by Matt Alderton | December 05, 2016
From reading the news to buying groceries, almost everything consumers do in the Digital Age generates data. Eager to gain insights that can help them refine their sales and marketing strategies, companies have been quick to consume that data with few quibbles from their customers. Until now, that is, as a new study from marketing and loyalty analytics company Aimia suggests consumers are becoming more protective of their personal data.

Since 2014, the "Aimia Loyalty Lens" report has sought to understand consumer attitudes about loyalty, engagement, technology, and privacy. Based on a survey of 15,000 people in nine countries, this year's edition found that over three-quarters (77 percent) of consumers would like to have more control over what data companies keep about them.

Indeed, consumers are finally beginning to understand how valuable their data is to companies, according to Aimia, which said 42 percent of consumers see their data as "highly valuable," up significantly from 29 percent in 2014.

Just how valuable their personal data is depends on where consumers live and what type of data they're valuing. For online data such as browsing history and purchases, for instance, South Koreans set a value of $91 (all data was converted into US$), Germans $55, Americans $39, Canadians and Australians $38, Britons $26, Indians $18, and UAE residents $14. For information such as address, email, and phone number, South Koreans and Germans again set a value of $91 and $55, respectively, while Americans set a value of $25, Canadians and Australians $38, Britons $26, Indians $15, and UAE residents $22.

As more consumers begin to understand the value of their data, many are actively limiting companies' access to it, according to Aimia, which said more than half of consumers (56 percent) have taken steps to limit brands from tracking and advertising to them online.

That said, consumers aren't closing off access to their data entirely. Rather, they're expecting more and better service from companies in return for sharing it.

"Today's consumers are digitally savvy," said Aimia Group Chief Operating Officer David Johnston. "They know that their data is valuable to brands and when they share it they expect an improved service or benefit in return. It's encouraging to see brands recognizing this and we need to continue to offer tangible benefits to customers for sharing their data."

Transparency also is important, according to Aimia, which said most consumers (69 percent) were willing to share their cellphone number with a company when it was explained how the company would use it; fewer people (52 percent) were willing to share when no context was provided.

"By being transparent and by giving personalized and tailored benefits, brands can prove to consumers the data exchange is beneficial," Johnston continued. "Those that don't run the risk of losing access to the customer data all together, or potentially having to pay them for the privilege."