UK digital economy faces 'crisis of consumer confidence'
Dentsu Aegis Network has warned that falling consumer trust in digital services could have "significant implications" for brands, as research by the ad network reveals that 60% of UK consumers no longer trust businesses to protect their privacy.
Furthermore, the same proportion of consumers agreed that the benefits of digital tech are only felt by a select few in society.
As a result, the UK has tumbled from first to fifth position in Dentsu Aegis Network's Digital Society Index 2019 - an annual ranking of how major countries are performing in building digital economies that "work for everyone", published today.
The rankings are based on a survey of 43,000 people in 24 countries - on trust alone, the UK came 16th.
As distrust grows, consumers are increasingly taking back control of their online experience. 40% of people in the UK have actively taken steps to reduce the amount of data they share online, and eight in 10 said they would stop doing business with an organisation that misused their data.
For brands this creates a "digital paradox", the ad network said, as those consumers most active in taking back control of their online footprint are also those most likely to use digital products and services, such as online shopping or streaming music.
With that in mind, brands should compete on transparency around data useage, and also focus on engagement over reach to maximise the value of increasingly consumer-initiated interactions.
Moreover, nearly a third of UK respondents said they believed that their use of technology has had a negative effect on their quality of life; and while people are more comfortable in the UK than many markets with the pace of technological change, 44% said the pace was moving too fast.
To tackle these unfavourable opinions towards digital tech, brands need to help consumers undertake a "digital detox" and create a "loyalty premium" by helping them interact on their own terms, while also harnessing technology to enable more effective learning so people feel more confident in their own digital skills.
"While the innovation, dynamism and growth unleashed by digital technology is the defining economic trend of our time, across the globe, the human impact of that change is both complex and, in some areas, a cause for concern," said Tim Andree, executive chair and CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network.
Globally, digital experts must find a "more sustainable" way to apply data, technology and creativity, he added, "not just for economic gain" but for the benefit of society at large.
“My hope is that this report will inspire a fresh conversation about the digital economy, rooted in a longer-term view and the huge opportunity for brands and businesses to apply the power of technology to enrich people’s lives in more meaningful ways.”
The research was conducted in partnership with Oxford Economics and measured performance across the dimensions of dynamism, inclusion and trust.