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Why marketers must be ready for consumers to use new GDPR powers
As you’ll no doubt be aware, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is coming into effect on May 25th. The new rules will fundamentally affect how businesses handle data, as they won’t be allowed to collect unnecessary data about a subject and must be able to justify why certain pieces of information are needed for their operations.

Crucially, GDPR hands game-changing powers to consumers, with data subjects getting the power to access the information companies hold on them and request its erasure.

Of course, regulatory changes for businesses aren’t typically something that get the average person in the street talking. But GDPR could be different, as it’s ushering in a new era of accountability and transparency, with power placed firmly in the consumer’s hands.

Nearly 6 in 10 people believe GDPR will improve data security
According to a new study by media agency the7stars, 58% of people believe the new rules are a positive step towards safeguarding their data and privacy. Significantly, for brands, 32% of consumers said they would trust them more with their data once GDPR is in place, with 18 to 24-year-olds in particular feeling more assured their personal details would be handled securely after May. However, 34% said they intend to take advantage of their ‘right to be forgotten’ once GDPR comes into effect. That’s a considerable number and a reflection of how GDPR is not some obscure regulatory change that can be easily dismissed. Instead, it’s a rule that large swathes of the public want that offers powers they intend to use.

Consumers wary of sharing too much
A separate study by YouGov found that many people are actually quite hesitant of revealing too much about themselves with organisations. Indeed, 80% said they try to limit how much personal information they either put online or share with companies. Meanwhile, 85% said they’d boycott a business if they believed it showed a continual disregard for safeguarding consumer data.

Interestingly, 1 in 5 Britons said they don’t trust any organisations with their data, from retailers and social media organisations to healthcare providers and government institutions. This cynicism is perhaps understandable, as nearly two-thirds of the public said they know of at least one data breach suffered by a brand. Furthermore, a similar proportion said they’d be less likely to use a company’s products or services if they knew it had mishandled data in the past. And perhaps most significantly, 74% would hold the victim of the breach responsible for a data breach, rather than the attacker.

Brands must show they are GDPR-compliant
The onus is therefore on organisations to demonstrate they have a tight data security regime in place and give customers and clients the assurances they need before they hand over sensitive information.

According to the research, just 1 in 5 people are confident their personal data is used in the best possible way by businesses, while nearly 3 in 5 are now questioning how much data firms hold about them as a result of GDPR.

With the launch of this regulation now just around the corner, marketers must have the processes in place to be fully complaint and enable consumers to take advantage of their new rights swiftly and easily.

Those that get this right could be rewarded with a loyal customer base that feels confident handing over useful details that could inform future targeted marketing efforts.

Sources / Further Reading
GDPR: 34% of Brits will exercise the right to be forgotten Mediatel
72% of Brits haven’t heard about GDPR YouGov