NEW RESEARCH: Insights on the Future of Data Sharing

November 19, 2015

The high pitched fervor over ‘big data’ has died down a bit, but only because companies are more focused on putting their noses to the grind stone to determine how to more effectively collect and analyze data, of all sizes, to improve their business performance.

The Center on Global Brand Leadership, in conjunction with the Aimia Institute, conducted a global study of more than 8,000 consumers to look deeper into the types of data consumers choose to share with companies, and what factors drive their willingness to share this data.

We encourage you to examine our full report, What Is the Future of Data Sharing?, which offers information and insights on consumer attitudes towards data sharing, how those views are affected by industry category and country, and how brand trust positively impacts a willingness to share data.

In this piece, I will highlight three particular areas to help businesses think more strategically about how to better influence their customers to share data, and create more meaningful relationships with them.

1. The Four Data-Sharing Mindsets of Consumers

My co-author, David Rogers, and I wanted to better understand how certain attitudes towards data sharing might help predict which segments of consumers are more willing to share data. Through a factor analysis we were able to effectively split our respondents along two differentiating attitudes:

  • Defensive attitude axis
    This categorized consumers according to whether or not they had: 1) made up personal details to avoid giving away real information, or 2) had taken steps to limit companies from tracking them online.
  • Sharing attitude axis
    This categorized consumers according to their attitude towards sharing personal information to receive relevant offers and discounts.

Within those differentiated attitudes, we further identified four data-sharing mindsets:

  • Defender (43% of survey participants): Consumers who are not happy to share and are guarded against companies asking for their data.
  • Savvy and in control (24% of survey participants): Consumers who are happy to share, while keeping control of how much, when, and with whom.
  • Resigned (23% of survey participants): Consumers who are not guarded, but aren’t happy about sharing, either.
  • Happy go lucky (10% of survey participants): Consumers who are not guarded against sharing their data and are happy to do so.



[Click here for the full infographic.]

One of the surprising things we found was that 70% of the people who are happy to share their data for relevant value from a company are also taking defensive actions at times to protect the data they share. Being attentive about one’s data and being happy to share it are not mutually exclusive.

Most interestingly, among all four Mindsets these “protective but happy to share” consumers – the Savvy and In Control mindset – are more comfortable with how companies handle their data, more willing to share various data points, and more influenced by brand trust.

While we are wary of making predictions of generational attitudes into the future, we do believe that the impact of growing up in a hyper-connected society will remain as generations grow older. Given this, the much larger percentage of Millennials and Generation X members in the Savvy and In Control mindset should offer companies hope for building stronger consumer relationships over time.

What is the takeaway for companies? In order to build a “win-win” scenario with your customers when it comes to collecting their data, a company must provide transparency about how they are using data and also give consumers a level of control on how they choose to share their data. In addition, companies must demonstrate how customers will get value from sharing non-required data points.

2. People Do See Value in Traditional Loyalty Program Offers

Not surprisingly, consumers show clear interest in traditional loyalty/rewards program offers and benefits.



[Click here for full infographic.]

Sharing an e-mail address in return for an offer was by far the most common piece of data consumers were willing to share, and this was true across all age demographics. When looking towards the future, however, we found that younger generations – Millennials and Generation X – were up to twice as likely to share other non-required types of data. For example, 23% of Millennials and 16% of Generation X were willing to share their mobile phone data, as averaged across all 10 offers, while only 11% of Boomers and 8% of the Silent Generation were willing to do so.

As the data shows, consumers report greater interest in offers that are more direct and financial in nature – rewards, cash back, coupons – but a majority do also show interest in offers that are less direct and more experiential  – recommendations and tools to help them make decisions. Given this, firms have a real opportunity to seek information from their own customers and develop personalized offers that match the interests of different groups of customers – sometimes at lower costs than promotional efforts with financial incentives.

3. New Kinds of Data-Enabled Benefits Present Future Possibilities

To better understand where the future might lie for companies, we also wanted to examine new kinds of value that are being developed out of personal data sharing efforts. Netflix and Amazon, for example, spurred the use of aggregated customer data to improve individual user experiences through product recommendations. And services such as Mint and Billguard are compiling financial information and providing insights back to consumers in order to help them make better decisions and protect against fraudulent or unauthorized finance charges.

We classified these new efforts as “data-enabled benefits” and asked respondents how likely they were to be interested in exchanging non-required personal data for such offers.



[Click here for the full infographic.]

Given the fact that these new types of benefits entered the marketplace in just the past few years, we were encouraged that many consumers already agree that there is an interesting value exchange to be had by exchanging their data in return for these benefits.

Once again, the Savvy and In Control mindset shows the greatest affinity towards sharing data in exchange for these new kinds of benefits:



As firms constantly aim to innovate and develop creative new experiences for customers, this data points to a clear opportunity for them. Companies can build their brand and strengthen customer relationships by crafting value-added features for customers that are developed by analyzing and sharing insights on the very data that they hope consumers will share with them.

As Prof. Michael Schrage from MIT has nicely phrased it, “Making customers better makes better customers…. Customers need to learn from you almost as much as you need to learn from customers. Serious customer experience design debates in organizations should focus almost as much on customer learning as customer delight.”



September 22, 2015

This post first appeared on the AIMIA Institute blog.

This is the second part of a two-part series. Click here to view part one.

Over the past decade, literally hundreds of start-up companies and established tech leaders have built free streaming and subscription services for music. With good reason, since in 2015 alone over one trillion songs have been streamed. Google and Amazon joined the fray a few years ago, but the big mainstream splash occurred this summer with the launch of Apple Music. Even casual music fans are now aware they have options to sign up not just for free internet radio, but also for paid subscription music services.

Although it almost seems silly to wonder whether today’s streaming music business models will last, I felt for years that their financial stability was not necessarily secure. So, I feel the question is worth asking.

First of all, it is not a good sign that musicians are aggravated about how they are being compensated. Artists have been making headlines by rebuffing the tiny royalty payments they receive from such services. The biggest news was Taylor Swift pulling out of Spotify, and a range of star-studded performers, led by Jay-Z, are re-launching their own subscription platform, Tidal, with the promise that a greater share of revenue would go to recording companies and artists.

Subscription streaming in France

There is a need to take a deeper look at the financials behind these services. Let us say that the word “obtuse” is a generous way of defining the transparency of these deals. When I sent a musician friend of mine this Ernst & Young analysis of how Spotify in France splits its revenue, he remarked, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” The music labels, as before, take in the majority of post-tax revenue.

Where is the money in music?

Most artists receive fractions of a penny on every track played, but almost none of the streaming music services are yet making any profit. Plus, there are lawsuits and regulatory changes (here and here) that could make the financials even more challenging. The deals Apple Music made with the labels are actually under investigation, because of the possibility that some provisions could be anti competitive.

Despite all of this, a big-picture look at U.S. music revenues (2014 RIAA Music Industry Shipment and Revenue Statistics) makes it clear why this model is here to stay. The growth rate of streaming services has been extremely rapid, nearly tripling between 2011 and 2014. Next year, streaming services will likely provide a larger percentage of music revenue than physical music sales. If these “disruptive” services are now the second-largest source of revenue for the music industry, they are not likely to disappear anytime soon.

As streaming use has grown, physical and digital download sales have shrunk, and the overall revenue for the music industry has plummeted. This decline has less to do with these new forms of legally purchasing, or listening to music, than with the opportunities to easily “share” music via the Internet. Not to mention numerous years of an economic downturn and the simultaneous growth of other forms of digital entertainment that grab people’s eyes, ears, and cash.

Since 1973, the peak of the industry in the United States occurred during 1994 through 2000, with the average American spending $60 to $70 per year on music. At present, that number is down to close to $20.


Consumers adopt paid entertainment services

In the midst of this, I believe that the subscription model actually offers hope for the industry. Marketers seeking to understand the potential future behavior of the music audience can see signs of the future in other entertainment media.

A majority of the U.S. public is now accustomed to paying for cable TV, Internet service, and mobile phone service, with streaming video services about to hit mass market adoption as well. Subscription service competition is rampant, so there is a real possibility that a majority of households in the country will set up a subscription streaming music service as part of their annual entertainment spend.

To grow users, the services will need to add pricing tiers at the lower and higher ends. This could start, for example, at $4.99/month with some restrictions (and/or some ads). Higher prices could be charged for added services (e.g., Tidal offers a $19.99/mo. option for lossless quality audio).

The ad-supported streaming music model of the future may not look quite like it does today, depending on regulatory decisions, lawsuits, and future licensing negotiations, but with Pandora now generating $1 billion in annual revenue and building a loyal brand following, it is hard to believe that the model will disappear either.

After years of thinking that this unlimited access to music was too good to last, I’m now wiping my brow and smiling. But I have knocked on wood, as well, just to be safe.

What can marketers outside the music world glean from this industry and apply to their own? The music streaming sector has evolved greatly over the last decade, and industry leaders now offer an increasingly personalized experience. Spotify offers their subscribers “Discover Weekly” which is an ultimate personalized playlist based on recommendations from analyzing listening history. With such advanced capabilities for marketers to collect data about their customers, they are able to offer truly personalized and customized experiences like never before.

Examine your business to see if you can encourage customers to move past the ownership model to a “renting” or subscribing one. The rise of the sharing economy shows us that this model has become more prominent. How might a similar disruptive innovation change your industry?



September 22, 2015

This post first appeared on the AIMIA Institute blog.music_streaming_logos_back

Back in 2005, I discovered Rhapsody, a first-of-a-kind subscription-based music streaming service, and my jaw dropped. What? For the same money I spent buying just one album every month, I can listen to every new album that came out that month, as well as a catalog of almost every album ever released.

So, for the past decade, I have easily perused music of all kinds, checking out knowns and unknowns.

Right now, for example, I am taking a quick listen to some of the latest album releases, from Tame Impala’s Currents — I appreciate that the song craft is not predictable, but it is too produced for me — to Future’s DS2 — good grooves, but I am turned off by misogynistic lyrics — to Wilco’s Star Wars — a favorite band of mine and a nice new album.

With the launch of Apple Music in July, this kind of offering fully hit the mainstream, but the evolution of streaming music to this point provides a fascinating look at the psychology of consumers, brand building, and how this business model is affecting music industry.

I am Not Buying It

I am a big fan of music and established many friendships, both offline and online, through this shared passion. Once I discovered Rhapsody in 2005, I was thrilled to spread the word to all of these friends. To my surprise, however, they did not buy into my excitement.

“So, do you own the albums?” my friends would ask.

“Well, no,” I would reply. “But as long as you pay your monthly fee, you continue to have access to everything, and there is rarely an album I can’t find on Rhapsody.”

Their typical response: “Hmmm. Sounds interesting, but I am not sure I need it.”

Mind you, this was coming from people that likely spent over $100 a year purchasing music, whether CDs or mp3s. There was psychological resistance to paying for access to an album without getting ownership. People were comfortable relinquishing ownership for other types of long-form media, whether borrowing books from a library or renting movies from Blockbuster, but they could not buy into this idea for music.

Unlike most books and movies, songs and albums are listened to over and over again, so the value of ownership is driven by both emotional and functional benefits. I believe people also were skeptical that a service like Rhapsody would even last. So, they preferred the idea of buying one new album each month that they could listen to forever (if they liked it), rather than paying each month for unlimited access to millions of albums because of the perceived potential of losing that access at any time.

In 2006, though, one brand changed the model for streaming music, Pandora. Because it mimicked the radio model, Pandora fit an existing expectation of “temporary” music access. Pandora took the radio listening experience to a new level with personalization. Once you picked a single song, album, or artist, Pandora produced a stream of music matching that style. Like radio, all you had to do was suffer through a few ads.

Pandora is not designed for users to select and immediately listen to any particular song or album, but without any fee (and no DJ chatter), people were happy to have a cool, new passive listening experience using the web.

Brand Building Changes the Game

Is it better to be a first mover or a fast follower? The streaming music model offers an interesting case study on this oft-debated question.

Rhapsody_App_badge_loRhapsody was developed and launched independently in 2001, but it was acquired in 2003 by RealNetworks, a pioneer in developing the capability to steam audio and video content over the internet. Despite creating an innovative model for listening to music, with licenses from all the major record labels, Rhapsody could not escape the shadow of iTunes, which launched that same year.

By October 2003, Apple’s iTunes, originally developed for the iPod, was also compatible with the Windows operating system and everyone with a computer could own digital music with a few clicks. By combining an easy way to purchase music “by the drink” through iTunes with the iPod, the portable music device of choice, Apple usurped any earned attention that might have come to Rhapsody, even though Rhapsody offered users the ability to purchase and own most of its licensed songs and albums, as well its subscription model. Without an investment in marketing and PR dollars to truly compete with iTunes, Rhapsody continued to trudge along in relative obscurity, gradually growing a small user base.

spotify-update-app-iconOther entrepreneurs were spurred by the possibilities of streaming music. Spotify, launched in Sweden in October 2008, smartly combined the ad-based and subscription models. This allowed it to grow large numbers of casual users who were willing to submit to ads and some service limitations, while also gaining more dedicated music fans willing to pay for full capabilities and no ads.

By 2011, Spotify was available throughout most of Europe and the United States. It not only surpassed Rhapsody in its number of subscription users, but also boasted another three to four times as many registered users who picked a free option.

Rhapsody was run by an older Web 1.0 team, who had likely become risk averse after the dotcom bubble burst. Rhapsody management focused on a stable, buyer-only business model with modest growth expectations. Spotify was developed by experienced entrepreneurs whose business model and growth plan were driven by VC funding and the goal of a high valuation based on rapid user growth and buzz. The Spotify team employed Web 2.0 principles: a freemium model, active social media integration, an open programming interface (API), and a budget for marketing, PR, and advertising.

Rhapsody was a first-mover, but it did not do much to build a brand, while Spotify—although it came later—proudly waved its flag as a disruptive agent that would transform the way music was consumed. That message got the tech startup community and its growing user base to spread the word along with Spotify. Today, Rhapsody has around 2.5 million paid users while Spotify has around 20 million paid subscribers and an additional 55 million active users of its ad-supported service.

Score one for the fast follower.

And in part two of this two-part series, I will discuss whether or not all of this will last.


The intuitive future of wearable tech

August 3, 2015

Imagine not just watching a football game, but also feeling the impact of players as they hit and tackle each other. Does this sound like a far off fantasy? It’s not. The Alert Shirt, a combined effort of FOXTEL and We:eX, is “a fan jersey that uses wearable technology to take the experience into the physical world, allowing fans to feel what the players feel live as it happens during the game.”

Gartner forecasts that wearable devices will deliver $15.8 billion in worldwide revenue by 2020. Such devices have quickly become an ingrained concept in our day-to-day lexicon, and wearable technologies are now transcending beyond just smart watches and fitness devices that count your calories burned and steps walked. While many manufacturers are focused on analyzing and delivering personal data as the value exchange for consumers, other companies are taking it a step further with a more experiential approach.

We:eX (Wearable Experiments), founded by fashion designer and innovator, Billie Whitehouse, seeks to uphold the human experience and how it can work in concert with technology. “Too often have I seen another big, chunky watch. I call that the arm party.” This is a party she plans to avoid.

“Statistics show that we’re starting to forget to use touch as a form of communication in our daily lives because we’re so dependent on technology.” To counter this, Whitehouse and her team design items to tap into the feeling of touch to create an emotion bridge between the digital space and the physical space. When looking at the intersection of fashion and technology, Whitehouse saw hole in an expansive, early pie chart looking at the wearables landscape.


At this year’s BRITE ’15 conference, Whitehouse wowed the audience with the unique and fascinating inventions she’s created as part of her wearables mission—to merge fashion and technology with a functional design aesthetic to elevate quality of life. In fact, one could even describe her products as compelling and entertaining with a practical twist, not only easing pain-points, but making life… well, fun.

A self-described “body architect,” Whitehouse explained that she dives into “the nooks and crannies, the softness and the movement of the body and the how we integrate technology into that space.”

The 20-something entrepreneur has fashion and innovation in her DNA. Her mother founded the Whitehouse Institute of Design in New South Wales, Australia, which hosts Project Runway Australia. Partnering with her mother, they’ve designed a curriculum notable for incorporating new innovations. In taking a deep look at the future of fashion early on, Whitehouse explained, “I was having the right conversations at the right time… and [looked at] how we use fabrics and fibers and technologies to invigorate fashion, to give it intelligence, to make sure everything you put on your back has a purpose.

One of her newer creations is “Navigate”, a location-enabled jacket that does exactly as the name implies—helps people to navigate through the streets of cities like New York, Sydney and most recently Paris. As Whitehouse explains, “Wearable technology must be intuitive and seamless within our daily lives, enhancing our life experience while connecting us to other people and the world at large. Our new product is a major first step in the right direction.”

Watch Billie Whitehouse keynote at BRITE ’15.


145 Years Young: Digital Innovation at The Met

June 17, 2015

In 1967, IBM founder Thomas J. Watson approached The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City with a then unheard of offer… to donate computers to the Museum. The Met declined. Ironically, one particular curator doubted that a computer would be a “time-saving device.”

This resistance to joining the technology-driven world may now seem as dated as a piece from the Met’s Ancient collection, given that 2011 marked the year the Met lifted its cell phone ban and redesigned its website for optimal viewing on smartphone screens. And in 2013, the Museum’s first-ever Chief Digital Officer, Sree Sreenivasan, was brought on board to digitally transform the museum experience.

Art and technology have long been bedfellows—from Michelangelo with his chisel and hammer to Ryan TrecartinSree Sreenivasan at BRITE'15 with his mixed-media video installations. Speaking at the BRITE ’15 conference, Sreenivasan, who is also formerly Columbia University’s first Chief Digital Officer, noted, “Any art you see today is because the artist used the right technology at the right time—the right canvas, the right marble, the right tools.”

Sreenivasan understands firsthand the challenges of keeping pace with a rapidly evolving digital world, particularly at renowned institutions with such historical significance. At BRITE ’15, Sreenivasan shared insights from digital, mobile and social lessons learned during his tenure with The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He explained that a consistent strategy across mobile and social media platforms, like the one employed by the Met, is pivotal to staying relevant and continuing to meet consumers’ day-to-day desires in this age of constant change and innovation.

It’s no secret that mobile is now more important than ever. In September 2014, the Met launched its first app. Sreenivasan wanted to provide Museum visitors with an app that would speak more directly to their interests, “instead of putting the whole museum in [their] pocket.” Art enthusiasts can track upcoming events, save their favorite works of art to their smartphones and tweet about their favorite exhibitions. Within two weeks of its release, the app was downloaded more than 100,000 times and has been hailed as one of the Apple Store’s “Best New Apps.”

Though his title is Chief Digital Officer, Sreenivasan considers himself to be more of a “Chief Listening Officer,” observing the varying interests and behaviors of the institution’s 6 million museum attendees and the 30 million unique online visitors a year. “That’s a lot of listening,” quipped Sreenivasan.

One result of all that listening was a commitment to creating hashtags for each exhibition. No small feat, considering the Met currently houses over 2 million works of art. Sreenivasan credits the audience who tweeted their wishes for an intuitive way to share their museum experiences.

Sreenivasan notes that audiences are becoming increasingly “culturally curious,” eager to glimpse the behind-the-scenes of installations. The Met answered this growing need by displaying online the restoration of one of its most coveted acquisitions, Everhard Jabach (1618–1695) and His Family, ca. 1660, by French artist Charles Le Brun.

Charles Le Brun (French, Paris 1619–1690 Paris) Everhard Jabach (1618–1695) and His Family, ca. 1660 Oil on canvas; 110 1/4 × 129 1/8 in. (280 × 328 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Mrs. Charles Wrightsman Gift, in honor of Keith Christiansen, 2014 (2014.250)

Through the Met’s social channels, fans and followers were able to view this typically veiled process from anywhere in the world. “Instead of working on it in secret for a year and then putting it out, we’ve already started blogging about it.” Viewer comments have ranged from questions surrounding oil paint solvents to expressions of gratitude for the ability to witness art history in the making.

One such commenter said, “Thank you for giving us the opportunity to see this fascinating work…. [R]eading about it does not convey the same image.”

Another asked, “How many more do we have to look forward to? I’m anxious to see the work in the gallery, but not so much that I wish you to rush, rush. I am enjoying my time!”

When it comes to choosing social media platforms, Sreenivasan advised that, depending on your business, you don’t always have to be on every network, and “there is no reason to be first [on a social media platform]. Join when it makes sense for you.” Sreenivasan reminded the audience of the potential minefield of controversy that social media platforms can become. “Almost everyone will miss everything you do until you make a mistake,” he cautioned. In the October 2014 New York Times article, Museums Morph Digitally, Amit Sood, director of the Google Cultural Institute in London, echoed this sentiment, “I learned not to underestimate museums. They were a little slow to the digital game. That’s a good thing.”

Slow to the digital game, perhaps, but well-conceived. Sreenivasan’s digital strategy at The Metropolitan Museum of Art has allowed this nearly 150 year-old institution to remain a timeless cultural mainstay while continually reinventing how it delivers art to art enthusiasts, based on their desires as they express them, from their smartphones to the front steps of the Museum itself.



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