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BizReport : Internet : July 03, 2015

Study finds that 'data for discounts' consumer behavior is a fallacy

Trading data for discounts is not the primary reason consumers give up their personal data, according to a new study from the University of Pennsylvania.

by Helen Leggatt

In their study of 1,506 online Americans, the University of Pennsylvania uncovered what they refer to as 'resignation' of consumers to hand over personal data to marketers. According to one of the authors of the study, Dr. Joseph Turow, a communications professor at the University, that resignation comes from a belief that marketers will collect their data no matter what.

Overall, 91% of the respondents disagreed with the statement "If companies give me a discount, it is a fair exchange for them to collect information about me without my knowing". Furthermore, 41% were of the opinion that, even though they desired more control over their data, they have little control over what marketers are allowed to collect.

"A relatively small proportion believes in tradeoffs," said Dr. Turow. "And the thing is when consumers are giving data to a company, no one can tell from outside watching the person whether they're doing it out of resignation or whether they're doing it for incentives. Marketers have been happy to say that it's all because of tradeoffs, but we're suggesting that given the large percentage of Americans that are resigned and the small percentage that believe in tradeoffs that really when you see people doing this it's really because of resignation."

Another highlight of the study, 'A Tradeoff Fallacy', was the finding that nearly three-quarters (72%) believe that what companies know about them through their behavior online could hurt them.

"When we combined the people who are resigned with those who believe what firms know can hurt them, we found that 41% of Americans are not only resigned, they hold a dark concern that the basic dynamics of the emerging marketplace will cause them injury - and that they cannot control it," says the report.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: data trends, marketing, online, privacy

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