Using data in a post-GDPR world

Sue MacLure, Head of Data at PSONA Data, Communisis Group 

Since GDPR came into force there is a fear that brands can’t use their customers’ personal data in any way, and as such are backing off from gathering it. The danger is that their offering becomes less personal and more one-size-fits-all – which was never the intention of the legislation.

It has long been the case that brands targeted their customers by using information they came to hold as a by-product of offering a service. It helped them target offers, manage their in-store merchandising, inform their buying programmes and much more. The problem was that brands became complacent and lost sight of the fact that they were effectively spying on their customer base – and no one likes to feel spied upon, however good their relationship with that spy.

GDPR comes out of human rights legislation. It’s about doing the right thing – which may be to use personal data, or it may be to actively not do so, or to aggregate information in a way that makes your service better, but not creepy.

Some tips...

  1. Personal data isn’t an inanimate object. It’s a representation of a human being, and if you remember that it will make you more likely to use it in a way that is actually GDPR compliant. Keep that voice in your head reminding you that these are people, not ones and zeroes.
  2. That data doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to the customer. Ask yourself how they would feel about what you’re planning to do with it. Do the mum test – how would your mum feel about it?
  3. You don’t have to know everything about everyone to add value. Find the areas that will add the most value, learn about them and then apply to a wider audience. You’ll still improve your offering with a little bit of knowledge. Be pragmatic.

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