Susan EtlingerConsumer Perceptions of Privacy in the Internet of Things   report cover

By Jessica Groopman




For strategists and executives at medium to large enterprises involved in digital, security, privacy, and brand strategy, innovation, marketing, service, product management, customer experience, or data.

Table of Contents

• Exposure to IoT (or lack thereof) Will Impact Engagement 

• Tremendous Concern over the Use & Sharing of Connected Device Data Highlights the Top Barrier Facing IoT

• Companies Must Respond to Consumer Cries for Value Creation, Control, & Transparency

• Research Reveals Opportunities for Brands to Engage More Strategically and Ethically

Executive Summary

The digitalization of our physical world—what many are now calling the ‘Internet of Things’—is challenging our expectations of privacy. Adding sensors to ourselves, and to the objects and places around us, renders our physical world communicable, contextual, and trackable. The full implications of ubiquitous connectivity remain blurry, but Altimeter Group’s survey of 2,062 American consumers makes one point crystal clear: Consumers are decidedly anxious about how companies use and share data from their connected devices. Our research finds a massive gulf between consumer awareness and industry practices when it comes to privacy. But this data reveals more than a concerned citizenry, it reveals tremendous opportunities for companies to foster more trusted customer relationships.

Key Findings:

1. Consumers’ top concern: Who is seeing my data? Consumers are highly anxious about companies sharing their data: 78% of consumers are highly concerned about companies selling their data to third parties.

2. At least half of consumers express heightened discomfort with the use and sale of their data in connected ‘real world’ environments. While older generations show higher concern, strong discomfort with the use and sale of connected device data is pervasive across all age groups, including millennials.

3. Consumers want more information and more engagement around privacy. While trust and understanding of standard data collection and privacy protections are low, consumers are highly interested in deeper information and more frequent notifications.

4. Consumers demand value in exchange for their data. Primarily in monetary form, but also in the form of time, energy, and convenience.

5. Technological awareness informs trust and influences consumer expectations for engagement. Exposure to technology is a key indicator for expectations around notifications, service, education and trust.


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