Brand trust and attitude to personal data contrasts among SEA consumers

Despite spending around 6.7 hours online, Singaporeans are failing to see the value exchange from sharing personal data. This was according to a study by Kantar TNS, which added that Singaporeans are also sceptical of brand motivations.

According to the findings, Singaporeans are cautious about how much of their personal data they share online despite the benefits that can be delivered through sharing data. 43% of Singaporean consumers were found to object to connected devices monitoring their activities even if it means making their lives easier. Moreover, over half (51%) of Singaporeans have concerns about the amount of personal data that brands have on them, compared to 33% across the region.

Singaporeans are becoming increasingly aware of the price they are paying for their connected lifestyles, and many feel on the losing end of an unfair exchange.

In Indonesia, optimism around connectivity is still high, with only 22% of Indonesians having concerns about the amount of personal data brands have on them. Meanwhile, only 15% of consumers in Indonesia were adverse to connected devices monitoring their activities online if it makes their lives easier.

“For the most part, consumers in Indonesia have not yet realised the trade-offs intrinsic to a connected lifestyle that has caused other countries to become more cynical about the way companies are using the personal information,” the report added.

Brand trust varies from country to country

Findings of the study also showed that trust in brands varies significantly between markets. In Singapore, consumers are cynical of brands, with only around one third (35%) trusting global brands.

The study also showed that trust in brands varies significantly between markets. In Singapore, consumers are cynical of brands, with only a third of consumers (35%) trusting global brands. However in emerging markets such as Vietnam, 54% of consumers remain trusting of these brands. Similarly for Indonesia, almost half of consumers (47%) trust large global brands.

The study added that Singaporeans do not trust the content they are consuming online, with only 16% of connected consumers considering social media content to be reliable. One in three (36%) Singaporeans also have concerns about how much control the social media networks have over the content viewed on their social media feeds.

According to the study, Indonesian consumers are also more accepting of content online. The study found 61% of connected consumers in Indonesia being happy to trust the information they consume on these channels. The study added that social media remains a credible place to hear brand messages, which are generally seen to have relevance. This is particularly if they demonstrate an understanding of local culture and nuances.

Singaporeans “ambivalent” on the matter of chatbots

The Kantar TNS study said that Singaporeans are “currently ambivalent” on the matter of chatbots. While 34% of those survey said that would accept interacting with an AI-powered machine such as a chatbot, if it meant their query was dealt with more quickly, a similar number (35%) express objection to using one.

Consumers surveyed also feel increasingly distracted and harassed by technology and its advances. This was according to 36% of 16 to 24 year olds surveyed in Singapore who are of the view that they use their mobile phones too frequently. As for e-commerce, only one in four (24%) of Singaporeans surveyed said that are willing to pay for products using their mobile phone.

“However the success of cashless legacy systems such as NETS and credit cards mean that the benefits of next generation mobile payments are not notable enough to entice people to start using them,” the report explained.

Indonesia’s mobile-first environment has also resulted in consumers who are more willing to try newer forms of interaction with brands, the study said. The study found 45% of consumers happy to interact with chatbots online, with only 17% saying that they want brands to have an offline presence.

According to Kantar TNS, this might be due to the “sprawling geography” of the Indonesian archipelago, which means that offline customer service is sometimes hard to access, so advances in online customer service are a welcome development.

“This acceptance of AI-powered interaction is far higher than in other countries in the region. In Korea for example, 37% say that brands need to have an offline presence to keep them satisfied,” the report added.

In a statement to Marketing, Nishant Kaushal, managing director Singapore, Kantar TNS said that while Singaporeans are one of the most tech-savvy consumers in Asia, they are not automatically open to engaging with brands via digital channels.

“People have experienced the intrusive nature of marketing and advertising approaches for a number of years now, and as a result, are cynical of how brands behave online,” Kausal explained.

He added that consumers are more likely to share personal data if it is clear how they are benefiting from the relationship. This varies from remembering preferences to make their lives easier, to curating a personalised experience. With the Personal Data Protection Act coming into effect in Singapore, brands need explicit permission to hold personal data. As such, it is now even more important to be transparent.

“The rapid evolution of technology is enabling brands to develop better, smoother customer service experiences, but poor deployment or a failure to meet basic needs can erode consumers’ trust and confidence in brands,” Kausal added.

Also weighing on the matter was Michael Nicholas, global lead of connected Solutions, Kantar TNS, who said to build and protect trust, brands need to put the customer first. This means understanding their motivations and understanding the right moments to engage with them. Marketers also need to respecting their consumer’s time as valuable, and being more transparent about how and when they collect and use their personal data.

“Above all, that means putting the customer first – something that many marketers have forgotten to do,” Nicholas said.

With regards to countries such as Indonesia, Kausal said that rising levels of connectivity are linking new groups of people to brands. For many, the interactions are still novel and exciting, and consumers can feel the value that comes from this engagement. He said:

Brands in Indonesia are still in the honeymoon period with consumers.

However, Kausal said that it is a balancing act as it is clear that brands have "overstepped the mark" in other countries through overbearing ad campaigns and irrelevant content.

"It’s vital that brands in Indonesia don’t abuse this position of trust and instead focus on how they can make every interaction valuable and beneficial to the consumer," Kausal said.

The Kantar TNS Connected Life 2017 study surveyed 70,000 people across 56 countries and conducted 104 in-depth interviews. The research explored consumer trust in brands in relation to four themes: technology, content, data, and e-commerce.

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