Thinking of the GDPR as a compliance issue is like thinking that parenthood ends at the hospital when the reality is that nothing will ever be quite the same again.

As most marketers are now aware, the new the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force in May 2018. As this date fast approaches, attention has been focused on the immediate requirements, such as data security and consent. However, it is perhaps the new rules on data portability, which will have the biggest long-term impact on marketing in general and loyalty programmes in particular.

These lesser known regulations will allow customers (“data subjects”) to receive their own personal data in a “machine readable format” and the right to transmit this information to another controller “without limitation”. This change signals a seismic shift from a world where companies have owned and controlled data, to one where customers own and control their data and, most importantly, will have the means to share it as they see fit.

So what will this mean for marketing and loyalty?

1.    Holistic customer view – In recent years, marketers have sought to achieve the Holy Grail of a “single customer view” where data is gathered from all touch-points across a company, to better understand customers and adapt services accordingly. The key flaw of this approach has been that it only gives access to data regarding a single organisation, leaving large gaps of understanding when customers interact with competitors.  In a post GDPR world, where customers can choose to share information as they see fit, thinking needs to shift from “what data do I have?” to, “what data do I need and what am I prepared to give to access it?”

2.   True loyalty programmes – Loyalty programmes to date have been successful at identifying and rewarding the small volume of customers responsible for a disproportionate volume of sales. They have not, however, recognised that these same customers are also likely to be the highest spenders with the competition too. Asking customers to share data such as card spend or competitor loyalty data (and rewarding them for doing so), could give visibility of spend across an entire category, thereby allowing the development of true loyalty propositions.

3.   Greater understanding & measurement – Accessing data from other sources opens the door to more accurate and in-depth measurement of marketing results. Marketing departments that are short on analytical resource and sophistication, may need to consider how they can take advantage of the opportunities available.

4.   Cull of unused data – The GDPR data portability regulations covers data that is “actively provided” as well as data that is “generated by his or her activity”. What this means in practice, is that any data you store on customers must be available to others, including your competitors, on request. So, if you are not making use of all of the data you hold be aware because someone else might!

5.    Growth of data repositories – Given the heightened awareness of the use and value of personal data, some customers may choose an alternative route and opt to hold their personal data in an anonymised data store. A number of companies such as the Hub of All Things already exist and are likely to become important alternative providers of crowd sourced solutions for those that choose not to share personal data openly.

If you would like to discuss any of the ideas that are raised here or understand how your brand can better prepare for life after GDPR, please contact me via LinkedIn.

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