Razorfish Study Finds Consumers’ Data Privacy Concerns Don’t Reflect Their Actions


Brought on by a significant increase in awareness regarding data privacy, Razorfish has released a research study that aims to better understand consumer attitudes. The study, titled The Data Privacy Paradox, focuses on uncovering how brands can learn from those attitudes to walk the fine line between respecting boundaries and creating personalized experiences which add value to consumers' lives.

Data privacy has become an increasingly important issue for individuals and organizations alike; understanding the value exchange between people's willingness to give up data and what motivates them to do so can be very intriguing. Companies have long been trying to drive “personalized” experiences by hyper-targeting individuals, but there is a disconnect between what companies are offering and what consumers want.

“With a mission of connecting brand purpose to business performance, this study showcases how people want personalized experiences without putting their data at risk. But we’ve learned that the tradeoff creates a bit of a paradox,” said Eddie Gonzalez, Chief Strategy Officer, Performance & Experience at Razorfish. “Though consumers are wary of data-sharing, they’re still expecting authentic and personalized content that shows their favorite brands care about, and listen to, their audiences in a safe, transparent way.”

People are taking a multitude of actions to protect their personal data

By actively engaging in the topic, people are taking significant steps to safeguard their data. In the month before taking the survey, half of the respondents blocked emails, 41% implemented two-factor authentication, 45% prevented an app from accessing their location, and 47% changed their password. This behavior may be linked to a heightened sense of concern as well as the adoption of tools that protect privacy. It could also allude to frustrations from consumers who feel they are being inundated by irrelevant content from brands.

Consumers are uncomfortable sharing personally identifiable information, yet many do it daily

In our survey, 78% of respondents said they are uncomfortable with their face scans being collected, and 71% said they’re uncomfortable with companies collecting photos of them. However, a study from Statista in 2018 showed 62% of U.S. adults have taken a selfie and uploaded it to a social media website.

Aligning values and brand purpose is crucial for consumers

Understanding the value people place on their data is intriguing. Respondents’ #1 motivator for sharing—feeling that it contributes to a larger purpose—trumped saving time and even scoring free stuff. 56% of respondents are more likely to give their personal data to organizations that align with their values or have a larger purpose beyond profit. It’s no surprise to us that brand purpose matters (a lot).

Other findings within the study revealed that consumer trust rests on a wide variety of factors and stipulations including, but not limited to:

  • Consumers say they’re paying close attention, but we found otherwise: When asked how much they would trust or distrust their data with organizations across industries, more than 56% said they “somewhat trust” or “trust a lot” healthcare providers and banks, even though these two industries saw the highest number of cybersecurity incidents. On the flip side, social media companies face the most distrust (68%), followed by crypto companies (63%).
  • Data-sharing without authorization is detrimental: 1 in 2 respondents claim they would never do business with a company again if their data was shared without their consent.
  • Channel matters. Trust in devices (29%) ranks higher than trust in government (22%), tech platforms (16%), and brands (13%).
  • Personalization walks a fine line: While nearly 19% of respondents were disappointed in personalization efforts, the 21% who found it to be great also found it creepy.

Business Recommendations

  1. Take control of your first-party data. Maintaining data quality and identifying gaps in your collection plan is key.
  2. Be transparent about how and why data is being collected. Develop a policy, obtain consent and allow users to access, and delete, their data.
  3. Be purposeful with how you use customer data. Brands can use customer data to create valuable experiences in a variety of ways, such as product development and proactive communications.
  4. Take credit for your achievements. Data privacy takes investment and commitment. Don’t be shy about showing your work.

Access the full study: The Data Privacy Paradox


Razorfish partnered with GWI to develop an online, recontact survey sent to over 1,600 respondents across the U.S., ages 16-64+ around their attitudes toward data privacy. The study ran from December 2022 through January 2023.

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