Luxury Institute: The Wide Divide Between U.S. And Chinese Affluent Consumers On Privacy Concerns And Data Sharing

NEW YORK, June 23, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- As quarantine orders end and businesses begin to reopen, governments around the world are rolling out new coronavirus contact-tracing smartphone apps to track personal location data and provide notice when users encounter someone known to be infected with COVID-19. The goal is to reduce the number of new infections from each sick person, and to prevent exponential growth of cases. These mostly voluntary efforts require widespread adoption to be effective, but new research from New York-based Luxury Institute indicates an overall reluctance to share the data right before the pandemic, for data needed for contact-tracing apps to operate, especially in North America, Australia and Germany, with greater acceptance in Asia.

Surveys of high-income consumers from nine different countries for the Luxury Institute’s State of the Luxury Industry 2020 report provide fresh insights into propensities of affluent consumers to permit sharing of various types of personal information. Only small minorities of respondents in total worldwide are willing to share location tracking (15%) or medical/health (14%) information with companies and brands that they trust. Current acceptance levels of tracking apps appear to confirm that similar levels of trust prevail with government agencies.

Countries where affluent consumers are least inclined to share medical and health information are Canada (6%), the U.S. (8%), and Germany (8%), while medical data sharing acceptance runs more at higher rates in China (27%) and South Korea (24%). In similar fashion, affluent consumers from Germany (9%) and the U.S. (11%) are least likely to share location data, while China’s (21%) acceptance rate for personal tracking is second only to that of France (23%), a country that has endured major terrorist attacks in the past decade and places a premium on security. Gender is not a major factor influencing the inclination to share these types of data, but age weighs heavily, with millennials under 40 years of age are more inclined than Baby Boomers to share personal data.

However, higher income appears to be a positive factor in whether consumers share data, very importantly, as long as they trust the brand. Worldwide, consumers with higher incomes are more likely than those with lower incomes to share location data (18% vs. 13%) and medical information (16% vs. 13%) with brands they trust. In addition, higher-income consumers are also relatively more inclined to share information about their fitness and wellness, business travel and location, and browsing and search history with trusted brands.

Higher wealth also plays a role in data sharing decisions, with 18% of those in the upper half of the net worth spectrum willing to share location data, compared to 13% of those in the lower echelons of wealth. The inclination of wealthier individuals to share location data is most pronounced in France (25%), China (24%), and Canada (21%), home to a large community of wealthy exiles from China. Wealthier individuals are also more likely to share information about current products owned with trusted brands. Wealthier consumers understand the major value creating opportunities, as well as the risks  of empowering data, better than mainstream consumers.

U.S. And China Often At Extremes Of Sharing Spectrum

One prominent theme to emerge from the research is a fundamentally relatively more permissive attitude toward sharing personal data in China than in the United States. In addition to location data and medical information, affluent Chinese consumers have a greater propensity than Americans to share data across all eight categories of personal data under consideration: lifestyle/interests (60% vs. 38%); products owned (50% vs. 38%); spending (38% vs. 23%); fitness and wellness (50% vs. 15%); business travel (37% vs. 14%); browsing history (40% vs. 14%).

On the basic question of what they would do if they could control access to their personal data, U.S. consumers are four times more likely (44%) than those in China (11%) to say that they would not allow brands to access any of their data; 85% of Chinese consumers say that they would provide data to brands in exchange for more personalized service, but only 42% of U.S. consumers say the same.

This disparity in attitudes may stem from Chinese citizens being younger and having grown accustomed to surveillance and censorship by Beijing through digital platforms and direct means from the start of their digital lives, in contrast to traditionally prevalent suspicion of big government in the U.S.

“Trends among the affluent with respect to providing personal data access to trusted brands are emerging rapidly. The Luxury Institute continues to measure these trends because they are the most critical factors in unleashing the value of advanced  personalization,” said Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza. “There are some clear trends. Chinese consumers, who are younger, are willing to share data for personalization, while western affluent consumers are far less trusting. However, wealthier individuals everywhere are more willing to share personal data when they are reassured that it is in the hands of ethical, trustworthy brands that will deliver high value. That is a huge opportunity for ethical luxury goods and services providers. Trust is the currency of the digital economy that drives the most critical resource, personal data. In order to accelerate data sharing that will unleash massive economic value, brands must earn the trust of their customers now.”

This survey is the latest in a long line of breakthrough studies over the past two decades by the Luxury Institute, including Internet Habits of the Wealthy, The Wealthy and Social Media, and The Wealthy and Social Responsibility. Luxury Institute also educates executives and front-line associates on the fundamentals of building emotional intelligence to nurture client relationships with its Luxcelerate System. This latest research confirms that privacy and personalization will be major action items for luxury goods and services brands in 2020 and beyond, touching the entire enterprise and matching sustainability as the most important driver of trust-building in client relationships.

The complete State of the Luxury Industry 2020 report, including detailed information by country, is available for purchase. For more information, visit

About Luxury Institute
Luxury Institute is the world's most trusted research, training, and elite business solutions partner for luxury and premium goods and services brands. With the largest global network of luxury executives and experts, Luxury Institute has the ability to provide its clients with high-performance, leading-edge business solutions developed by the best, most successful minds in the industry.
Over the last 17 years, Luxury Institute has served over 1,100 luxury and premium goods and services brands. Luxury Institute has conducted more quantitative and qualitative research with affluent, wealthy and uber-wealthy consumers than any other entity. This knowledge has led to the development of its scientifically proven high-performance, emotional intelligence-based education system, Luxcelerate, that dramatically improves brand culture and financial performance.

Milton Pedraza