Understand the 21st Century Customer

In Spring 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes effect, which empowers EU citizens to move all the data they have at various providers, for example at Amazon, Vodafone, etc., to one place and ask other providers to erase their data. Companies will no longer get away with merely providing a binary yes-or-no consent at the initial point of collection and to ensure information exchange, companies must come up with new ways to do business with their customers.

October 2017

A New Approach to the Personal Data Economy

In a recent survey of 1,500 British consumers, it was discovered that 50% were leaning toward reclaiming their information. When companies next year come looking for permission to use their European customers’ data, the answer may well be “no.”

A great challenge ahead may lie in the anticipated consumer data wars that will arise between the companies that customers trust enough to compile their personal data and the companies forced to let their data go. The “haves” will be able to keep customising and improving their offerings to EU citizens using more data than they ever dreamed accessible. At the other end of the spectrum, new products and services sold by “have-nots” will likely emerge slowly or miss the mark entirely because of the lack of insight into evolving customer needs and tastes.

But more will change than most companies expect. Over the past twelve months, there has been signifi¬cant momentum in terms of personal data stores that provide individuals with a place to store and control how a copy of their data is used; something in the direction of a “data safe” provided by a bank. In addition, government initiatives have been established to encourage organisations to give individuals a copy of the data about them.

Clearly, one of the missing elements of the dialogue around personal data is how to effectively engage the individual and give them a voice and tools to express choice and control over how data about them is used. There is a big opportunity for companies to start thinking about this.

Market based mechanisms like this have the potential to give the individuals a real voice in how personal data is governed, though consumer take-up remains a challenge.

A new approach to the Personal Data Economy:

  1. REQUESTING PARTY Companies who want to access data about individuals can request it through data agents
  2. PERSONAL DATA STORE Several data stores are now up and running allowing individuals to exercise control over how data about them is used
  3. DATA HANDBANK Several governments are working with the private sector to give individuals access to a copy of data about them in a usable format which can then be stored in their locker and shared with other providers

World Economic Forum (2017) Unlocking the Value of Personal Data: From Collection to Usage. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 25 September 2017]; Mennesson, T. (2017) The Coming Consumer Data Wars, SMR, 02 Aug.


Referenced techniques



Co-creation is one of the most powerful ways to engage customers and deliver unique value. Using illustrative case studies, the concept explains how companies and customers can co-construct products, services and experiences.


Consumer Behaviour

Understanding consumer behaviour has significant bearing on marketing and public relations decisions. The concept reviews a number of issues related to consumer behaviour and organisational responses and will help you to enhance your marketing campaigns to successfully connect with consumers.


Information Database Marketing

Information databases can be used for a range of purposes, including accounting, planning, banking, manufacturing, or marketing. The concept describes an information database from the marketing perspective, and provides a description, business uses, and other tools that can assist professionals and managers to better understand it.

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