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What does a good value exchange look like?

Posted on: Monday 1st of February 2016

Suddenly, the term ‘value exchange’ seems to be everywhere. A few years ago, the idea that consumers would expect to get value from sharing their data with companies was almost unheard of. But times have changed fast. Now the agenda is very much ‘what does this value exchange look like?’ with companies routinely asking questions like ‘How much money are consumers prepared to trade their data for?’ or ‘Is ‘personalisation’ a big enough benefit?’

Ctrl-Shift’s answer has long been that the pivotal value exchange is likely to be PIMS – trustworthy Personal Information Management Services that help individuals get stuff done in their lives. But beware. The data value exchange isn’t just about the content of the ‘deal’; it’s just as much about process and relationship.

Here are four questions every brand needs to consider when trying to create a winning data value exchange with customers.

  • Is it explicit or implicit? If it’s implicit, it’s not really a ‘deal’ in the customer’s eyes, and any exchange that results could generate a customer backlash.
  • Is it negotiable or simply take-it-or-leave-it/imposed? If customers can’t say “I don’t like this bit or that bit” and be listened to, they’re not really agreeing to anything meaningful.
  • Who defines what the value is in the value exchange? Is value defined by the customer, or the company? In many of the ‘value exchanges’ we see, customers don’t really value the ‘value’ that’s being offered.
  • Is it a fair exchange? How is the value that’s generated from the data sharing distributed? Is it 20% customer and 80% company, or closer to 50/50?



The point about each of these questions is that they all point to the nature of the relationship, not just ‘the deal’. This is all about signalling – signalling intentions in a relationship; the essence of how brands build trust.

If a brand does something that comes across as shady rather than upfront and explicit, as dictatorial and imposing, as failing to listen, as ‘not fair’ then it is not signalling well-meaning intentions and risks forfeiting consumer trust. Brands that act like this tend to be regarded by consumers as “not the sort of company I want to do business with”.

The other side of the coin: brands which signal transparency, choice, giving the customer a say, and a sense of fairness are signalling that they are likely to be trustworthy business partners.

Right now, we see too far much focus on questions such as ‘what price will consumers put on their data’ with far too little focus on what sorts of relationships will see consumers willing to share any data at all. Right content, right process, right relationship – brands need all three if they really want to build successful sustainable data sharing relationships with their customers.