According to a Pitney Bowes Survey: 36% of Consumers Will Not Share their Income Data; 76% Will Not Even Share their Political Affiliation

STAMFORD, Conn., May 31, 2012 - In a Pitney Bowes Inc. (NYSE: PBI) survey conducted in the US, France, Germany, and the UK, consumers indicated which items of personal information they are unwilling to share with businesses and authorities. The results outline four types of data, according to consumer perceptions. Marketers who may feel overwhelmed by big data may find guideposts to improved marketing results in these consumer perceptions.

The first type is transactional. This is data consumers commonly share and often as part of a basic transaction such as subscribing to a website, adding themselves to a mailing list or joining a social media community. Few consumers will withhold transactional data from a brand or organization. Percentage of respondents unwilling to share were: Date of Birth (10%); Postal Address (13%); Email (14%) and Bank Details (22%).

Consumers who will not share their height (22%), weight (24%) or home phone number (23%) were also a rather small group. This type of data is physical and, contrary to assumptions about vanity, are rather willingly shared by consumers.

The data group with the attribute of secure, is held more closely and shared more rarely with 36% of consumers unwilling to share their income; 38% unwilling to share their mobile phone number and 40% unwilling to share their credit card number.

Still, there is a more intimate level of data that covers attributes and beliefs. This data has a virtual lock and key around it and brands should be aware of the sensitivity consumers perceive around these. Political persuasion is none of your business according to 76% of consumers. Religion has 71% of consumers unwilling to share. Ethnicity is a taboo subject for 54% and sexual preference will not be shared by 45% of consumers polled.

According to a report from Forrester Research Inc., “when we look at consumer activity online, it is clear that although consumers worry about the collection and use of their online data, they will continue with online tasks and exchange their data if they perceive a benefit.”*

“Every marketer must begin with full compliance with all security and privacy regulations in his or her country. Beyond that, brands would do well to be aware of these consumer perceptions as they collect data across all channels,” said Dan Kohn, Vice President Corporate Marketing for Pitney Bowes Inc. “By honoring consumer sensitivities across these four archetypes of data, brand interactions should hit home and multi-channel marketing metrics may improve dramatically.”

Pitney Bowes helps businesses grow by communicating more effectively with their customers and prospects. With powerful new technologies that enable businesses to engage each customer individually, using whatever channel works best: web, mail, text or email, marketers improve customer loyalty and grow revenues for businesses with consumer brands.

To read the full report Getting to Know You, visit

For marketers taming big data for customer communications, Pitney Bowes recommends the following six steps:

  1. Ensure compliance with all local and federal data regulations and keep up with current legislation.
  2. Get the basics right (name, address etc) before trying to develop the customer relationship further.
  3. Be clear about your intention. Say why you would like to know more and explain the benefit of sharing the data to your customer.
  4. Understand the limits of your brand. Do customers come to you because you do a simple service well? If so, don’t attempt to create a bigger “customer experience” where it may not be necessary or valued.
  5. Don’t let data defeat you. Technology and support exists at every business level.
  6. Close the loop on communications. Use what comes back from customers to fuel further conversations and provide rewards to customers shared their data with you.

About Pitney Bowes

Delivering more than 90 years of innovation, Pitney Bowes provides software, hardware and services that integrate physical and digital communications channels. Long known for making its customers more productive, Pitney Bowes is increasingly helping other companies grow their business through advanced customer communications management. Pitney Bowes is a $5.3 billion company with 29,000 employees worldwide. Pitney Bowes: Every connection is a new opportunity™.

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Source: Forrester Research Report: How to Defuse Digital Marketing Privacy Concerns; Stay Ahead of Privacy Legislation by Creating a Value-for-Data Exchange. Published May 8, 2012.