to have noticed the new brand on the block, Aimia.

Whilst exciting news (full disclosure - I work for Aimia), it was also great to see some new research released at the same time which we've just carried out on the loyalty market. Part of an ongoing strategy for loyalty thought-leadership, the new research entitled "Born this way - the US Millennial Loyalty Survey" focused on the growing importance of the Millennial generation. Numbering over 1.7bn globally, this generation is bigger than the Baby Boomers and three times the size of Generation X - they are also coming of age and so will be increasingly important to brands who want to connect with them.

Whilst the research focussed on many different areas, a really interesting aspect was the Millennials opinion of data privacy.

Interesting because for many, including Facebook chief, Mark Zuckerberg there is a feeling that younger people don't care about privacy and will share anything and everything. Zuckerberg was quoted as saying:-

People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people

For a generation growing up in a connected world with internet access, mobile phones and social networks it's probably no surprise that they have a different take on privacy, openness and the sharing of data - but does this mean they are any less concerned about their privacy?

The Aimia research does indicate that they have higher levels of openness than non-Millennials being more likely to share personal information with websites (36% vs 22%) and more likely to share information with a reward programme (50% vs 37%).

Aimia privacy

However what doesn't seem to change with age and is consistent across the generations is the desire around data to be both informed and to inform. Consumers overwhelmingly want to know why data is being collected (84% Milllennials / 86% None) and want to be able to opt in to sharing it with with over 77% preferring to opt-in when sharing location information or online behaviour.

There is however a higher level of trust with reward programmes, with Millennials trusting these even more. It seems when the value exchange is explicit and the consumer knows why their data is being collected they are much more comfortable with sharing it. Highlighting this within the report, it says:-

Millennials expect the Value Exchange to be transparent and permission-based. [they] are willing to grant you a measure of trust—but will quickly end the relationship if you violate that trust.

Social network privacy is also important to all consumers with Millennials valuing this even more (40% vs 38%), indicating both the value they put on social networks and the value they put on their data. This is backed up by new research from Forrester in a report entitled "Personal Identity Management". The report discussed findings from Gigya which highlighted how consumers tend to use different social network identities to log into different types of web content, stating:-

Users are most likely to log on to entertainment sites via Facebook Connect, for example, but prefer to log in to news sites via their Twitter handles. Each option shares a different set of data with the authorized site, so the fact that consumers are making an active choice highlights how they differentiate among the various sites with which they engage.

The Forrester report goes on to highlight a growing trend for consumers taking more control of their personal information, something they term PIDM (Personal Identity Management) but which is also similar to the growing movement around VRM (Vendor Relationship Management). This is something which is backed up in the Aimia research where the consumers desire for more control of their data is expressed with a strong preference (76%+) for being able to create a portable "privacy profile".

Forrester go on to discuss the implications of this for marketers, highlighting five main areas that need to be addressed in order to "unlock" consumer information and which echo the Aimia research around the consumers desire for privacy, security, value exchange, transparency and portability.

Forrester privacy

In conclusion, Forrester articulates what they feel a value exchange looks like for consumer personal information saying:-

[..] Two factors will come into play when it comes to the notion of value. First, consumers will need to receive highly targeted and relevant content, offers, discounts, and rewards for sharing their data. Second, we envision a rewards-based system wherein individuals will accumulate points across a closed ecosystem of marketers, services, and vendors that wish to retain maximum access to consumer data

This sounds a lot like a loyalty programme to me and given the increased likilihood for consumers to provide this information to reward programmes as highlighted within the Aimia research, it would suggest that the future of loyalty is very bright indeed. Wrapping this up the Aimia research concludes by saying:-

[..] The tools of loyalty management can make the difference. By facilitating the value exchange through targeted applications of reward and recognition, you’ll gain customer data that provides insight into Millennials as individuals. You’ll learn to deliver offers that focus their attention. They’ll respond to your efforts with increased loyalty, profitable behavior and word-of-mouth advocacy.