Serial entrepreneur. CEO&Founder of Mirai Flights, a service for instant booking of charter flights. Founder & Owner of Aim of Emperor Group
The era of user privacy is here to stay. According to Pew research, 72% of Americans believe that almost all their online activity is being tracked, and because of this, there is a growing concern about how data from online activity is analyzed and harvested. Many witnessed the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal unfold, where personal data from millions of profiles were collected without consent to help target political ads. This helped highlight legitimate concerns about what data is being collected, how it’s being processed and what the benefits are to the consumer.
These pressures have led to an upheaval in legislative changes in the public sector—from the Guide to the U.K. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) to the Brazilian General Data Protection Law (LGPD)—with many other actions continuing to be implemented across the world on a smaller scale.
As a part of this, I see luxury consumer brands, as well as others, trying to be good citizens by approaching data privacy deliberately with a look to safety and privacy. However, it does not appear wholly sufficient. Currently, legal privacy compliance is usually delegated to lawyers and IT executives. While often well-intentioned domain experts, they are not consumer-experience or brand-equity experts. Many lawyers and IT executives have a corporate standpoint of increasing short-term ROI and playing the data privacy game. This approach puts your long-term brand reputation at risk in the digital era.
The digital ecosystem’s thrall of overactivity and service offerings lead to the same key message: User data collection is overly intrusive in its current state. Many users do not understand how their data is being collected, used and segmented to enhance marketing efforts. When it comes to the luxury market, data from across social media—on luxury forums and influencers’ feeds—are a part of this.
Previously, brands tracked consumers on their browsing habits across multiple domains/apps and packaged them up to sell to marketers to target. Now, steps have been taken to improve users’ access to their data through the above-mentioned acts and regulations as well as through changes to pop-ups, privacy notifications and unsubscribing services. This means data can be stored, owned and deleted for each individual, yet a lot of targeting for marketers is still overall dependent on identifiers from browsing habits.
According to the ICO, “You should not process personal data if it is insufficient for its intended purpose.” So at what point do we identify a minimum amount of data to fulfill our needs? With tech giants withholding unrivaled volumes of data, it is up to marketers to decide whether a foreseeable event may be appropriate to justify keeping existing data sets for future use.
General data protection regulations stipulate that consent needs to be given in order to securely retain data, yet the seductive quality of many luxury brands profiles has in the past relied on this type of data collection since things like pop-ups are disruptive and cheapen the look of a site—hence why I try to keep my company’s profile clean for the exploring onlooker. There is a sort of Catch-22 where you can choose between sacrificing a premium experience in order to collect data or maintaining the experience and forsaking precise targeting.
But with these new restrictions and compromises, I believe brands need to start relying less on hyper-targeted marketing and more on relationship building. In a previous article, I touched upon buyer behaviors and the decisions of Gen Z audiences. Interestingly, in a study taken from Forrester (paywall), they noted that Italy had the highest percentage (download required) of buyers declaring corporate social responsibility as the most important decision influencing their buying habits. This can work to your benefit if you choose to be responsible with consumer data.
The luxury industry has spent years trying to convince premium, lifestyle and luxury clients to invest in digital. However, if we are unable to retain our efficacy through digital, a new approach must be found. We have an increasing reliance on automation and algorithms across key ad platforms that can help find users based on predictive algorithms and contextual targeting.
The wealth of data that exists means there are still huge opportunities for luxury brands to offer targeted personalization whilst adhering to privacy regulations. The growing sophistication of compliance means consumers might be hesitant to share data and are concerned about its purpose, but the good news is that collaboration—combined with smart investments in digital brand protection—can prevent data leaks and protect profits while offering the opportunity to tailor marketing and enhance the luxury experience.