Pitch CMO Summit: Transparency, choice & control must be in hands of the consumer: Experts

At Pitch CMO Summit held in Chennai on Friday, a panel of marketing experts discussed the topic of 'Privacy vs Personalization'

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Oct 7, 2019 8:36 AM  | 7 min read
Pitch CMO Chennai

The Pitch CMO Chennai 2019 Summit held on Friday saw an interesting panel discussion on 'Privacy vs Personalization' chaired by Ramesh Jude Thomas, President & Chief Knowledge Officer, Equitor Value Advisory.

The panellists included Anand Santhanam, VP - Marketing and Business Development, TAFE; Anand Pathak, Chief Marketing Officer, Netmeds.com; Anurag Kumar, Chief Communications Officer, Tata Sky; P Madhavan, Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, TVS EUROGRIP; Rajasekar KS, GM – Marketing, matrimony.com; Shantanu Deshmukh, Vice President of Marketing, Xoxoday and Vijay Kaul, Deputy General Manager, Yamaha Motor India Sales.

The Session Chair began the session by pointing out that the issue of Privacy versus Personalization is currently a very volatile one. “This entire debate depends on which angle you're coming from,” he said.

Thomas touched on what he calls the 'privacy paradox', saying, “Customers want it most of all but the value of the service that they are going for outplays the immediate lack of consideration for privacy. So the convenience that you get from using it far outweighs the need for privacy.”

He then asked, “Consumers appear to always choose convenience over privacy, so are consumers guilty of outrage only when there is a breach of privacy?”
According to P Madhavan, Executive Vice President, Sales & Marketing, TVS EUROGRIP, “Personalisation works, but when does it take you out? That is where the consumers worry, they are very unsure. As marketers we have to reassure the consumer that it is just data that is being processed, so we can give them what's right for them and that it wouldn't be misused. How you do that is the challenge.”

Thomas asked whether it was hypocrisy for the consumer to be outraged when they are also looking for convenience.

Anurag Kumar, Chief Communications Officer, Tata Sky, said: “One thing that is important to recognise is that it is a value exchange. Personalisation is a value and you can exchange your data for what needs to be provided. When our customer comes on board, we ask what language they want o to interact with us in. We have that information along with which packs they have and the kind of channels they watch. We also have the ability to segment our advertising channel, which is a landing channel you see when you switch on the TV. If we are able to use the data for example, of a customer who says they want to interact in Tamil, and that customer is also watching Tamil channels regularly, if his landing channel shows ads only in Tamil, which is relevant to him and is relevant to an advertiser in this market, I think it's a win-win. For me, the entire debate starts to disappear.”

Thomas then turned the discussion to how negligent users can be when reading the terms and conditions while signing up for services. “When consumers themselves are myopic, is there a greater responsibility on marketers to be more careful?”

Rajasekar KS, GM – Marketing, matrimony.com, pointed out, “When it comes to the customer's convenience, they are willing to forego risks in return for what they need. The outrage comes only when there is a breach on a large scale. But on the organisational level, there needs to be greater transparency. Organisations need to be very open with what they are doing with data, they need to tell us how secure that data is and they need to tell us what they will give in terms of value for the data we have given them.”

Madhavan emphasised, “Mostly companies and corporations generally take care, but we need to worry about who is buying data. Google and Facebook wouldn't sell data to anybody who is asking for it. At least 90 per cent of corporations are responsible enough not to misuse data, but there is a small group of 5-10 per cent of corporations who would do so and that's where the problem is.”

On the topic of GDPR, Shantanu Deshmukh of Xoxoday explained, “We need to understand the law and its context. The law says, if you're approaching a stranger with a certain value proposition, it is upon you to establish enough context before you approach. So, if I am a marketer and I'm approaching someone in the US or in Europe, it is upon me to establish what it is I'm reaching out for, how did I get hold of your data and be upfront in my communication. As long as I'm clear on these points I still should be able to reach out to my audience and customise.”

Anand Pathak of Netmeds.com said, “While GDPR has been harsh on businesses, some of the research suggest that 79 per cent of people don't mind giving their data to a first-party for a personalised experience. When it comes to personalization I think we are way behind as an industry. The challenge that the industry is facing is that individuals and departments are not co-relating and actually giving the customer a rich experience of personalization. Because the digital economy is booming, it is the right time for the government to set up a policy. I believe when the government does form policy on data regulations it should also be business-friendly. Transparency, choice and control should be in the hands of the consumer.”

Anand Santhanam of TAFE said: “Consumers are more than willing to share data. They share data in trust with the belief that personalization that will come from the data will enhance your next buying experience. If your customer experience getting enhanced by sharing data, then the whole thing works perfectly.”

Vijay Kaul of Yamaha Motor India Sales added, “We marketers also have a bigger responsibility, we need to move away from making these marketing campaigns and use this personalised data for curating our products and making our better for the consumer. I think once we start doing this, customers will start building their trust in the brands. This discussion about privacy versus personalization will end.”

Thomas directed his next question to Deshmukh, asking, “As marketers, it is very unlikely that we would be as invasive with customers in real life, is it because it is online and you can do it surreptitiously, that we continue to do it?

Deshmukh replied, “It has always been that marketers and businesses have wanted to understand their customers. It is not the case that before the Internet businesses did not want to know about the customer. But when the marketing technology came in, in the last 5 years it has exploded. The technology has evolved and the paradigm of building a relationship with the customer is being dropped. Tracking the customer online is becoming easier, so that is why I think tracking the customer surreptitiously has picked up. And because of that transaction happening by the consumer online and the data getting captured, the relationship-building aspect is somehow not there anymore and that is the reason why it is easy for marketers to use the data they are tracking to promote rather than customise the offering itself.”

Adding to this, Anurag Kumar of Tata Sky said, “I think the question for marketers is how can they make it seamless without it looking like a chase. If the choice and the control is in the hands of the customer to ignore you and not act and yet it is seamlessly woven into the customer journey it’s not incorrect.”

Finally, Thomas asked the panel - how do marketers actually build trust in an environment where customers are feeling increasingly cheated and violated?

Kaul said, “Marketers need to bridge the gap between the consumer data and building the trust. Probably one of the ways to build trust is by doing away with such long terms and conditions and make it simple and upfront for the user to see and then click agree. Google research says only 3 per cent of Google users actually read the terms and conditions. One reason for this is because the terms and conditions are just too long and they have all been built to safeguard the service provider. Nobody cares about the customer. So once we give that confidence to the audience that all these services and data that we fuse are to be used for their betterment, I think this problem is going to be solved.”

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