Consumer Privacy & Participation in Marketing Research: Issues & Challenges

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  • 0:03 Market Research
  • 0:42 Consumer Participation
  • 1:30 Reaching Out to Customers
  • 2:43 Privacy Issues
  • 3:30 Challenges
  • 4:37 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

After completing this lesson, you'll learn how important it is to protect the privacy of any participants in market research. You'll also learn about the challenges that you need to consider as you are planning your market research.

Market Research

88 percent of consumers say they don't do business with a company if their privacy isn't protected. Consumer privacy is a big issue for companies when they perform market research or any activity that involves gathering information from consumers. If your company is doing market research, or finding out what people want and like, then protecting the privacy of those people involved is critical to the success of your company.

For this lesson, let's imagine that you are performing market research for a craft store. You specifically want to find out what products your customers are looking for but can't find at your store.

Consumer Participation

There are different ways in which consumers can participate in various market research projects. Websites, for example, conduct market research continually as visitors browse different pages on the site. Websites can track which pages are seen, how long the visitor stayed on each page, where the visitor came from, and what device and browser the visitors are using. This information helps determine what content is most useful or of interest to its readers. Retailers with a physical store location may perform market research by asking its customers to answer a brief questionnaire. Some retailers include a code on the receipt so customers can call in and give their feedback. Sometimes, these receipts offer customers a free item in exchange for their feedback.

Reaching Out to Customers

Customer Surveys

To conduct market research for the craft store, you decide to ask each customer during checkout if there are any products they are looking for but couldn't find. To protect the privacy of your customers, you make sure that no personally identifiable information is taken. For example, the information given to the cashier is not stored with any customer accounts. Instead, it's kept in a completely separate account so customers can't be linked to any of the answers.

Tracking Customer Accounts

While the market research of your craft store isn't too risky for your customers, there are other types of market research that can be a bit more intrusive. Observational market research is where a customer's actions are tracked. For these types of market research, it's critical for you to respect your customer's private information. For example, Internet search engines typically collect information on what you search for and when. Sometimes, this information is very sensitive, such as searching for a medical issue. If privacy is not respected, information can be used to discriminate against certain people. Imagine a user searching for information about a certain medication. If a potential employer has access to this private information, they may discriminate against that user because of their medical condition.

Privacy Issues

One very big issue when it comes to consumer privacy is that of identity theft. If personally identifiable information is easily accessible or accessible to too many people, it's much easier for hackers and thieves to get to that information. If consumer privacy is not respected, consumers will leave or avoid companies that don't have clear privacy policies.

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