2CVSonal Malkan

How Aware of GDPR are the British General Public?

Since General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) became prevalent in the world of business there has been a lot of conversation and uncertainty surrounding this issue. GDPR poses challenges for any company that holds personal data for communicating with their current, lapsed and potential customers or donors. And so, many organisations have had to consider the implications of these data laws and have been preparing for these changes. However, so far, little attention has been paid to the people whose data will be protected by this new legislation. Just to be clear, at 2CV, we are not GDPR experts, but we are experts in people! We conducted a quantitative survey with 500 people and some voxpops with members of the public to bring their views of the GDPR to life.

How Aware of GDPR are the British General Public?

Our research uncovered some interesting themes:

1. Awareness of GDPR is relatively low

Whilst it is a big topic for businesses, only 19% of consumers claimed to fully understand the term GDPR and even then, most were very vague on the specifics and we were met by some confused faces during our voxpops. 

2. Attitudes to data collection are in fact quite negative

There were 3 overwhelming concerns on sharing their personal data.  43% are concerned that companies will pass on their details to others, 37% fear companies would contact them too often and 35% don't feel their data will be kept safe - all of which are barriers companies will need to overcome.

3. Consumers see GDPR as an opportunity for a 'communications cleanse'
Once shown a short GDPR explanation, people welcomed the opportunity to de-clutter their inboxes from spam and generic communications they expressed annoyance over receiving. Therefore, GDPR offers potential to address the negatives they currently experience, presenting a risk to companies that hold their details.

4. Consumers fear they will miss out if they opt out of communications
Whilst consumers actively welcome a communications cleanse, they are concerned about missing out on offers, promotions or relevant communications from companies that are important to them.  Although people resent having their inboxes clogged up, they are already conscious of the negative consequences from not responding to an email requesting them to opt in.

5. Consumers are most likely to opt into companies that give them something in return

Consumers claim they are most likely to opt into sectors that provide offers, deals and promotions. So it was not surprising that fashion brands, restaurants and supermarkets were favoured for opting into, while charities sat lower down the list of the organisations we included. However, respondents took longer to answer the question for charities in comparison to the other sectors. There's a different dynamic at play, with people weighing up how emotionally connected they feel to the charities they invest in, against some of the barriers such as frequency and persistence of communications, and how charities ask for support.

So, what does this mean?

As we get closer to the deadline of the 25th May 2018, there is likely to be greater interest in the topic from the media and heightened communications from a range of organisations, which could shift perceptions dramatically or bring it closer to the spotlight. And so, it is important for companies to act now to shape the GDPR narrative before others may influence how consumers perceive the new data changes. In the voice of the consumer, it is important to clearly state what GDPR means for them - what they need to do and when, reassure on data security and create an emotional connection so they can see there is 'something for me'.


Sonal Malkan


2CV London