Note to brands in the US: You can increase consumer satisfaction — and possibly your competitive position — by emphasizing privacy and data safety.
That’s a key finding from the newest edition of the Digital Satisfaction Index (DSI), which was launched in July as a product of the Intent Lab. The Lab is a joint effort between Northwestern University’s Medill Integrated Marketing Communications program and Publicis Media’s performance marketing firm, Performics Worldwide.
The Lab conducts research into how consumer decisions are made and how brand engagement can improve. The new Q4 DSI report — which looked at consumers in the US, Germany and China — finds that Americans are not too happy with brands’ privacy and data collection.
The US scores 30.3 (out of 100) in consumer satisfaction with Privacy, while China is 41.9 and Germany is 44.7. The report attributes the relatively high score among Germans to Europe’s regulations for consumer opt-in and information transparency.
“Privacy is a deal-breaker in the US,” Performics CEO Michael Kahn told me. “In the US, brands haven’t done a good enough job in making [online users] feel comfortable,” he said. “I absolutely believe that consumer satisfaction [in the US] would be higher with [better] privacy policies.”
Kahn added that brands here are “lagging” in attention to privacy, tend to be more reactive about that factor than proactive and could gain competitively if they took an approach toward privacy more in line with Europe’s coming GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), which requires consent for use of consumer data.
Overall consumer satisfaction in the US went up a few points in the latest DSI compared to July’s, from 58.4 to 61.3. By comparison, China’s is 69.7, and Germany is 64.9. (Neither country was in the previous report.) The DSI is based on in-person interviews and surveys with over 3,000 participants in the three countries.
Consumer satisfaction with online experiences, the DSI says, is driven by an “intent moment” where consumers have a want or need that brands can satisfy, and “four key consumer needs” are met: Trust (which equals consistency), Utility (efficiency), Social (connection) and Privacy (Safety).
Utility (efficiency) is the most important factor for users in all three countries. It can be manifested as an appropriate landing page from a search, a fast e-commerce experience or useful navigation.
The only reason the US total score is a bit higher than it was in the last report, according to DSI, is “because Utility and Social, which people rate very positively, were viewed as being more important than in the previous quarter.”