Are we more trusted than Facebook to protect personal data?

In light of the recent Facebook / Cambridge Analytica scandal, we believe this is an important question for the market research sector to ask ourselves. Obviously we think we are, but to a large extent, what we think is irrelevant, as it is what the general public thinks which matters.

GRBN has decided to repeat our 2016 Trust Survey* in order to measure where we stand today on trust overall, as well as specifically on trust to protect and appropriately use people’s personal data. Whilst we wait for the new data, let’s see what the 2016 survey tells us about whether we are more trusted than Facebook to protect personal data?

The basic answer is ‘yes’ based on the 2016 data, but there are huge differences by country. The table below shows the average for the 9 countries surveyed and highlights the differences between the US and Germany.

In Germany, yes… in the USA, not really

In particular in the US, the perceived difference between market research companies and social media companies is alarmingly small.

Digging deeper into our research archives, our 2014 survey showed us that in the Asia Pacific region there is also very little difference between how well social media companies and market research companies are perceived to protect and appropriately use personal data, especially among young adults.

It will be interesting to see if and how trust in market research companies has developed over the last two years. We are not overly optimistic about the results, but we want to have fresh evidence of the challenge our sector faces to build trust with the general public, as we believe that this is one of the most critical issues which we currently face and that we need to do more to address the challenge.

Watch this space to be among the first to see the new data when it comes out, and whilst you wait, you can read the German trust in market research story here.


* Fieldwork was conducted by Research Now through its online panel, and the survey was conducted in nine countries (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Japan, Mexico, UK and US) in March/April 2016 with more than 9,000 respondents taking part. The sample for the survey was drawn to represent adults 18 plus in each country and data has been weighted to match the population in each country on key demographic variables. The total results represent an average for the nine countries and is not weighted to reflect population size.