Data Collection Relating to Personal Information and Purchase Behaviours – a Consumer Perspective

Data collection relating to personal information and purchase behaviours – a consumer perspective. Every individual to a certain percentage values their privacy. Differentiating factors amongst various individuals could be their cultural background, social environment, literacy and general awareness amongst others. Advancements in technology leading to development of secret cameras for instantaneous photographs, discount cards that store your purchase information, and scanners, have also contributed to this invasion of privacy.

Database marketing assist marketers to record actual purchase behaviours of customers and hence help them monitor and tailor their promotions towards the customer’s interests. Also on the internet a customer is required to fill in certain information before they can make their purchases online. This in turn forms the basis of data capturing by the retailers; these information could be sold to marketers for their promotion purposes.

Sheehan and Hoy, (2000) suggests that if customers are compensated for the use of their data, it could make them see the infringement in another way, and they may not likely term it as a privacy invasion. Such is in the case of discount cards which are data capturing instruments, but give customer a certain percentage of discount to compensate for their unknowing loss of anonymity. Consumer demography and correlation with privacy concerns Many researches carried out on this topic, though limited has shown some interesting views.

The findings of Wang and Petrison (1993) for example and some other researchers are summarised below: – older people showed more concern about financial privacy than younger ones; – younger people were more aware that their data were being collected than older people – younger ones were more concerned about the benefits they would derive from giving out such information; – coloured people were less concerned; – inner city residents were less concerned; lower than average income earners were less concerned about their privacy information, but paid more attention to the compensation attached; – high income earners have more awareness and are more concerned about their privacy; – females exhibit more concern than males about their consumer privacy issues. (Graeff & Harmon, 2002). Many people find it quite easier to produce many demographic data such as age, marital status, occupation and education than to produce that which deals with their finances, health and criminal records. But this also depends on to whom the information is revealed and how it would be used.

For example, if you are opening a checking/loan account with BankPHB plc where I work, you may be required to give details of your financial statement, personal income/pay slip, a utility bill showing evidence of your residence, your social security number or national identification number as the case may be, your health/life insurance policy and so many more in case you want access to a loan. Data of such private information could be given out to law enforcement agencies should the individual be suspected of having any involvement in money laundering or other criminal offences.

Usually medical records are produced by job applicants at the point of entry for screening purposes. Consumer behaviour as regards online purchases and privacy. On internet purchases many people do not feel comfortable giving out their credit card details online, while some are just not bothered about it, but research has shown that less than a quarter of internet users feel insecure with credit card online purchases and more people prefer to use it in stores, or for telephone purchases (Graeff & Harmon, 2002).

Most people do not know how their data is used and even when they do know, it seldom influences their purchasing behaviour, especially if they are high income earners, such that they still go about their normal purchasing. Consumers feel they ought to be informed and have control on how marketers use information about their buying habits; some also feel that government should regulate such uses (Graeff & Harmon, 2002).

Although legal sanctions for misuse of consumer information are now in place, many marketers still ignore this and continue the practise. But it is inevitable that marketers must put a balance between their quest for information from market researches and making their customers feel comfortable doing business with them. Thearling (1998) in his work on data mining technology condemns the violation of the customer’s right to privacy of his information.

For instance if you give your details solely for the purpose of making a credit card purchase and it is used for any other secondary purpose such as data mining, then it is a serious offence. The primary purpose of data collection must be clearly understood by the customer, with an option to opt out of the disclosure of such data in place. He gave an example of the CVS drug store who continually called customers up when their subscription was due for the use of Elensys.

Obviously they got the data through data mining of patients’ medical data from hospitals or previous purchases. Personally, I feel this issue should be deeply addressed and should be sanctionable to make consumers more comfortable doing their businesses without fear of losing their privacy. References: Graeff, T. R. and Harmon S. (2002) Collecting and using personal data: Consumers’ awareness and concerns. Journal of Consumer Marketing. Vol. 19 No. 4 pp302-318. Available from: http://www. emeraldinsight. com. ezproxy. liv. c. uk/0736-3761. htm Accessed: September 10, 2009. Thearling, K. (1998) Data Mining and Piracy: A conflict in the making? Available online from: http://www. thearling. com/text/dsstar/privacy. htm/ Accessed 16th September 2009. Sheehan, K. B. and Hoy, M. G. (2000), “Dimensions of privacy concern among online consumers”. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing. Vol. 19 No. 1. pp 62-73. Wang, P. and Petrison, L. A. (1993), “Direct marketing activities and personal privacy”. Journal of Direct Marketing. Vol. 7 No. 1, pp 7-19.

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