Fears About Innovation Will Impact 87% of Global Consumers’ Purchase Decisions

Privacy is on shoppers' minds

An extensive report about attitudes toward innovation suggests that global brands should think twice about taking consumers' privacy for granted—even in a big-data era in which consumers seemingly are giving up more personal information than ever.

Sixty-six percent of consumers said privacy was their biggest concern when it comes to innovation, according to new stats from Edelman in a study called Earned Brand. The public relations giant also found that 87 percent of respondents said concerns about innovation—such as its impact on privacy, the environment and their individual security—will stop them from purchasing specific products.

"Consumers now need to be reassured about the concerns they have around innovations in order to see the advantages they can bring," said Richard Edelman, CEO of the New York-based company. "Where they have concerns are the trade-offs some of these innovations bring with them like the impact on their privacy and security and always having to be on."

At the same time, Edelman's firm learned that 92 percent of respondents believe innovation is an irreplaceable element to societal progress. So, given the delicate balance between consumers wanting innovation and valuing privacy, how should marketers proceed?

"It is not about the messaging—it's about how your brand behaves," Edelman contended. "Brands can run clinical trials or beta tests on their product innovations and make the test results publicly available for review, and they can partner with credible third parties, including academic institutions. But they also need to power the peer-to-peer conversations that consumers want. And they need to make it easy for consumers to review their products."

His company surveyed 10,000 consumers during April and May in 10 countries across five continents. Edelman also ran millennial focus groups in New York and London, and it conducted mobile diaries with 25 volunteers from the same generational group. 

Here are several more intriguing data points for the study, which is being officially unveiled at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity today:

  • Consumers are twice as likely to want to be reassured (66 percent) than inspired by brands (33 percent).
  • 60 percent of consumers communicated at least some distrust in advertising, saying that manipulations in ads leaves them unsure of what to believe.
  • 79 percent of consumers said it's the responsibility of business to push and steer innovation—and not academics/universities (36 percent) or individuals (30 percent).
  • Germans (76 percent) have the biggest issues with privacy and technology, closely followed by Americans (75 percent) and Australians (74 percent).
  • After privacy, the impact of innovation on the environment is the second most pressing concern among consumers, with 58 percent of respondents expressing concern about the subject.
  • 66 percent believe that business-led innovation is motivated first and foremost by the almighty dollar.
  • And two-thirds of respondents claimed to be bored/frustrated by the idea of upgrading products.