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Companies are stashing customer data to fight new privacy protections

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Customer data // Illustration by Kate Walker

Companies are stashing customer data to fight new privacy protections

 

The Future. As data privacy protections ramp up, companies are starting to use contests, giveaways, loyalty programs, polls, and newsletters (yes! Even newsletters!) to capture customer data and create a trove of information for advertising. But, even though it’s more work upfront, amassing data directly may be responsible for saving these companies millions of dollars over time, potentially shifting the power balance away from Big Tech.

Know your customer
With blanket data privacy becoming a bonafide movement, companies are coming up with every strategy imaginable to capture information about their customers.

  • Miller High Life is collecting customer data (emails, birthdays, phone numbers, etc.) through online giveaways — a sort of “trade me your data for this branded patio set.”
  • Chili’s Grill and Bar has a loyalty program that collects “50 different bits of data,” such as what customers order. It can then tailor ads, coupons, or giveaways to their tastes or preferences.
  • Avocados From Mexico is creating a trove of data through a contest to win a truck. People enter by scanning a QR code, which the nonprofit then connects to names and email addresses.

PepsiCo Inc., which has already amassed 75 million customer records, says the in-house data collection has saved the company tens of millions of dollars in digital ad buys.

Blocked
The ultimate goal for many companies is to collect what is called the “golden record,” which could include hundreds of data points on customers — including what stores people visit, what they buy, and how much they typically spend.

So, why the sudden rush to collect data themselves? With Apple having recently allowed users to opt-out of tracking (which they do 82% of the time), Google abandoning third-party cookies in 2023, and California and Europe having passed legislation to automatically protect user data, many companies know there’s a ticking clock to collect as much as possible before it’s too late.