The stark warning, delivered by market research agency fast.Map, is contained in its Annual Marketing-GAP Tracker Report, published today.
According to the research, marketers consistently under-estimate the level of consumer concern regarding the use of contact details and the unauthorised distribution of such information to third parties, say the report’s authors.
Most consumers “don’t bother to even read the opt-out box” and the report’s authors warn that the forthcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation “could spell instant death to third-party data collection companies and an end to prospect-driven direct marketing”.
Based on the responses of two panels – 1180 consumers and 310 marketers –fast.Map found that marketing respondents shockingly “underestimated by up to 100% all consumers’ areas of concern”.
For example, 85% of consumer respondents said they would be “concerned” or “very concerned” if their details were passed to another organisation but only 45% of marketers surveyed thought consumers might see this as a problem.
In addition, 83% of consumer respondents said they’d be worried if an organisation didn’t keep the promises it had made in its permission statement and again 45% of marketers surveyed failed to appreciate the depth of consumer feeling on this issue.
More worryingly for the DM industry is that only 6% of consumers in the survey would opt-in to receive marketing messages from all the companies that currently contact them, although 19% of marketers thought they’d be willing to receive offers about future products and services.
With the swing towards permission-based marketing now a reality for all companies, audience and customer segments expect to receive something in return for the use of their data, such as generous discounts, special offers and samples.
Marketers can’t now take opt-in as a default position, even where there’s an existing business relationship unless there’s something of value delivered as a result of wanting to maintain contact with the customer.
“This is the new battleground of marketing and there’ll be a huge growth in compliance and helping marketers gain consent,” predicts David Cole, managing director at fast.MAP.
He added that marketers would have to deploy skills of “analysis, copy writing and creativity to engage people on that new battleground”.
It’s clearly a training issue that the marketing industry needs to face up to in order to avoid the sanctions for breach of the forthcoming EU Regulation that could be up to 5% of global turnover or €100m in fines for the biggest offenders.