I recently came across an article referring to 75% of data being ‘unusable’ following GDPR. The article is based on a study conducted among UK companies revealing that only 25% of existing customer data meets the requirements specified under the GDPR. With the EU approving GDPR to be implemented in the UK starting with May 2018, the usability of data is a hot topic among marketing professionals.

Essentially, the GDPR brings further clarifications to the current concept of “consent”, by stressing out the need of an explicit, freely given agreement given by subjects for their personal data to be processed. In the marketing area, this is further translated in the agreement of data being processed for marketing purposes. But what changes, then? Basically, besides the usual “opt-in consent” given by customers to be targeted for marketing purposes, also the “opt-out consent” has been further clarified, being now applicable to a wider extent of situations and circumstances than before.

The field of market research though, since being a domain dealing with the result of data processed for statistical purposes at an aggregate level (thus not personal data), is an exception from the new EU regulation. However, the Recital specifies that companies should further define and inform on the appropriate safeguards for assuring “statistical confidentiality.”

Moreover, the GDPR forbids gathering sensitive data (e.g. racial origin, political beliefs, health data) without receiving the “explicit consent” of the subject to do so. So, market researchers should pay further attention when conducting studies and addressing this type of topics in the materials built (e.g. questionnaires, discussion guides).
Another popular topic in the context of GDPR amongst market researchers is that of ‘profiling’. By this term, the EU means use of personal data to analyze or predict consumers behaviors, preferences and consumption patterns. In the area of market research though, GDPR brings further clarifications and allows data being processed, yet again, creating additional safeguards to protect individuals from this type of processing.

What do you think about the upcoming implementation of GDPR: is it a game changer for market researchers or a safe net for users on the already existing grounds? Feel free to comment on this blog post and let us know your thoughts.

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