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Companies face a big trust gap on data security

A global PwC survey shows that a large share of consumers are very worried about what happens with their data. Businesses should be too.

PwC’s February 2023 Global Consumer Insights Survey questioned 9,180 consumers in 25 countries and territories about their shopping habits, tech preferences, financial outlook and more. Many respondents, not surprisingly, said they want more frictionless shopping experiences, enabled by digital innovations like scan-and-go technology, click-and-collect services, and in-store facial-recognition software. At the same time, a considerable share of respondents, as the first chart above shows, are very or extremely concerned about the privacy of their personal data, the collection of which is a feature of many of those same technologies. That concern cuts across age groups, and varies depending on the type of business to which they entrust their data, with social media companies eliciting the highest level of concern.

These two findings should be a clarion call for businesses that depend on customer loyalty and trust. Why? Take a look at the second chart, from PwC’s 2023 Global Digital Trust Insights Survey. It shows how few companies have adequately implemented key measures to protect customers’ personal data. Only a fraction (5%) say they always implement all ten of these policies.

To earn and retain the trust of their customers while also providing seamless shopping experiences, CEOs, CTOs and CMOs should bear in mind a phrase heard with increasing frequency among regulators: “secure to market over first to market.” In the race to introduce a new consumer technology, whether a retail app or a VR-enabled virtual storefront, leaders need to tap the brakes and make sure data protection measures are in place before the product is rolled out. Will the data collected be anonymised? Have third-party partners been vetted for their own data-privacy practices? Will customers be asked for express consent to share data before downloading or using the new product? Companies that leave such questions unanswered risk trading one kind of friction for another—and could lose the trust of their customers in the process.

Dive deeper into the findings of PwC’s February 2023 Global Consumer Insights Survey.

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Sabine Durand-Hayes

Sabine Durand-Hayes

Global Consumer Markets Leader, Partner, PwC France

Myles Gooding

Myles Gooding

Global Consumer Markets Advisory Leader, PwC Canada

Brian Crane

Brian Crane

Global Consumer Markets Assurance Leader, Partner, PwC US

Hervé Roesch

Hervé Roesch

Global Consumer Markets Deals Leader, Partner, PwC United Kingdom

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