What’s the price of privacy?

By Alieke Stubbe

Every day we interact continuously with technology by using our smartphones, wearing activity trackers and being online every single moment of the day. Thanks to this, we get smart notifications and real-time information. Think about Google Calendar that tells you exactly when to leave for work based on real-time calculations. My Garmin tracks my activity every day and I just love the fact that I can follow my own activity and optimise my daily behaviour via a personal app.

Technologies enable us to do things we could not imagine a few years ago, but there are still some issues today. First of all, it’s not a seamless experience. We need PIN codes and passwords or have to carry extra devices, which can be rather messy. Overall, nothing is really connected and this creates a very fragmented experience. Secondly, the most important and biggest issue, it’s a blind spot. We don’t always know when we are disclosing information or what will be done with it. We have no control over our own information!

Imagine we could “uberize” the whole idea of data collection: what if humans could leverage and exploit all the data they are collecting anyway? Just like pretty much everyone can drive a car, what if everyone could make value of their own data? Moreover, how can the market research industry benefit more from technology and consumers’ addiction to track just about everything? How can we combine the value these technologies bring consumers with our need to collect data?

In comes the chip: a non-painful chip implant that can be (de)activated by the chip carrier every month. A chip so smart that it captures your behaviour, the brands you use, your emotions, moods, thoughts and attitudes. A chip that can connect with your debit card, smartphone, car and even your home security system. A chip that uploads all data in real time. All these metrics are tracked and can be used anonymously for commercial purposes (like in traditional market research).
And what’s in it for you, the chip carrier? The chip provides you with the ultimate personal coach! You can set personal goals according to your weight or your activity level. You can get personalized working schedules, spending alerts and so on. Companies can offer you customized services and products based on your data (e.g. bank accounts, insurances, etc.). And all this very conveniently and seamlessly. Above all, you are the one in charge of your data, you decide when you want to share your personal information and to whom.

Think about it, no more self-reported data, no more ad-hoc set-ups, no more ‘annoying’ questionnaires. Think about real-time human data and having access to everything consumers do, think and feel. This way we can move from researching to monitoring. Furthermore, we can forget about looking at the what, who, how and when questions; the chip will tell us everything. The only thing we still need to figure out is the WHY, why do consumers do what they do?

So what do you think? What would you want in return for sharing everything you do, think and feel? How much would you want for having a (market research) chip implanted in your wrist, tracking every movement? What price would you want for giving up your privacy? 10 000 euro a year? 500 euro for every month you share your data? Would you have your studies paid in exchange for sharing all your data during those studies? What would be a fair transaction between research agency and participant?
Alieke joined InSites Consulting as a Qualitative Research Consultant, after completing a Master’s degree in industrial psychology & human resources and a Postgraduate degree in marketing management. As part of the InSites Consulting Technology & Services team, she is currently working for a range of local and global clients. With this idea on the future of market research she was rewarded with the Febelmar Young Talent Award at the annual Febelmar Congress in Brussels.