It’s Time Brands Became Intelligent About Consumer Intelligence

By Mike Billingsley, CEO, OnePulse

Three years ago the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) was signed into law in a bid to regulate how organizations collect and manage the personal data of internet users in the US.

The same year in the EU, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was implemented, and together they marked the start of a whole new era of complexity for companies that collect personal data – which in this day and age is pretty much everyone.

We know that data is big business and people, often unknowingly, have been making personal data trade-offs every time they pick up their mobile, whether it’s by clicking on a like button, taking a fun online quiz, or accepting all settings so they can buy that nice pair of boots, etc.


It was only last week that the world learned the private information of employees and customers of McDonald’s had been stolen, in yet another example of cybercriminals infiltrating high-profile global companies. While McDonald’s didn’t disclose the number of files exposed and ensured it was only a small amount, the gravity of the situation is clear. Sensitive personal information such as emails, phone numbers and home addresses of customers were accessed by an unknown third party, which left a big question in everyone’s mind; if a global and powerful organization like McDonald’s can’t keep customer’s data safe, who can?

Although data privacy and security awareness is heightened in the business world due to events like this, has this privacy breach at all impacted the everyday person’s knowledge and awareness of the CCPA and what it means for them? After all, CCPA is meant to give people more control over how organizations use their data. And further, have data breaches like this made the majority of the public rethink the way they give consent to their personal information?

To mark CCPA’s third birthday in 2021, the real-time consumer insights panel OnePulse surveyed 500 US nationals, and the results were eye-opening.

The findings revealed that over 65% of respondents don’t know what CCPA is. And while the general awareness about CCPA might be lacking, the awareness around data privacy and skepticism toward companies that collect data was clear, as 69% admitted to not thinking companies do enough to protect their data. With over 155 million victims of exposed records in the US just last year, we don’t blame them.

This skepticism paired with the upcoming changes to cookies and app tracking will pose a new set of challenges for businesses, who will be forced to get smarter about how they handle first-party consumer data.

When asked what organisation’s people trust the most with their data, healthcare services companies rated the best (32%) – perhaps not surprisingly on the back of last year. Marketing and advertising companies, however, scored the lowest trust rating (1%), closely followed by retailers and brands (3.8%).

So what does this mean for the future of businesses and brands? While data will remain big business, there are big changes to be made, whether we want it or not. Not only will organizations need to be aware of a whole new set of challenges with the impending user tracking regulations, but also the trust issues from the general public. It’s not an impossible feat, far from it, as long as these organisations keep their finger on the pulse and stay in the know of public opinion.