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Experience trumps privacy for consumers in China: Study

  • 9 in 10 Chinese consumers are looking for technology to help filter messages
  • 90% of consumers in China want digital services to help manage information shared online
  • 90% of consumers in China are aware that personal digital data can be used to exchange for better experiences

Consumers in China are showing greater openness towards brands using personal information collected online to tailor services and help them get more done. The research, taken from Microsoft Advertising’s bi-annual Microsoft Digital Trends report, found that nine in 10 (90 per cent) Chinese consumers are looking for technology to help filter the messages they see, compared to just six in 10 (63 per cent) globally. Additionally, close to 90 per cent of consumers in China want digital services to help manage information shared online, higher than the global average of 80 per cent.

Of late, digital consumers have become more aware of their data footprint and are keen to exert greater control of their digital personas. While developed economies – with only five in 10 consumers (55 per cent) in developed markets want technology to help filter the messages they see – are proving to be most sensitive about this issue, consumers in emerging markets such as China are much more open to the idea of brands using data. The study found that 90 per cent of consumers in China are aware that personal digital data can be used to exchange for rewards or better experiences, with nine in 10 consumers showing interest in these exchanges. The research data also evinces the idea that emerging markets consumers are more open to sharing personal data – as long as they are clear on where it is going and how it will be used.

In comparison with findings yielded from the inaugural study in 2013, the 2015 study tracked how the eight most important trends in the original report have evolved over the last two years. These include:
#1. IntelligentlyON: Consumers increasingly want an easier way to find information that’s valuable to them, with almost two thirds (63 per cent, an uplift of 7 per cent since 2013) interested in future technology and services that automatically filters content/messages so they only see or hear what they really need to at any one time.
#2. Real: Redefined: Bridging the physical/digital divide is increasingly important to consumers, who are more likely now to be interested in a future wave of digital devices and services that will allow them to experience any place or object online or offline in the same way (up to 53 per cent from 50 per cent since 2013).
#3. Right to My Identity: Consumer interest in digital services that can manage all of the information they share online has grown by 7 per cent since 2013 (from 73 per cent to 80 per cent). In addition, 57 per cent of global consumers want to be able to choose how long information they share stays online.
#4. Life Analytics: Since 2013, the proportion of consumers who have never interacted with tracking apps or devices, such as connected apps, household appliances and wearables, has declined (38 per cent in 2013 to 28 per cent in 2014). However, while consumers may have been downloading more trackers, less than a third are currently using it to optimise performance.
#5. The New Age of Discovery: Consumer interest in future technology that provides suggestions and recommendations for new experiences, new connections and new things to do that fit their personality and needs is growing – from 50 per cent to 53 per cent. And brands aren’t off the hook – almost a half (48 per cent) expect brands to know them and help them discover new products or services that fit their needs.
#6. Now Networks: The lure of ‘one size fits all’ social networks is falling, as consumers use different digital social networks that are specialised, and suited to their precise needs or activities (up from 41 per cent to 48 per cent). This presents a big opportunity for brands – 55 per cent of global consumers say they are more likely to interact with a brand when using more specialist and niche digital services. But marketers should think beyond fixed networks and think about how to find the right network for the right moment – and not trying to capture all experiences at the same time.
#7. Creative Me: Consumers want to take control and shape their digital experiences. Globally, 40 per cent say they would like to be able to learn more about customisable services – compared to 38 per cent in 2013. For brands: 56 per cent of global consumers say they are much more likely to buy from companies who allow them to shape their products or services.

“Consumers today are making themselves more open to brands compared to two years ago, presenting huge opportunities for marketers – as long as the privacy rules are followed. Companies have to be transparent about how data is collected and how it will be used. There must also be a reward given to consumers, as an incentive for them to provide data and engage with the brands’ services. Finally, brands should make the online and offline experience as seamless as possible, minimizing friction and workarounds to provide consumers with the same experience wherever they are,” said Adam Anger, General Manager, Asia Pacific, Microsoft Advertising.

Microsoft Digital Trends 2015 is a research partnership between Microsoft and the Future Laboratory Research to investigate the future of digital behavior and technology to better understand how brands can meet consumers’ expectations today and in the future. Each trend tells a compelling story of the changing consumer relationships toward devices, platforms, apps and brands, and together, helps advertisers to understand the new rules around consumer digital experiences. The study polled more than 13,000 consumers in 13 different global markets, including Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States.

Noor Fathima Warsia

A veteran journalist in the Indian marketing, media and advertising fraternity, Noor Fathima Warsia took on the role of Group Editor -– APAC for Digital Market Asia in May 2013. Noor has focussed on tracking trends and developments in the Indian media industry.