Luxury Institute: From B2C to Me2B: The Essential Convergence of Privacy and Personalization

New York, New York, UNITED STATES

NEW YORK, June 25, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, consumers and goods and services brands have been persuaded by digital ad platforms that privacy and personalization are mutually exclusive. The operating assumption is that individuals need to compromise their data, and their privacy, in order to get “free” services and personalization. That is a false choice. The reality is that the Big Tech ecosystem is only the first chapter in the life of the internet. The existing model has too many downsides to remain viable. Emerging forces are converging to decentralize the internet, freeing it up from its dependency on tech giants. These forces are not visible to the naked eye today. When they converge, they will reverse the current B2C model, and will empower consumers and legitimate goods and services sellers to evolve into mutually beneficial Me2B business relationships.

Digitizing the traditional advertising model has precipitated some harmful effects. Google and Facebook today are the poster children for exponential Big Tech growth and profitability. However, in 2019, history is reaching a point where citizens, politicians, and a growing chorus of business and legal experts, denounce these companies, and their peers, as dangerous monopolies.  

Unfortunately, for legitimate goods and services sellers, the anger inspired by Google and Facebook damages all brands that are part of their ecosystem. Sellers that buy digital ads bear the ultimate cost, including the rampant waste of marketing budgets driven by a combination of fraud, fake metrics, growing ad blocking, low single-digit response rates, and unsustainable customer acquisition costs. The biggest cost is the loss of consumer trust that destroys long-term relationships.

There is a truism about digital trends; by the time you can measure a trend, it’s probably  late. Below, Luxury Institute has identified several emerging digital forces. Some are apparent, and some are barely sprouting. When they converge, they are likely to drive a new business model of the internet that reverses the seller/buyer relationship from “B2C” to “Me2B” and puts consumers in charge over the next decades.

1. Privacy Regulation Will Increasingly Protect Consumers

The European Union is leading in privacy protection. It requires companies to inform data subjects  as to what, how and why their data is processed. Personal data can only be collected for legitimate business purposes. The data must be encrypted and companies must prove compliance. California has followed Europe’s lead. Now the federal government is getting into the act. There are efforts to develop voluntary compliance standards such as the Me2B Alliance and Fair Trade Data efforts, akin to Fair Trade Coffee and Diamonds. Legislation is only one solution. Beyond laws, there are much bigger win-win-win digital opportunities ahead for sellers, buyers and platforms.

2. Consumers Will Own and Control Their Personal Data

Through GDPR, the Europeans have designed a working definition of personal data. As with all legal definitions, there are gray, but workable, areas. America has strong medical data legislation. Other data, such as financial data, are easier to define and own. The “Internet of Things” will make collecting an individual’s daily granular data ubiquitous. However, Siri and Alexa will not own that data. The global trend is overwhelmingly towards data as property, and data as an asset. Some even insist that personal data is a human right.

Stanford Business School professors Charles Jones and Christopher Tonetti recently conducted a study that showed that when companies own consumer data they hoard it, and fail to respect privacy, damaging economies and societies. In sharp contrast, when consumers own the data, they achieve more than just privacy. Because they care deeply about benefits, and economic well being, consumers are eager to exchange, sell, donate and share their data, or its insights, with legitimate entities, and in much higher quality, quantity and relevancy than marketers can collect.

Brands are realizing that they have the potential to access better data, or its insights, easier, faster, and cheaper, if consumers own it. Luxury Institute predicts that innovative luxury goods and services brands, because they often lead trends, and serve the affluent, will step up to confirm that their clients own their individual data in the company’s database, and are free to review, edit, or add more, in order to receive truly personal communications and customized offers, and build honest relationships, without worrying that they will be compromised. This will trigger a trend of sharing data, and insights, ethically between businesses and consumers that benefits all of society.

3. Fiduciary Platforms Will Emerge to Steward Individual Consumer Data

In order to own and control their data, consumers need a personal database. Data must be organized, structured and encrypted. There must be standards and protocols to enable the seamless analysis, sharing, exchanging, selling and donation of personal data and/or insights. This will trigger a massive new ecosystem of fiduciary data services. Many entrepreneurs are already working on this opportunity. The most prominent effort comes from MIT Professor Tim Berners Lee, who created the World Wide Web, and founded Solid (Social Linked Data), a web decentralization project based on current internet standards. He recently left MIT and co-founded Inrupt to create services for the new internet.  Another MIT-related project is Elastos, which is based on blockchain. In the new model of the internet, a vast new industry of fiduciary data intermediary services will emerge through which consumers will manage their data easily and connect through apps and APIs with goods and services providers for mutual benefit. This is a concept that top consultant, John Hagel, envisioned two decades ago in his book “Net Worth.” The new data fiduciaries will compete to serve only one purpose: maximize the best interests of their individual clients.

4. Personal A.I. Will Dramatically Enhance Consumers' Lives

Big Data has been the trend for the last decade. It has been collected and monopolized by Facebook, Google, Amazon, and others, and mined for huge profits. In the decentralized internet, the customer will no longer be the product. As individuals aggregate their medical, financial, travel, location, calendar, purchase, and other critical data in one secure personal database, they will have unprecedented, and continuously updated, vertical, horizontal, and 360-degree insightful views of their lives. The most trusted data fiduciaries will scale rapidly, and will have access to the aggregated and anonymized data of millions of their clients. They will apply ethical A.I. to generate individual as well as cohort group insights and recommendations that will help people to improve their health, wealth, behaviors and habits.

5. Consumers Will Signal Their Purchasing Intentions to Trusted Brands

One day there will be schools and streets named after David “Doc” Searls. For decades, he has been an unrelenting champion for the digital rights of individuals. Searls co-wrote “The Cluetrain Manifesto” in 1999 and wrote the book “The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge” in 2012. The book’s key premise is that in the emerging decentralized internet, when consumers control their data, they will eagerly choose to signal their buying intentions to trusted brands, and will negotiate in good faith, in a symmetrical relationship, with sellers. Buyers will issue the equivalent of a Request for Proposal to trusted goods and services providers especially selected by them, and/or, with A.I., in real time, by their trusted fiduciaries. Consumers will allow access to their data, or insights, in exchange for genuinely personalized messages, rewards, and offers. Instead of only marketers targeting buyers, buyers will directly target marketers when they are ready to shop, or buy. The new Intention Economy will lower supply chain, marketing, selling, returns and other costs. Instead of search as the basis of commerce, the new economy will be based on ethical, intentional matching. This new model does not eliminate the need for great brand awareness campaigns across all media, and brands will still need many types of ethical, innovative marketing and selling efforts to inspire demand.

6. Trusted Expert Advisors Will Help Consumers Achieve High Performance Lives

The wealthy have always had the resources to access trusted expert advisors. They hire wealth advisors, lawyers, concierge doctors, estate managers, and personal stylists. Hagel and Searls believe that with the ability to own their personal data, affluent, middle class and mass consumers will be able to afford trusted expert advisors to optimize the myriad of choices, and make smart decisions, in many areas of their lives. Trusted experts will emerge in categories such as health care, financial services, wellness, fitness, education, careers, travel, fashion, lifestyle and many other critical areas of a complex life where time truly is the ultimate luxury for all people. Trusted expert advisors (TEAs) will be certified in their domain of expertise, and in emotional intelligence skills. Enhanced by A.I., and with deep knowledge of their clients as human beings, they will understand their true intentions, anticipate their needs, and introduce them to new opportunities. They will also challenge their clients’ intentions to help them optimize their personal and professional lives. Having a constellation of affordable expert advisors will no longer be a privilege of the wealthy.

7. Incumbents Will Change Their Business Models or Become Irrelevant

Will Facebook, Google and their data brokers be able to remain relevant? There is no doubt that these companies have delivered a tremendous amount of value to consumers, along with many harmful effects. Since decentralized internet systems such as Solid and Elastos are open source, they are available to all incumbents. The technology is a no brainer. Incumbents may decide to use their massive resources to transform themselves into protectors of privacy, and engines of personalization. The alternative is irrelevancy.

These new forces of positive change present a win-win-win opportunity for buyers, sellers and digital platforms. Everyone can be a winner when privacy and personalization converge. “We are at a major intersection in the life of our digital ecosystem,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute. “The evolving convergence of privacy regulation, consumer data ownership, fiduciary platforms, personal A.I, the consumer-led intention economy, and trusted expert advisors, in some combination, will transform business as we know it. It will be messy and complex and will evolve over a decade, or more, because incumbents will fight with every resource to maintain their monopolies. Only one thing is certain. It would be wise for Big Tech to disrupt themselves and get on the right side of moral and economic history.”

About Luxury Institute and the Global Luxury Expert Network (GLEN)

Today, we are the world's most trusted luxury and premium research, training, and elite business solutions platform with the largest global network of luxury experts. Uniquely, Luxury Institute’s network of hundreds of elite experts includes current luxury brand C-Level, VP and Director executives, former executives, and independent experts. We have conducted more quantitative and qualitative research on affluent consumers than any other entity. This knowledge has led to the development of our scientifically proven high-performance, emotional intelligence-based education system that dramatically improves brand culture and financial performance. Over the last 16 years, we have served over 1,000 luxury and premium goods and services brands.

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Milton Pedraza: