Germany shows us the GDPR is not all doom and gloom

News by Roland van Breukelen

Roland van Breukelen, Marketing Director SAP Customer Experience

In terms of GDPR compliance, Germany was a step ahead of the rest, passing an update to its Federal Data Protection Act (FDPA) back in April 2017 to bring it in line with the requirements of the new EU-wide regulation. Which is handy, because it means we can look to the Germany results in the SAP Customer Experience Consumer Insights Report for a glimpse at what the impact of GDPR on consumer behaviours will look like for the rest of us.
And, spoiler alert: it’s not bad news.
Let’s take the UK as a comparison. Our survey showed that 66% of UK respondents are ‘willing to share some information’ with brands, including things like email addresses, shopping history, mobile numbers, location, and others. And in Germany? The number is the same – 66% of respondents are willing to share some information with brands. So when switching from an opt-out to an opt-in marketing policy, and putting more control back into the hands of consumers, Germany hasn’t seen a huge drop off in the numbers of people willing to share personal data with businesses. Phew!
In fact, in some cases, we see that German consumers are actually willing to share more with brands than those in the UK – for example, their email addresses (55% in Germany vs. 50% in the UK), mobile phone numbers (20% vs. 19%) and monthly income (8% vs. 6%). What’s more, when it comes to consumer willingness to share information across borders, German consumers were far more willing – 50% are happy with cross-border personal data sharing compared to 40% in the UK.
When it comes to even more personal data, like financial details and identification numbers, German consumers are again more open to information sharing than those in the UK. For financial details it’s 5% in Germany vs. 2% in the UK; for identification numbers, it’s the same – 5% vs. 2%.
The opportunity for richer data
When extrapolated, the differences in these numbers are significant. They point to a huge opportunity for richer data on the other side of the GDPR, all by giving consumers more control over their own personal information, allowing them to set their own preferences, and going on to offer them a personalised, relevant experience that’s true to their original interaction with the businesses.
As we’ve explored in a previous blog, this all boils down to trust. Building trust is the key to a brand or business building a bank of loyal customers. And that trust can be achieved just by using data in the right way, which means being transparent and delivering a personalised, relevant customer experience – nothing more, nothing less. All of which the GDPR naturally helps businesses to do, as the numbers from Germany indicate.
If a business is successful in building trust up front, it gives itself the opportunity to strengthen customer profiles later on in the customer lifecycle. And strengthening customer profiles means being able to deliver even more personalised, relevant customer experiences and drive more and longer-term value from customers. We can see from Germany that consumers on the other side of the GDPR are no less willing to share personal information with brands, and sometimes they’re even more willing, so it’s clear that the regulation supports rather than hinders business objectives like these. Helping businesses to stay competitive and achieve ROI.
Businesses have been acquiring more and more data for at least a decade. We live in ‘big data’ times – so, if anything, the GDPR is pretty overdue. Compliance – and taking a more organised approach to the data we gather – shouldn’t be thought of as a tick-box exercise, but a chance to drive tangible value and greater business success.

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