How Students’ Information Sensitivity, Privacy Trade-Offs, and Stages of Customer Journey Affect Consent to Utilize Personal Data

Ari V Alamäki, Marko Mäki, Janne Kauttonen
Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge, and Management  •  Volume 18  •  2023  •  pp. 127-147

This study aimed to increase our understanding of how the stages of the customer purchase journey, privacy trade-offs, and information sensitivity of different business service sectors affect consumers’ privacy concerns.

The study investigated young consumers’ willingness to provide consent to use their personal data at different phases of the customer journey. This study also examined their readiness to provide consent if they receive personal benefits, and how information sensitivity varied between different individuals and business sectors.

Data was collected by a quantitative survey (n=309) and analyzed with R using the Bayesian linear mixed effect modeling approach. The sample consisted of university students in Finland, who represented a group of young and digitally native consumers. The questionnaire was designed for this study and included constructs with primarily Likert-scale items.

The study contributed to data privacy and consent management research in information sensitivity, privacy trade-off, and the customer journey. The study underlined the need for a stronger user experience focus and contextuality.

The results showed that readiness to disclose personal data varied at different phases of the customer journey as privacy concerns did not decrease in a linear fashion throughout the purchase process. Perceived benefits affected the willingness to provide consent for data usage, but concerned consumers would be less trade-off oriented. Self-benefit was the most relevant reason for sharing, while customization was the least. There is a connection between the information sensitivity of different business sector information and privacy concerns. No support for gender differences was found, but age affected benefits and business sector variables.

The study recommends approaching consumers’ data privacy concerns from a customer journey perspective while trying to motivate consumers to share their personal data with relevant perceived benefits. The self-benefit was the most relevant benefit for willingness to provide consent, while customization was the least.

The study shows that individual preference for privacy was a major factor directly and via interaction for all three models. This study also showed that consumers’ subjective decision-making in privacy issues is both a situational and a contextual factor.

This study could encourage policymakers and societies to develop guidelines on how to develop privacy practices and consent management to be more user centric as individuals are increasingly concerned about their online privacy.

This study encourages examining consumers’ motivational factors to provide digital consent for companies with experimental research settings. This study also calls to explore perceived benefits in all age groups from the perspective of different information in various business sectors. This study shows that privacy concern is a contextual and situational factor.

data privacy, information sensitivity, privacy concern, trade-offs, customer journey
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