The Future of Consumer Ownership

When it comes to technology and data, and how it's used, companies have historically controlled the levers. However, with all the recent and upcoming industry changes, there are cultural shifts afoot. Many industry leaders believe consumers will be in more powerful positions than in the past, having more control over their data and their purchases.

It isn't, of course, just about consumers learning more about how to protect their privacy, but how to harness control through their purchases. For instance, with climate change becoming the focus of conversations and concerns, consumers may opt for brands that are pioneering sustainable change.

When it comes to data, David Fontanez, a director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, wrote for ANA that "consumers recognize [the importance of] the delicate balance between data and personalization. For users who want tailored offers, data sharing is acceptable – as long as they're in control and brands are honest about how they're using data. In fact, 67 percent say the benefits of data sharing outweigh the risks and 76 percent consider it a 'necessary evil.'"

Consumer actions and choices play a huge role in how brands will move forward in the future. According to research presented by American Dental Association (ADA), "82 percent of consumers say it's important for the companies they buy from to align with their beliefs and values." Further, the ADA also stated during an ANA event that "75 percent report parting ways with a brand over a conflict in values."

Ultimately, these developments illustrate that consumers are more conscious than ever before about who they support and how. It's important for brands to decide what their leading purpose is and how to communicate their purpose — just as much as how to responsibly procure and use consumer data.

Below are quotes from industry leaders on technological and cultural changes — and how the consumer is in the driver's seat when it comes to control.

"Shifts in control ultimately lead to shifts in power, and these seemingly small shifts in control will alter power dynamics on a systemic level. In their roles as leaders, workers, customers, consumers, creators, and human beings with rights, people will be seeking ways to claw back some control."
Mark Curtis, head of innovation and thought leadership at Accenture Interactive

"Something I've seen explode in recent years is the desire for societal change — not only wanting that and demanding governments help with that, but expecting brands to do that. The role of brands has really changed, and we're expecting so much from them in terms of not just products and services, but now what purpose they have that consumers can lean into. Consumers want to see what role they can play in enhancing the planet when buying from a given brand. The role of the brand has completely changed, and the way we're talking about it has become more humanized. We talk about them now the same way we talk about influential individuals."
 Emma Chiu, global director at Wunderman Thompson

"Integrity is if a brand is talking the talk and walking the walk and being consistent with that. Or being transparent about failures. Integrity is very aligned with authenticity and transparency. Purpose is more about the beliefs a company may have that they're willing to stand by. These two things can work well together, but they're not really one in the same."
 Jeremy Goldman, director of marketing and commerce briefings at Insider Intelligence

"The best way to [monetize personalization] is responsibly. We got data back from retailers suggesting the number one challenge with retail media networks is balancing monetization with a quality consumer experience. The best way to do it is to use data science to analyze click stream data and figure out how much advertising you can put onsite to maintain a robust customer experience, while also generating high margin operating income."
— Nikhil Lai, senior analyst of performance marketing at Forrester

"If you think about traditional social media, there is one company that controls everything and has all of the data locked away in their own servers. What a decentralized social media platform does is distribute that data to other people. It democratizes it, meaning people have ownership and portability over their own data and content."
— Zaven Nahapetyan, cofounder and CTO of Niche

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.