SXSW 2015: Value Exchange In A Data-Rich World

Data exchange is a necessary part of the consumer experience, and can come with its attendant risks. But some brands don’t consider the proposition an “either/or” when it comes to respecting consumer privacy.

“When it comes to in-store,” says Dan Gutwein, head of the retail analytics department within Intel’s IoT business, “you can get a lot of data without invading privacy.” His data tools track products, not people. A product, he says, “has no privacy issues or rights. If I can track it, I can understand activity in a store without invading personal privacy.”

But at some point, retailers will want extract data from consumers. Ryan Bonafacino, the VP of Digital at Alex and Ani, is adamant about keeping the exchange transparent, consumer-focused, and value-added. The jewelry retailer collects a great deal of consumer data, but separates identifiable information (name, address, and the like) from actionable business data (device IDs, cookies, in-store activity). In fact, at scale, anonymized data is just better for retailers to work with.

Alex and Ani is treating data privacy as a facet of retention. “We’re doing it for the consumer as opposed to running math,” Bonafacino says. The brand understands that supporting its current clientele is more important than maximizing databases—even when the decision is total opt-out.