Are people really worried about protecting their personal data?

A recent article on the Engage Customer blog described new research by Mintel that found how consumers of all ages are concerned about data privacy online, but younger Millennial consumers are over-sharing data far more than their Baby Boomer parents.

At first sight, this is obvious. Take a look at the Facebook wall of a younger person and it’s often filled with photos and highly personal information shared openly to a relatively large group of friends – usually numbering several hundred people. This is usually not the case when looking at the Facebook wall of their parents – who often find the concept of openly sharing information slightly bizarre and dangerous.

But the Mintel study did notice some specific differences in attitude beyond this generic difference in attitudes to privacy.

60% of Millennials will happily share personal information with marketers, but older consumers are much more protective when contacted by brands. Millennials would even reveal highly personal information if they were going to be rewarded in return – like a shopping voucher in return for their age, contact details, and ‘likes’ on Facebook.

But when asked for an old-fashioned home address, rather than a like on Facebook, the older consumers are much more likely to give this away than the Millennial generation. 40% of Baby Boomers are happy to give brands their home address compared to 38% of Millenials.

We are entering a new generation where social sharing has become a way of life for an entire generation. A major change in attitudes to privacy could be the only thing that derails this social future, but it doesn’t look like this will change any time soon – not for the Millennial generation anyway.


Photo by Carlos Brefe licensed under Creative Commons

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