EOS Survey “What's the value of data?”

Representative survey of consumers in Europe, Russia and the USA about data and its value.

Digital data have become a key economic asset. Companies collect, analyze and interpret data to optimize their business models. This is why the responsible handling of data and the need for it to be valued are increasingly a topic of public debate: What do consumers think about disclosing their data? Are they willing to sell personal information? And how do companies build trust for the use of data?

The representative international survey conducted by the EOS Group on the subject “What’s the value of data?” provides answers to these questions. The online poll was conducted in 17 countries in the spring of 2020 by Kantar, one of the world's leading market research institutes.

About the survey “What's the value of data?”

  • New EOS survey on the topic “What’s the value of data?”


    1,000 respondents aged 18 years and over from each country.

  • New EOS survey on the topic “What’s the value of data?”


    15 countries in Europe plus the USA and Russia.

  • New EOS survey on the topic “What’s the value of data?”


    Online poll using standardized questionnaire.

Digital trust as a challenge

Companies under intense pressure

Anyone wanting to use certain digital services nowadays often provides companies with personal data in return, for example, contact and personal details, information on purchasing behaviors, account details or health facts. This allows products and services to be adapted to customer preferences and market trends. However, the EOS survey shows that the disclosure of data by consumers is crucially dependent on trust. And this is precisely where there is still a lot of work to be done: Only 35 percent of Germans trust companies to handle their personal information. The greatest challenge for companies will therefore be to break down this lack of trust through the appropriate and transparent use of data.

  • Skepticism

    There is a greater willingness to share data if companies are regarded as trustworthy. But many consumers are skeptical. In Europe, for example, only 33 percent believe that companies handle digital data responsibly.

  • Lack of knowledge

    This skepticism is often characterized by uncertainty: In Europe and Russia, an average of one in three users rarely takes advantage of the options available for erasing online traces, e.g., by blocking tracking cookies. In Germany, more than half of the respondents (52%) said they (sometimes) did not know how to restrict the unwanted use of their data.

Trust ranking by sector

The survey revealed that apart from uncertainty about how to systematically limit the disclosure of personal information, the majority of German internet users often feel forced to provide data (Germany: 63%, Europe: 66%, USA: 58%, Russia: 81%). The fact that certain services can only be used in full by providing a lot of data reinforces the lack of trust in companies and explains the general skepticism that prevails.

EOS data survey: What’s the value of data?

However, there are some sectors that have a clear lead in the digital trust stakes: Leading the field are banks (Europe: 54%, USA: 56%, Russia: 54%, Germany: 47%) and online payment providers (Europe: 46%, USA: 46%, Russia: 58%, Germany: 47%). In Germany, confidence in banks is slightly more muted at 47%, on a par with payment providers. Energy utilities do similarly well (41%). In Germany, the clear losers on the trust scale are online retailers (24%), software firms (23%), and bringing up the rear, social networks and messenger services (12%). In these sectors in particular, companies should therefore invest in building trust to be able to encourage their customers to be more willing to disclose data.

  • Digital trust: Young woman using her smartphone in front of a building.

    Digital distrust in Germany

    The scepticism of Germans regarding data transfer is based, among other things, on the question of which information companies use for which purposes. EOS therefore works according to the principle of minimization. You can find out here what flexibility this brings for consumers*.

    Digital trust" in companies is not particularly good news in Germany. You can read here why the reluctance of consumers is not entirely unjustified and what companies can do.

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Data as currency

Are data the new gold?

Despite the frequent lack of trust in the responsible handling of personal data, consumers continue to reveal this data every day. Data is the basis that allows a company to better understand its customers and draw conclusions for effective business strategies. In other words, data is valuable. According to the survey, the majority of respondents believe that they should be compensated for the use of their data. Many are even prepared to sell certain kinds of data to trustworthy companies, but there are limits.

Key results in Germany

  • More than a third of Germans would reveal personal data for specific compensation.

  • Particularly popular forms of compensation are material rewards or discounts, while services or loyalty scheme bonuses are less attractive.

  • Around 60 percent of Germans are most likely to sell information on purchasing decisions and preferences for favorite brands and products.

In an international comparison, Germany, at 59 percent (Europe: 61%, USA: 62%, Russia: 70%) is no exception when it comes to wanting to be recompensed for disclosing data. Germans are even less cautious than their reputation would suggest, as their willingness to sell data (36%) is slightly higher than the European average (34%). The same is true of the question about who has already entered into a “data for compensation” deal (Germany: 22%, Europe: 18%). So for companies that handle personal information responsibly, there is a good opportunity to do business in Germany.

What’s the value of data? Infographic “Data for compensation”

Great opportunities for companies to buy data

Limitations are particularly apparent when it comes to the type of data offered for sale. For example, 61 percent of Germans are willing to provide trustworthy companies with information on their purchasing decisions and preferences for products and brands in return for money, closely followed by personal details (57%). But when it comes to fitness or health data (38% / 18%) Germans are much more cautious than the European average (51% / 31%). As in all other countries surveyed, account or credit card details, and insight into your bank account, are considered particularly sensitive. Only very few (less than 10 percent) are willing to disclose this data for compensation. Surprisingly, sensitivity about disclosing the various kinds of data is very similar overall in all countries.

Around one in three consumers in Germany would enter into a “data for compensation” deal. And as many as 78 percent would sell at least one item of personal information for money, provided the company concerned is trustworthy. When asked about specific forms of compensation, around half prefer discounts (50%) or material rewards (47%), while privileged customer status (18%), taking part in prize draws (14%) and better services (13%) are not as appealing.

  • What Germans demand selling data

    There is a great lack of clarity about the specific monetary value of data. 65 percent of Germans believe that most of the population is not aware of this value. Just under half of those who would sell data to a trustworthy company have a specific price in mind. Of these, around 43 percent would consider a sum of less than 50 euros to be appropriate.

This uncertainty about the value of data affects all consumers equally, so companies need to start making customers specific offers and in this way collect empirical data on the ideal price.

  • Smartphone user in city: Data has become a key economic asset.

    Data - Opportunity for companies

    Germans surprise with their willingness to share personal data. Companies should pay attention here. In the meantime, data has become the fuel for business decisions. You can read here about the innovations that EOS relies on.

    Read the article

The digital environment as a leveler

The survey makes clear how important it is to handle data properly. Accordingly, the pressure to act to optimize data deals is increasing in almost all sectors. There are lots of approaches that companies can take, but the greatest challenge is to respond to consumer skepticism in an appropriate way, with respect and transparency. What is surprising is that worldwide there are few differences with regard to the level of trust and experiences and attitudes of consumers about disclosing data. Whether they are in Germany, Europe, the USA or Russia, everyone will find almost the same conditions on the internet and when using online services.

Free white paper “What’s the value of data?”

For other international surveys, including on European payment practices, please visit the survey section on the EOS website.
Read press releases on the survey.

Would you like more information about our study? Please do not hesitate to contact us.

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