Personal information is known as the "oil" of the 21st century. The digital and mobile revolution has brought possibilities to monetize personal information to develop new personalized services and to create new revenue streams. A new report from Ericsson ConsumerLab shows that consumer awareness of how their information is being shared is still low but anonymous big data is rarely perceived as a big issue.

In today’s society, companies and organizations have unprecedented possibilities to collect and use people’s personal information. Using this information in the right way enables new revenue streams and increased profit.

But do consumers understand and perceive the value of their personal information? What are the sensitivity involved with an increased use of personal information by enterprises, governments and consumers? The purpose of the Personal Information Economy report by ConsumerLab has been to describe consumers’ understanding, needs, behaviors and attitudes with respect to personal information as an asset.

Key findings

The report reveals that more than 50 percent of consumers are aware that their personal information is collected for commercial purposes. But the reasons why, how or exactly what it is used for are obscure to most.

Slightly more than 40 percent of consumers would allow companies to use their personal information when an offer is personalized to them, to improve current services and develop new ones.

Consumers’ concerns about sensitivity diminish if they can see a clear and desired benefit from sharing personal information. Involving consumers by asking for permission increases trust and willingness to share personal information. Transparency, in other words, understanding how the personal information is used, will improve consumers’ regard of the company.

"Many consumers want personalized offers and services," says Rebecka Cedering Ångström, Senior Advisor, ConsumerLab at Ericsson. "But at the same time, companies and organizations must be very careful how they design their offers. Used according to consumer praxis, personal information can improve the user experience and increase loyalty and sales."

In a connected society, where 50 billion connected devices and associated services generate information, the entire ecosystem will increase in importance. This gives an opportunity for consumers to get better and more personalized services and offers.

About the report

The qualitative research was carried out in the US and Europe, involving in-depth interviews with consumers and experts. In addition, an explorative student workshop was arranged.

The quantitative research is based on ConsumerLab’s analytical platform with 23,000 online interviews made with people aged 15-69 in Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Sweden, the UK, Ukraine and the US in May 2012.

Ericsson ConsumerLab gains its knowledge through a global consumer research program based on interviews with 100,000 individuals each year, in more than 40 countries and 15 megacities - statistically representing the views of 1.1 billion people. Both quantitative and qualitative methods are used, and hundreds of hours are spent with consumers from different cultures.

Read the report here

All ConsumerLab reports can be found at

Notes to editors

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