Pursuing privacy-first marketing strategies

By Carolyn Corda, CMO at Adara

Following the announcement of a third national lockdown last week, it’s clear that consumers’ shopping habits won’t be returning to ‘normal’ anytime soon. Restrictions imposed by the government have closed all stores deemed to be non-essential and as a result, consumers have flocked online to shop instead. With retailers unable to sell products in brick and mortar stores for the foreseeable future, how they engage with consumers online has never been more important. 

Many retailers are relying on digital advertising, made effective through personalisation, in order to drive sales. By treating consumers as individuals and enrolling them in experiences specific to who they are and what they want, retailers see far better engagement rates and ultimately sales. According to a Salesforce study, 51% of consumers expect that companies will anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions before they even make contact.

What’s more, research has also found that 91% of consumers are more likely to buy products from retailers that use their name and provide personal recommendations. However, there is a flipside that retailers must get ahead of immediately: privacy concerns. 

Privacy is crucial for two reasons: to protect the consumer from invasive levels of understanding about them as an identifiable individual being leveraged by corporations, and to ensure that their details are secure from cyber attacks, hackers and other malicious agents. 


With data breaches becoming increasingly common in recent years, retailers need to ensure that they are actively pursuing marketing strategies that both protect the integrity of the data being used and ultimately benefit the consumer with engaging comms.

According to research, 2020 was the “worst year on record” for data breaches with the number of records exposed reaching a staggering 36 billion. This is a shocking number in an age where increasingly our activities are being moved online – if consumers are to trust in brands, they need to feel that their personal details are safe from outside actors. 

Retailers may now find that despite generating positive results and benefiting the consumer by ensuring more relevant comms, the data and methodology currently used to power their personalisation strategies may be easily compromised. The real focus for retailers looking to engage with consumers online, therefore, must be two-fold: how to personalise in a privacy-centric way. 

Any retailer looking to drive effective, tailored comms must first consider how they can protect the integrity of their customers’ data – going above and beyond regulatory compliance to ensure they are best practice leaders in the space. This means standardising data protection procedures and – crucially – picking the right data partners to provide the level of customer insight needed to create personalised marketing.

Based on data integrity and accuracy, data consortiums are a solution that can help retailers personalise messages to consumers in a way that puts consumer wellbeing at the heart of the operation. They do this by creating new data sets for retailers to use to fuel campaigns and ensure that all data partners and clients are only able to share and benefit from data if they adhere to a number of privacy safeguards. 

In fact, the leading data partners for retailers will not only work to best practice, but they will ask the brand to improve practices in order to comply with their standards – ones that enshrine the consumer’s privacy as the first and foremost concern in data handling and usage. At Adara, we have decentralised and tokenised the data our partners and clients share in order to ensure that their data and personalisation practices are both secure and future fit. This means retailers can action in-depth insights, knowing that the user’s security and privacy is never compromised.  

As we enter yet another lockdown, it is paramount that retailers put privacy at the heart of their digital marketing strategies. Personalisation if done right can generate results and boost sales – but the practice is only future fit if privacy and consumer rights are respected throughout the process. With a truly privacy-centric data policy, retail marketers can set their campaigns up for success through lockdown and beyond. 

Carolyn Corda is CMO at Adara, a data consortium that supports retail marketers to target consumers and prevent online fraud 

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