The Value Exchange: How Consumers and Brands Have Built Trust

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By Alicia Arnold, Managing D, fifty-five

Data is the name of the game for marketers, especially when it comes to reaching their audiences online. Getting consumers to share their data was once a relatively easy process as there were very few regulations when data collection first became a popular tactic for marketers.

However, as online privacy regulations mount with many states enacting privacy laws like Colorado most recently, and federal law on the table, consumers are becoming more knowledgeable and protective of sharing personal data. In a world where the consumer is prioritizing privacy, obtaining permission for data usage has proven difficult. Marketers will need to be more relevant and more strategic to stand out from the crowd. Similar to the evolution with opt-in email, it becomes a pull strategy rather than a push strategy.

Most marketers are now considering best practices.  While there are sure to be quite a few, they can all be rooted in a clear value exchange — by highlighting how data collection can improve overall experiences for consumers.

What is a value exchange?

Value exchange is a transaction between two parties that results in each party receiving something of value, some kind of benefit, from the transaction.


Think loyalty programs. Say you’re part of the loyalty program with a big hotel chain. You have access to member exclusives like special nightly rates, opportunities to earn points to get free nights, and even deals on rental cars and cruises. In return for those benefits, you are committing to that hotel brand whenever you travel. The brand is receiving guaranteed business.

People are typically more willing to do something when there is a benefit for them. I would be more inclined to stay at a specific hotel if I knew, in two stays, I would get a free night. It might feel like a stretch but the same idea can be applied to marketers and brands as they navigate the murky waters of opt-in and opt-out and data collection.

It is crucial that brands and marketers demonstrate some kind of value exchange with consumers when it comes to data collection.

How can brands and marketers depict the value for consumers in data?

What greatly concerns consumers online is the safety of their data once it is collected — and most of that stems from brands and marketers not being completely transparent with how and why this is a strategy and what happens once marketers have the data. Giving a glimpse into how this practice can improve the consumer experience overall could have an impact on the way consumers respond to the data being collected.

Below are priority elements that should be communicated to consumers by brands to emphasize the value exchange:

  • Transparency to Build Trust: Here, a brand addresses exactly what data is being collected for, where it will be stored and how it will be used. This message should be provided in layman’s terms. Avoid the legal jargon, which will only alienate consumers and send a message that may erode trust versus building it.
  • Value to Incentivize the Consumer: Why should a consumer give brand information about themselves? What’s in it for them? Common value messages are to receive a 10% discount for a subscription to a newsletter. Marketers can look to be more creative with the value message to truly pique their interest versus offering common offers. Other examples of value messages are tied to more custom offers and personalization.
  • Mission Statement to Align Values: Consumers these days are looking to purchase from companies who have a higher purpose than simply making money, and many companies are making being mission-led a priority. Noting a brand’s mission alongside transparency and value exchange messages can help consumers to identify with a company and become loyal customers. Mission statements can sometimes even tie directly to the ability to learn about customer needs. For example, a clothing company can aspire to create a better, more comfortable attire for a specific demographic. The mission of this company to continually evolve its clothing line with the needs of its customers can offer consumers a compelling reason to engage and share information with this brand.
  • Customer Experience to Enhance Interactions: Beyond creating an easy and efficient experience, brands can differentiate by using data to enhance the customer experience. To continue with the hotel example, the right data can ensure the booking is made for a room with a water view, or that the bed is made up with down-alternative pillows. This win-win for the brand and consumer is just a matter of identifying the value exchange and unlocking the right data.

Regulations, consumer privacy concerns and Big Tech are all moving data away from brands. Yet, brands need data to succeed. Offering consumers a clear value exchange will allow brands to build data assets and grow into 2022 and beyond.