Are You Willing To Pay More For Privacy?

Online shoppers are willing to pay a premium to buy from sites that have a clearly stated privacy policy, according to a recent study from Carnegie Mellon University. The study divided 276 people into three groups: one group received no information about the sites, another group received irrelevant information about the sites, and the final group received privacy information on the sites from Privacy Finder.

When participants were asked to purchase both batteries and a

…there was almost no difference in the price paid between the group that received no information and the group that received irrelevant information. The group that received the privacy information did show quite a difference from the group with no information, however–participants in group 3 paid $0.59 more for the batteries and $0.62 more for the vibrator.

Privacy Finder only works for the few shopping sites that have a computer-readable privacy policy known as a P3P policy; Barnes and Noble has one, but Amazon does not. Before giving personal information to any site, you should always check out any associated policies or terms and conditions. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

Americans willing to pay (a little) more for privacy [Ars Technica]
The Effect of Online Privacy Information on Purchasing Behavior: An Experimental Study (PDF) [Carnegie Mellon University]
Privacy Finder


Edit Your Comment

  1. Crazytree says:

    I think the conclusion is correct but the logic is wrong.

    Perhaps retailers with a more consumer-oriented privacy policy are ALSO better retailers that are more disposed to take care of their customers?

  2. bohemian says:

    I wouldn’t purchase something personal or embarrassing that could be identified by the store with my check card. Our branch manager admitted she skims through people’s transactions frequently “checking for problems”.

    I got so tired of the constant cash register marketing that I have started using cash more and refusing to give them any information. The places I know do the most data collecting I either don’t shop at anymore or I only pay in cash. Old Navy, Linens N Things, Best Buy etc.

  3. TVarmy says:

    I’m honestly always looking for some sort of verification of privacy, not because I’m afraid someone will look at what I’m buying, but because I think it means the dealer is more reputable and won’t try to scam off of my credit card. 19/20 items I buy, I have no problem with people seeing.

  4. Ariah says:

    These rankings are pretty weird. I find it hard to believe that most people would be more concerned about privacy when buying ammunition than when buying an HIV test, for instance.

  5. Papa Midnight says:

    @Crazytree: I am forced to agree

  6. Alvis says:

    It’s shocking what people are afraid to buy. I expect only a fraction of commercial fertilizers to contain ammonium nitrate, and even still, then at a fraction of their total mass. Yet their’s this mass fertilizer=bomb parts hysteria that prevails.

  7. jeffj-nj says:

    This survey was conducted in America, right? I mean, looking down the list of items, it certainly seems like it would be. Only we would be so ashamed of sex and/or anything sexually related.

  8. Ben Popken says: