How to ensure trust in engaging with consumers in a digital world ?

How to ensure trust in engaging with consumers in a digital world ?
How can companies avoid consumer unease when using technologies that observe their behaviour in stores such as via smartphone tracking or facial recognition? How can companies maintain trust with their consumers when they combine ‘big data’ from loyalty cards and instore transactions, social media and mobile behaviour for predictive analysis in order to target one-to-one promotions specific for their location and context ?
Companies are struggling with these major issues, which have been brought to the public’s attention by the increasing number of high-profile digital data accidents – involving data breaches and privacy risks that negatively influence consumer trust. This controversy (magnified by the “Snowden effect”) has led to consumers being hyper aware of data tracking and mining. This has not only impact on the individual companies involved but also the consumer goods and retail industry at large.
It’s a very fine line: companies can attract their customers by personally engaging with them – but when they go too far, they trespass this thin line, and it can backfire, since consumers perceive this as threatening. We still live in a ‘digital wild west’ world, and companies are finding this out the hard way.
As a result, increasingly governmental bodies are stepping in with regulations. The question is whether that’s helping consumers in being served better, since many of these regulations will constrain companies to add relevant value in the way they can better engage with their customers.
The industry should take its own responsibility to establish and drive a set of commonly agreed principles to raise and maintain the level of trust with consumers. The goal is to have consumers view the industry as a responsible user and steward of consumer data and insights – thus forming the common foundation from which the digitally enabled value exchange can be optimized by individual companies. This should protect its ability to create mutual value in digital consumer engagement.
How can this be realised ? By broad and collective action, leveraging an ecosystem of governmental bodies, industry bodies, companies (retailer and manufacturers) and consumers. By establishing easy-to-implement, non-competitive guidelines. By common agreements on data protection and disposition and by putting focus on factors like simplicity, consumer centricity, consistency and continuous consumer relevance and value.
The Consumer Goods Forum, along with Capgemini, have launched the “Consumer Engagement Principles” initiative, which is backed by the top 50 CEOs of the consumer product goods industry to address these issues.
The publicly available ‘Consumer Engagement Principles’ outline-report addresses how the industry can work together to create a set of “Consumer Engagement Principles” – or guidelines – to help businesses navigate the ever complex and evolving data landscape and how industry collaboration can help restore consumer trust.
This initiative is calling for more influencers and industry players to take part of this ecosystem. When you are interested, please contact or

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