How important is online privacy to Gen Z?

19 March 2018 / Brían Taylor

Gen Z are savvy to the information they’re putting out when they’re in the digital space. They’re switched on to customising their privacy settings and personal information, and the data shows they’d rather keep that data safe than risk it for peer affirmation or online validation (Figure 10).

The digital world is still relatively unvetted; anybody, anywhere, can share almost anything, unhampered. This freedom in the hands of young adults has the potential to cause problems. Z are still developing their personalities, learning about society, and experimenting with opinions and the way that impacts their personal relationships online. However, they’re much savvier about the importance and value of their data and privacy online; 2 in 3 of the Z respondents asked have adjusted their privacy settings on their social channels and are conscious of where they were sharing their personal data, with 10% more females applying privacy settings than males (Figure 10).

Millennials are often characterised as chasing likes and status, but 87% of Z consider that keeping their information private was more important than popularity measures such as getting ‘likes’ on posts. This attitude appears to strengthen as the audience matures, with younger respondents being more likely to place greater importance on ‘likes’ over privacy with those aged 16-18 almost twice as likely as 19 – 21 year olds to consider likes more important than keeping their data under wraps.

This audience are getting more savvy about what they share, and with data still king, applications and platforms are offering enhanced features and functionality to encourage information to be shared. Location data is one recent example of this. Users are invited to turn on geolocation so smartphones can activate certain features such as exclusive Snapchat lenses which are restricted to a certain area. 75% of Z only allow location sharing for apps which require it to function, and 58% toggle their location sharing according to how and when they want to use it (Figure 11).

When Snapchat introduced the maps feature in summer 2017, Gen Z echoed the privacy concerns of their elders around their whereabouts being on show. 45% of respondents could see this feature causing problems in their and their friends’ relationships. Over half (51%) didn’t feel it was a good addition to the app, whereas only 24% felt it was (the remainder didn’t know or were impartial) (Figure 11).

Interestingly when you start to move away from friends and entertainment and into the world of brands, the authenticity of a brand’s need to know location plays a huge part in Gen Z’s willingness to share. Only 18% of Gen Z would be happy to share their location with their favourite brands, with an overwhelming 60% actively disagreeing. Whilst when the question was articulated as a benefit- whether Gen Z would be happy to hear about new products and services based on where they were - the number rose to over 30% agreeing with the statement and only 25% being unhappy to hear from brands in this manner. If the value exchange and proposition to Gen Z is right, then the willingness is there.

Key brand points

1. Consider the relevance of location and data to the experience you are able to offer digitally, or the improvements it could allow you to make to service. Mutual benefit is the validator here and Gen Z are savvy as to how they can opt in and toggle out however they may wish.

2. The introduction of the Global Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) is going to govern and protect the integrity of brand marketing, and the health of brand-consumer relationships. With a team of over 70 data scientists working alongside brand marketers, Jaywing can help you understand the impact and opportunities GDPR presents for your business.


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