Personal data and brand trust: a modern-day barter system

Digital Natives Trade Personal Information for VIP Access, Exclusive Experiences and Discounts According to The Canadian Council of PR Firms' New Study

TORONTO, July 15, 2015 /CNW/ - Even in the age of social sharing, today's digital consumers are still cautious about sharing their personal data. For the majority of Canadians, divulging personal information to brands is a modern-day barter system based on brand trust, with exclusivity as the most lucrative trade for the digitally-savvy.  This is according to new research from the Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms (CCPRF) conducted on the Angus Reid Forum.

Contrary to the stereotype that suggests digital natives share personal information indiscriminately, the research showed that trust and brand reputation still play a pivotal role: only 18 per cent of Canadians who self-identified as "digital natives" say they always share personal information when brands or companies ask (this drops to eight per cent of "digital visitors" and five per cent of the "not digitally savvy").

"In give-and-take digital negotiations, trust is king," said David Gordon, chair of CCPRF. "The majority of Canadians – and especially those who have grown up in the social world -  place significant value on brand and corporate trust." As evidence of this, 63 per cent of all survey respondents said they are likely to share their personal information with a brand or company they trust, and this rises to 74 per cent for digital natives.

It would appear that in some instances trust can be bought, or at least bartered for.  The CCPRF research showed that digital natives are more willing than their less digitally-savvy counterparts to barter their personal data for special offers, exclusive access and discounts, under the right circumstances. However, discounts – even deep ones at 50 per cent – play second fiddle to the promise of VIP status. Only one quarter of digital natives said they would share their personal information with a brand in exchange for a half-off discount, but that figure doubled to 50 per cent when people were offered VIP access or an exclusive experience.

Canadians as a whole are looking for brands to deliver more than just discounts and exclusive deals. Forty-two per cent of those surveyed appreciate it when brands demonstrate their vulnerability because it makes them real and relatable and 41 per cent would welcome becoming a brand ambassador for a company that has a great reputation.  However, if a well-known company experienced a data security breach, it would cause a ripple effect of distrust: 43 per cent would be less likely to share their personal data with a company in the future.

"In this world of seemingly free-flowing information, consumers, regardless of whether they're digital natives or not digitally savvy, know they hold the power with their personal information and that's sacred to them," said Gordon.  "Brands have an important role to play in showing consumers they're valued and in protecting brand reputation to maintain consumer trust."

About the CCPRF research
From February 20-21, 2015 an online survey was conducted among 1,008 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to education, age, gender and region (and in Quebec, language) Census data, to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

The survey asked respondents to identify if they were "digital natives", "digital visitors", "not digitally savvy" or "non participants".  Digital natives were defined as those who selected the phrase: "I am so comfortable in the digital world that many of my daily activities are centered around the digital space".  

The Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms (CCPRF) is the national, agency-based organization of Canada's leading public relations consulting firms, dedicated to promoting the role of public relations in business strategy, organizational development and performance.  The organization values reputations built upon forthright counsel, creative strategies, strong execution, and respect for clients, colleagues and media, and it offers professional development, thought-leadership, a code of ethics and mentorship opportunities to help the industry uphold these principles. For more information, please visit:

SOURCE Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms

For further information: Media requiring further information, please contact: Paige Calvert, DDB Canada, 604.608.4421,; Sheri Papps, Paradigm Public Relations, 416.413.5207,

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