IS COLLECTING CONSUMER DATA ETHICAL?

1.  WHAT IS DATA COLLECTION?

Collecting personal information is one of the most effective ways to get to know who the consumers are and what their preferences are. Marketers then use this information to design compelling promotional campaigns that can both increase brand awareness and consumer loyalty.

A. WHY DOES DATA COLLECTION MATTER?

As a matter of fact, people like to be understood. They want their needs and wants to be fulfilled.

Oftentimes, companies and websites will seek consumer consent before proceeding to the collecting stage. The amount of data collected depends on the purposes it is used for. In the position of a consumer, asking for consent may have different layers of meanings. Politely placing a request means that companies respect consumer privacy and that they are honest in their actions. On the other hand, organizations may employ consent requests as a tactic to surpass consumer awareness and begin gathering their information subconsciously. 

B.    APLLYING THE ETHICAL FRAMEWORK

To thoroughly evaluate the ethical aspects of collecting consumer data, consumers should examine how specifically companies are telling them about their using purposes. For example, if a website asks to access your laptop’s webcam, it should say that it is using a webcam for video chat or self-recording. Similarly, if a website asks to obtain your birth dates, you should expect it to state that it may use these dates for promotional purposes or discounted vouchers. Generally, the degree of being ethical in marketing strategies largely depends on the ethical nature of the organizations. People enjoy content being catered to them. However, they put the goodwill of data collection into consideration because many companies used their consumer data to seek profit inappropriately.

2.  EVALUATING THE ETHICS OF COLLECTING PERSONAL INFORMATION

From my perspective, collecting personal information started as a smart approach to respond to consumers’ needs as it doesn’t require an excessive amount of time and research. As more and more organizations started employing it immorally, they contributed to the forming of a bad perception of consumer data collection. 

The nature of this approach transformed because the context of its application became more complicated over time. I would not consider it a dark behavior. However, it is worthy to note that the line between being ethical and unethical is very thin, and consumer attitudes can be very sensitive.

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