Building ‘data relationships’ with Kiwis: From data haters to data lovers

Kiwis are among the most sceptical consumers in the world when it comes to sharing data. But why is this the case? Richard Pook, Chief Product Officer at Dentsu Media ANZ, dives into our data-dubious nature and explores what brands can do to turn this around.

Very rarely do we hear or see the word ‘data’ in isolation of phrases like ‘deep fake’, ‘governance’, ‘data fabric’, ‘biofeedback’, ‘data mining’, ‘artificial intelligence’, ‘machine learning’ and so on. In fact – even its simplest associations churn out words like ‘statistics’ and ‘numbers’. It seems very likely that we have become immune to these repetitive, somewhat nebulous phrases. Perhaps more alarmingly, we too quickly forget that at the heart of data, is information about people. It feels almost pointless – even irresponsible to have a data conversation without first and foremost thinking about people.

Which is why at dentsu, our fundamental belief around data is that the best data is the data that customers want to handover to you. Once upon a time, we just wanted people to feel begrudgingly okay with handing over personal details – but this is no longer good enough – especially as brands gear up to enter the transformational era of the metaverse. 

When news first broke of companies investing in this thing called the metaverse, brands went into a frenzy, trying to understand the implications for how we live, how we work, and how brands might exist within this new world. Whilst the metaverse may be the way forward, it hasn’t helped squash the data-technobabble that our industry has been plagued with for some time – and if anything, it may only be perpetuating people’s scepticism and distrust in sharing their data. In this hybrid virtual-physical reality, the one true reality is that brands will only survive in this era if they get customers to initiate offering up their data because it’s a ‘no-brainer’.   

There are a few brands already doing this well. Last year, Nike opened Nikeland, a virtual showroom on Roblox, where visitors can dress their avatars in Nike clothes. It was a no-brainer for customers to hand over their info because in exchange, they got to conveniently try on clothes from the comfort of their couch – perfect for pandemic times. But not all brands are created equal. Nike is one of the most loved and trusted brands in the world putting them streets ahead when it comes to data maturity and the data relationship they have with their customers. However, for most brands, getting customers to engage in a data conversation or data exchange, is easier said than done. 

Turns out, this is more true in New Zealand than most places around the world.

At dentsu, we carry out an annual piece of research called the ‘Data Consciousness Project’, which explores our nations attitude towards all-things data. Specifically, it’s designed to help us understand how Kiwis feel about the collection and use of their data and explores how our data mentality stacks up to the rest of the world. The take-out from this mammoth report in a nutshell:  Kiwis are among the most sceptical and dubious consumers in the world when it comes to sharing data. 

Here’s a few key insights the report uncovered:

We don’t think companies need our data for anything useful When asked “Do you know why companies ask for personal data” only 32 percent of New Zealanders say yes  

We don’t believe the accuracy in our own data When asked if they agree with the statement “data knows us better than ourselves”, only 24 percent of New Zealanders at least agree, while the rest of APAC average is 43 percent (India scores highest at 75 percent)

We’re suspicious of the type of data brands might have on us Two thirds of New Zealanders state that they “don’t know what personal information companies have (67 percent)

We want our cake, and we want to eat it too 70 percent of Kiwis would like the right to refuse the sharing of personal information, but still receive the same level of service – more than the APAC average of 66 percent

We don’t trust companies will have our best interests at heart 75 percent of New Zealanders are worried that social media companies won’t protect their data 

These insights suggest that brands in New Zealand are not doing a good enough job of articulating or demonstrating the benefit of data to their customers.  

So, how can brands best navigate people’s unease in this hyper-tech world and turn data hating Kiwis into data lovers? Enter the ‘data-relationship’ model.

The data relationship model is exactly that – an approach to building a ‘data-relationship’ with customers not a ‘data-approach’. This model can help brands get their customers to the ideal state; the state where people feel empowered and in control of their own personal data. Our research defined three essential building blocks to get brands customers to the point of empowerment and control: trust, purpose, and benefit.

Richard Pook.

1. Trust Trust doesn’t start with data transparency…it starts with your brand.  

It goes without saying that the foundation of any good relationship starts and ends with trust. Edelman’s’ latest report suggests ‘trust is the new brand equity’, with 68 percent of global citizens agreeing that “it is more important for me to be able to trust the brands I buy or use today than in the past”. In times gone by, trust boiled down to price and quality but today it’s a little more complex. The dimensions underpinning trust include competency, reliability, delivering on promises (not just making them), having a positive impact on society, being relevant and relatable. And of course, they need to be transparent. It often feels like the ‘data-world’ has a monopoly on the word ‘transparency’, but it starts way before that with brands needing to be open and honest about everything they do. 

If companies get this right first, and build their trust equity through brand, data related trust will become a lot easier to establish with customers.  

2. Purpose Data is pointless (and negligent) without purpose 

Once the basic need of trust is fulfilled, it’s time for brands to think seriously about what type of data they want from their customers, in essence, what is the purpose of the data to be collected, processed, and analysed. Like any relationship, you need to know why you’re invested. 

The purpose of ‘data’ is no different. Here are a couple considerations:  

Firstly, you need an articulated data purpose that reflects your business ambitions, and that aligns directly with your brand purpose. Too often we see brands treat their data strategy as a separate marketing activity from their overall business vision and purpose, which seems counterproductive when the research tells us people are more likely to give brands access to their data when there is alignment of values with an organisation. Similarly, they are increasingly likely to want to contribute their data for a greater good. Our research shows that one in every two would be happy to give up their energy usage data if it was useful in the fight against climate change.   

The second significant consideration in considering your data purpose is how to appropriately manage the huge moral and ethical responsibility that comes with extracting such personal information. Creating an ‘ethical data framework’ can help ensure the physical and psychological safety for customers (and brands!) in the future. 

3. Benefit Is it worth it?

Once you’re clear on ‘why’ and ‘what’ data you need, it’s only a short step to realise the benefits that you can pass on to consumers. Going back to the relationship analogy, the most fulfilling relationships are those that are reciprocal in nature.  The data-relationship world is exactly that; what do I need to give to you to get what I want? This is the data-benefit exchange.

The key to getting this right  is for brands to provide clarity on the data-benefit proposition. We are increasingly seeing the data-benefit exchange manifest in convenience propositions where personal information is shared for the benefit of shortcuts . 

To get customers closer to wanting to share their personal information, brands need to be crystal clear on the data-benefit proposition and demonstrate how they are using data to help solve needs and problems for customers.

Our research tells us that consumers are more likely to feel comfortable interacting with brands that let them dictate their data journey – so if brands get trust, purpose, and benefit right, it will ultimately help empower the consumer, giving them control of what, when and how much information they hand over – on their terms. This is the ultimate in goal if brands want to survive and thrive in the future.  

This article was originally published in the September/October 2022 issue of NZ MarketingClick here to subscribe.

About Richard Pook

Richard Pook is Chief Product Officer at Dentsu Media ANZ.

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