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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

What Are Consumers' Attitudes About Data Practices in Asia-Pacific

Customer data can be a gold mine for marketers—but how can both marketers and consumers best benefit? This research explores Asian consumers’ perceptions, preferences, sentiments, and behaviors when it comes to company practices regarding the collection and usage of personal data. 

The findings are from The Conference Board® Global Consumer Confidence Survey, an online survey of almost 32,000 consumers in 63 markets, conducted in collaboration with Nielsen in February 2020. The following Asia-Pacific markets are included in the analysis: Australia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. The sample includes 500 respondents per market, representative of each market’s online population by age and gender.

This research is a collaboration between The Conference Board and Nielsen to address a timely and pressing topic of broad interest to business and policy audiences. 

Insights for What’s Ahead

  • Most Asian consumers have some concerns about corporate data practices. Over 50% of the consumers surveyed are generally uncomfortable with having their personal data collected (page 17). Even if they don’t outright state they are uncomfortable, they still tend to have specific, often serious, concerns. Very few say they have no concerns whatsoever (page 9). Potential data breaches, third-party sharing, and nontransparent data practices are the top concerns (page 10). Operating with transparency and giving people options are essential measures to ease concerns.
  • Corporate data practices can have an important financial impact by influencing consumer purchase decisions. Over 60% of the consumers surveyed say a company's data practices are important in their decision to buy or use certain products or services (page 18). This sentiment is particularly strong in many emerging markets in Asia. When consumers don’t like company data practices, nearly a quarter say they’ve abandoned brands or switched to alternatives (page 12). On the other hand, good corporate data practices can be a differentiator and competitive advantage. Employing data practices that customers appreciate may ultimately pay off by encouraging additional business with existing and new customers and minimizing negative customer reactions.
  • Consumers value free content more than personalized content as a benefit of sharing their data, but differences across the region are pronounced. In Japan, 41% of the consumers surveyed would give up customization in exchange for not being tracked but only 16% would give up free content (page 24). This gap is similarly pronounced for many other markets in the region. Notable exceptions are India, Singapore, and Australia, where consumers appear much more willing to give up free content in exchange for not being tracked. The lower appreciation for personalization could part ly be due to lack of awareness. Consumers might appreciate customization more if companies clearly explained its benefits. Companies could help users better understand which offerings, messages, and experiences are personalized and demonstrate what the user experience would be like without personalization.
  • Consumers believe data sharing mostly benefits companies, not them. Almost two-thirds of the respondents felt that their personal data mostly benefits companies (page 15). Less than half feel that companies’ use of their data has improved their lives in some way through more personalization, better options, or enhanced convenience (page 16). Clearly, corporate data strategies need to incorporate an education element to explain how the company’s use of personal data benefits customers. Education measures should include making users aware of free and personalized content and the enhanced convenience and services made possible by virtue of their personal data. For long-term customer satisfaction, companies need to build trust with consumers to remedy data-sharing concerns.
  • Consumers are generally agreeable to sharing data with third parties if they are given agency and receive benefits. Only a quarter of the consumers surveyed are strictly against third-party data sharing. Almost a quarter find third-party sharing acceptable if they have control over what is shared; and another quarter find it acceptable if data are shared for select beneficial transactions. Surprisingly, only 16% would accept third-party data sharing in return for financial compensation, perhaps a reflection of the novelty of the concept (page 23). Giving customers a voice in third-party sharing appears to be a way to share select data with external parties while gaining customer trust.
  • People need and value help in recognizing fake content. Slightly more than half of the consumers surveyed think that they would recognize fake content. Interestingly, in the most advanced markets, particularly Australia and Singapore, consumers are less confident about their ability to identify fake content (page 19). It is clear that consumers need—and prospectively will appreciate—help identifying fake content. A joint effort to increase consumer trust in content integrity—across brands, browser providers, platform operators, and device manufacturers—could prospectively generate ecosystem-wide benefits.
  • Consumers want external oversight of some sort; but it is much less clear who should do the supervising. Only 13% of the consumers surveyed think each company should supervise its own data practices without any external oversight. Many prefer government-run consumer protection agencies, although a wide range of other options are also cited favorably (page 28). By proactively choosing to collaborate with governments and consumer organizations on data policies companies can have a say in the process of addressing consumer concerns.
  • There are several pronounced differences between consumer sentiment in emerging versus advanced markets across Asia-Pacific. In emerging markets, consumers tend to feel better informed about what data companies collect and how they use it (page 20) and are much more favorably inclined towards shared, company-consumer data ownership (page 27). In advanced markets consumers tend to feel less informed about data collection and usage and prefer personal data ownership.
  • Consumers in Australia and Singapore seem to have significantly higher levels of trust in their country’s data privacy environment. This higher level of trust is evident in several respondent expressions: relatively fewer number of concerns regarding corporate data practices (page 13); very little discomfort about companies collecting personal data (page 17); and little influence of data practices on consumer purchasing decisions (page 18). Consumers in Australia and Singapore also overwhelmingly think that companies’ data practices should be supervised by the government (page 28).

Across Asia, company data practices are important to consumers, and can significantly impact purchasing and/or brand usage behavior

Percent of respondents agreeing with the following statements ….

 

Percent of respondents agreeing with the following statements ….

 

 

For access to the full report, please contact our research or membership staff listed on the last page of the downloabable Executive Summary PDF.

 

 

AUTHORS

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Anke Schrader

Research Director, the China Center for Economics and Business
The Conference Board

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Minji Xie

Research Analyst, China Center for Economics and Business
The Conference Board


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