The Effects of Firm Privacy Strategy on Firm Performance Outcomes
The Economist claimed that “the world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data” (The Economist, 2017). That is not to say that oil is losing value; instead, it is rather about the exponential growth of data and its ever-increasing relevance to the business world.
The availability of consumer data is fueling this development. Firms are increasingly collecting consumer data to customize services and products and personalize marketing activities. The competitive landscape is becoming more and more data-driven such that firms that do not embrace data in everything they do will fall behind and might even fail.
While firms aim to collect consumer data to boost their marketing efforts, consumers are wary of providing personal information. A recent McKinsey survey shows that consumers lack trust in the businesses they patronize—87% of the respondents would not do business with a firm if they were concerned about the firm’s information security practices, while 71% would stop doing business if the firm gave away sensitive information without permission (Anant et al., 2020).. While data is becoming an increasingly valuable resource, information privacy is a crucial driver that will influence the direction and pace of data-driven marketing for the upcoming years.
Accordingly, understanding how firm handle information privacy, consumers’ willingness to share personal information with firms, and the effects on firm performance have gained remarkable relevance. When and why consumers accept or reject firms to collect, store, and use their personal data has become a topic of prime importance for the marketing field (Wedel & Kannan, 2016).
Drawing on Structural Equation Modelling on data collected from 15,064 consumers across 24 countries, we show the positive association between a firm’s privacy strategy (operationalized as data use transparency and costumer control) affects its performance outcomes (operationalized as positive word of mouth and loyalty) and that this relationship is systematically mediated by institutional trust and perceived benefits.
Firms that are more transparent and grant consumers more control over their personal information achieve higher WOM and loyalty. The relationship between firm privacy strategy and firm performance outcomes is mediated by institutional trust and perceived benefits. Thus, trust and benefits are essential drivers in the customer-firm relationship and may even compensate for lower levels of firm privacy. We demonstrate our models’ robustness by estimating several country-level moderators (e.g. privacy regulation, national culture etc.).
Anant, V., Donchak, L., Kaplan, J., & Soller, H. (2020). The consumer-data opportunity and the privacy imperative. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/risk/our-insights/the-consumer-data-opportunity-and-the-privacy-imperative
The Economist. (2017). The world’s most valuable resource. https://www.economist.com/leaders/2017/05/06/the-worlds-most-valuable-resource-is-no-longer-oil-but-data
Wedel, M., & Kannan, P. K. (2016). Marketing Analytics for Data-Rich Environments. Journal of Marketing, 80(), 97–121.
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