Contrary to popular belief, only a minority of consumers are openly disposed to the “give to get” exchange of private information need for retailers to give relevant guidance to customers. New research shows that 14% are privacy spenders and 15% are open guidance-seekers.

IDC Retail Insights has announced the results of the 2013 Annual Shopper Survey in the new report, Green Lights and Bright Red Lines: Relevancy and Privacy Challenges for 2014. The new study presents a finer-grained assessment of consumers’ disposition toward the privacy/relevancy trade-off in more concrete terms by which consumers make their choices.

The analysis also identifies green lights of opportunities and draws bright red lines between data collection and offers orchestration tactics that retailers should use aggressively, with caution, or not at all depending on their shoppers’ attitudes toward the privacy/relevancy trade-off.

“Retailers have to learn to earn the privilege of engaging consumers based on such information as activities on social network, mobile apps, third party apps, and You Tube,” says Greg Girard, programme director: merchandise strategies at IDC Retail Insights.

“The ‘give to get’ dispositions aren’t simply matters of age. In addition to brands serving young adults, those that provide superior customer service, sell high attachment products, and cater to higher income shoppers attract disproportionately larger audiences of guidance seekers and privacy spenders.”

The customer stands centre stage in omni-channel retail, according to the study. Earning the privilege of relationships, relevance, and reciprocity with today’s informed, discriminating, and wilful consumers depends on meeting each one’s disposition to granting retailers rights to their private information in exchange for the opportunity to deliver differentiated value. From the customer’s perspective it’s a “give to get” proposition; from a retailer’s it’s “learn to earn”.

IDC Retail Insights’ recent survey research and market analysis of consumers’ dispositions toward “giving to get” and opportunities for “learning to earn” spotted green lights and bright red lines retailers should abide.

In IDC Retail Insights’ opinion:

* Shoppers are split about equally into two groups, those who choose privacy over relevancy and those who prefer relevancy over privacy, 53% to 47%. But by nearly a two-to-one margin, 62% to 38%, more consumers than not believe that they do not have enough control over their privacy in the hands of the retailers they shop.

* There are financial and customer loyalty risks in following the common wisdom that your customers are the “give to get” type – disenfranchising customers who prefer privacy. Consumers segment into three “giving” types – what they will share; and four “getting” types – what they want in return.

* Omni-channel retailers attract each giving and getting type in different proportions depending on their basis of competition, not based solely on their customers’ age. Among the largest 12 omni-channel retailers those differentiating on service, selling high attachment merchandise, and attracting higher income customers disproportionately attract customers more disposed to “giving for getting”.

Those differentiating on value, selling commodity-like products, and attracting modest income customers disproportionately attract customers of the opposite ilk.

* Engage privacy spenders and guidance seekers in digital and mobile media with life-centric messages extended possibly to social media activities. Keep the privilege of personal engagement. Be cautious engaging privacy hoarders and stay on product promotions focused on product performance and benefits. Earn the privilege of personal engagement.

* Only about 50% of retailers have a formal governance process for managing “give to get” data, creating risks for those without such a process and the industry overall. On the positive side, about three in four consumers trust some non-retail brands, data aggregators such as Google, Microsoft, and Apple included. Behaviours associated with privacy spending and guidance seeking, such as using five or more connected devices or seven or more apps, are ascendant.

Creating brand and financial value by managing the “give to get” exchange of private information for the right to provide context-sensitive guidance needs to be managed within the context of the omni-channel transformation of retail: digital transformation of marketing, commerce, and merchandising, enterprise integration, and fulfilment broadly defined from product ideation to sale and delivery.

IDC Retail Insights asserts retailers that effectively manage the “give to get” exchange of privacy for the right to provide context-sensitive guidance will be successful. Common wisdom that consumers and your customers are well-disposed to the “give to get” exchange will mislead the strategy and while there are concerns about access to and use of personal data in hyper-personalised offers, opportunities do exist.