"How Did They Get My Name?": An Exploratory Investigation of Consumer Attitudes Toward Secondary Information Use

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Abstract

Strategic uses of information technology based on personal information may raise privacy concerns among consumers if these applications do not reflect a common set of values. This study addresses what differentiates consumers who object to certain uses of personal information from those who do not object. Data collected by questionnaire from young consumers are used to identify a research approach for investigating attitudes toward the secondary use of personal information for direct marketing. Secondary information use occurs when personal information collected for one purpose is subsequently used for a different purpose. While secondary information use is both widespread and legal, it may be viewed as an invasion of privacy when it occurs without the knowledge or consent of the consumer. The setting for the study is the use of point-of-sale data from a supermarket frequent shopper program to generate direct mail solicitations.

Control emerges as a clear theme in differentiating individuals with positive overall attitudes toward secondary information use from those with negative attitudes. Study participants with positive attitudes are less concerned about privacy (measured as control over personal information), perceive shopping by mail as beneficial, and have coping strategies for dealing with unwanted mail. The results also suggest that theory related to categorization of strategic issues as positive-negative with outcomes that are controllable/uncontrollable provides a basis for understanding differences in the ways individuals perceive practices involving personal information. Future research should focus on the specific characteristics of secondary use practices, including the sensitivity of the information, its source, its perceived relevance to the original transaction, and whether disclosure reflects informed consent or results in a potentially harmful outcome to the individual

Additional Details

Author Mary J. Culnan
Year 1993
Volume 17
Issue 3
Keywords Privacy, direct marketing, consumer attitudes
Page Numbers 341-363