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Why Americans are secretly furious with marketers

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If you read through one piece of research this year it might just be a new report from the University of Pennsylvania on marketers, consumers, and privacy. The research is important not just for its surprising revelations about privacy but also for its unapologetic scolding of the way marketers have been mis-leading their customers.

The new Annenberg survey results indicate that marketers are misrepresenting a large majority of Americans by claiming that Americans willingly provide personal information as a tradeoff for benefits they receive. To the contrary, the survey reveals most Americans do not agree that “data for discounts” is fair.

The researchers say that Americans are resigned to giving up their data — and that is why many appear to be engaging in tradeoffs. Americans believe it is “futile” to manage what companies can learn about them.

Getting furious with marketers

The study reveals that more than half do not want to lose control over their information but also believe this loss of control has already happened. By misrepresenting the American people and championing the tradeoff argument, marketers give policymakers false justifications for allowing the collection and use of all kinds of consumer data often in ways that the public find objectionable.

The researchers write that the futility they found, combined with a broad public fear about what companies can do with the data, portends serious difficulties for the institution of consumer commerce.

This remarkable study provided a source of rich conversation for Tom Webster and I and we captured this conversation on our latest Marketing Companion radio show. You won’t want to miss our observations on:

  • The shocking way marketers are manipulating our personal data
  • How most Americans overestimate the extent to which the government protects them from discriminatory pricing
  • Why honesty can serve as a point of differentiation
  • Facebook’s leadership role in this issue
  • How companies are using personal information to institutionalize a profound form of discrimination

I believe this is one of the most illuminating discussions we have had on the podcast and I hope you’ll tune into this crucial discussion:

If you can’t access the podcast above, click on this link to listen to Episode 52

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