SAS Study Reveals Consumers Want More Personalization, Despite Privacy Concerns

ORLANDO, FL—Despite growing concern over the safety of their private data, consumers want more personalized communication from businesses, according to findings from a SAS study revealed at the company's Premier Business Leadership Series conference here Thursday.

While 71 percent of the 1,260 respondents surveyed said that recent news increased their privacy concerns, a hefty 60 percent still expect businesses to know their preferences and understand their needs. Fifty-nine percent indicate seeing an improvement in personalized communications by businesses over the past five years.

"When businesses use analytics wisely, and with sensitivity to customers' personally identifiable information, it's a win-win," Wilson Raj, global customer intelligence director at SAS, said. "It's a win for brands that nurture profitable relationships based on a deep understanding of their customers. And consumers win when they receive relevant offers and communications from vendors they prefer."

But, he added, technology can help companies adhere to a strict code of ethics for protecting customer information. "Data privacy policies require a thoughtful data management and integration strategy to ensure not only effective marketing, but also authentic and welcome customer contacts," he said.

Respondents with incomes higher than $100,000 were more likely to expect businesses to understand them (67 percent), as were those under age 30 (66 percent). Those with higher salaries also reported improved personalization (69 percent) and fewer irrelevant messages (44 percent).

Airlines and hospitality trailed behind other industries in terms of customer understanding. "It's disappointing that the airline and hospitality industries get such mediocre scores from the public," Kelly McGuire, executive director of the hospitality and travel global practice for SAS, said. "With the amount of data they collect—from loyalty cards, review sites, online browsing and bookings—they have a treasure trove of customer insights available to them. Clearly there is a huge opportunity here. Based on these results, those that effectively turn data into customer insights will be the ones that win."

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