Consumer trust in brands and their willingness to provide personal information in exchange for rewards may be eroding, according to research released by LoyaltyOne, a Toronto-based provider of coalition loyalty, customer analytics and loyalty services.

The company’s latest survey shows that when it comes to privacy, U.S. consumers are still protecting some of their personal information as much as they do their social security number.

Of the 1,000 U.S. consumers responding to an online survey, 50 percent said they’d be willing to give a trusted company their religious affiliation, 49 percent their political affiliation, 49 percent their sexual orientation, 36 percent health information, 26 percent mental health information, 24 percent browsing history and 15 percent for both smart phone location and number of sexual partners. Last on the list is their social security number at 11 percent.

LoyaltyOne completed online surveys in July 2012 with 1,000 American respondents. The research is designed to test consumer attitudes about personal data collection and use by marketers. Several of the 2012 questions followed up on a 2011 survey and were structured to measure changes in U.S. consumer sentiments over the past year.
Some key year-to-year results:

  • 78 percent of U.S. respondents said they do not feel they receive any benefit at all from sharing information, up from 74 percent in 2011 
  • Less than half feel that companies use their personal data to better serve the consumer, an 11 percent slip from 2011 
  • 62 percent said they would share more personal data if it meant receiving relevant product and service offers, down from 66 percent in 2011.

“These responses point to an unmistakable trend. Marketers’ efforts to create relevant customer experiences through data need to be re-addressed or they run the risk of their efforts not resonating with customers,” said Bryan Pearson, president of LoyaltyOne and author of the book, The Loyalty Leap: Turning Customer Information Into Customer Intimacy.

“Consumers are disappointed. For years they’ve provided their valuable information and they’re not realizing something of suitable worth in return,” Pearson said. “If businesses don’t act quickly to demonstrate they have the consumer’s best interest at heart, they risk an erosion of the business-to-consumer relationship.”

Some other highlights from the report include:

  • 27 percent of survey takers would give up their location via cell phone for a chance to win an iPad or weekend getaway; cash would entice more than half 
  • 71 percent said it’s not acceptable to send baby food offers to someone who had merely purchased a pregnancy test.

The LoyaltyOne survey is a representative true random sampling of U.S. consumers. Statistical significance is calculated at the 95 percent confidence level.