Royal Mail MarketReach conducted online surveys with customers and donors in seven key market sectors in the UK.

The objective was to understand consumer attitudes towards providing organisations permission to hold and use their personal information. The study’s findings reveal that trust is central to customers’ willingness to provide data.

Firstly, people need to trust in the competence of an organisation to protect their information from loss or theft. People are worried about hacking, phishing and identity theft. Overall, 71% of our sample said they were concerned (47% very concerned, 24% fairly concerned) that a supplier could lose their contact details.

Secondly, people need to trust the intent of an organisation in relation to the use of their data. The study found that there were certain influences that could help to predict where there might be greater or lesser challenges to gaining permission. For example:

■ Older people, women and lower paid people were more resistant than others.

■ Existing relationships matter. Respondents were more likely to give permission to the organisations they have a relationship with.

■ Some sectors were also likely to have higher or lower levels of implicit trust regarding use of personal data.

■ Surprisingly, trust related to the collecting and holding of data may be a very distinct issue from sector or even brand trust.

A key finding was that building trust regarding data security and privacy was a matter that could and should be undertaken before a formal request for permission. This is partly to build reassurance, and partly because many respondents stated that they did not fully read, understand or believe permission statements.

Access the full report here