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Brief Published: 15 Jun 2020

UK Consumers Distrust the Internet More Than Ever


UK consumers’ enthusiasm for the internet has significantly dropped over the past two years, a recent poll finds. Only 38% of respondents say it’s made life a lot better “for people like them”, compared to 50% in 2018 (Doteveryone, 2020). We explore the causes of this growing sense of mistrust, and highlight opportunities for technology brands to address consumer scepticism.

  • Company Motives in Question: According to a new survey from UK technology think tank Doteveryone, only 19% of British consumers believe tech companies design their services with people’s best interests in mind. Nearlyhalf (47%) of respondents feel they have no choice but to sign up to services despite concerns, while 45% believe there’s no point reading terms and conditions, because companies will do what they want regardless. Half (50%) of those surveyed say that people trying to cheat or harm them in some way is “part and parcel” of being online, while 58% think the industry is under-regulated. 
    Brands should make customers feel in control by providing transparency and more choice when it comes to data use. See Ready for Web 3.0? for more on the future of consumer privacy and the internet.
  • Society’s Internet Impact: People continue to feel the internet is better for them as individuals than for society as a whole. Eighty-one per cent say it’s made life a lot or a little better for “people like me”, while 58% say it’s had a very or fairly positive impact on society overall. Tech brands seeking to ensure consumer loyalty need to invest in social impact initiatives; we explore this further in EthiTech, publishing on July 3.
  • Issues to Troubleshoot: Consumers generally don’t know where to go when things go wrong online; even if they do report problems, they often don’t get any answers. Over a quarter (26%) say they’ve reported an issue – but nothing happened as a result. More than half would like more places to seek help (55%) and a more straightforward procedure for reporting tech companies (53%). To address these concerns, companies should streamline their problem-reporting systems and provide feedback at every step – easy measures which are sure to improve consumer trust.

We decode the importance of trust for brands in our recent post on The Brief. For more insights on changing consumer behaviour online, see New Survey Reveals Lockdown Digital Usage Trends