United as Europeans, but divided on consent

United as Europeans, but divided on consent

David Cole | 23 May 2016

Three cheers for a good idea - the intention to create a unified data protection framework across the European Union.

Yes the law will be the same, but inconveniently those living and reacting to it are not. fast.MAP has interviewed over 27000 European consumers and asked them about marketing consent. The result is problematic.

Number of Europeans interviewed for fastMap consent research

Until now many companies have worked on the basis of ‘it’s ok to have consent statements that are not only difficult to understand but also difficult to find’. Translating the forthcoming regulation into marketing speak, it’s now about ‘being unambiguous and obtaining clear affirmative action’.

The implication is that now consumers will understand what they are committing to and therefore need to be persuaded of the merits of continuing to receive your marketing.

So while we will have one legal data protection framework across the entire European Union, lethargic lawyers (and marketers) may assume a unified permission statement will work for all consumers in all countries. This logic worked in years gone by when consumers didn’t get to see the statement and their inaction was enough to win legal consent.

How times have changed. Now the first duty of the marketer is to generate enough marketing consent to enable a brand to survive. The most effective place to do this is at the point when consent is requested – i.e. the permission statement.

To investigate the difference or similarity between consumers from a range of European countries, fast.MAP interviewed over 27000 European adults from seven different countries. The first thing we ascertained was how often consumers from these different places gave consent. Are the French as likely to give consent as the Spanish or the British? 

So fast.MAP asked people how often they agree to companies marketing to them.

Consent levels across different regions in Europe


The inconvenient truth is that the EU data protection integration project is certain to suffer from the same cultural challenges as most other EU super projects - because people are different.

So while it’s all well and good to create a level playing field, the fun doesn’t really start until we consider how to apply the law from a marketing perspective

Consider this; according to fast.MAP research, while 40% of 18-34 year olds in the UK give marketing consent, only 24% of the same age group do so in France.

And while 34% of over-55s in Spain consent to receive marketing, in France it’s only 18%.

Britain and France data consent


So a European marketing director overseeing multiple countries and cultures might be quietly confident about collecting marketing consent from older people in Spain, but terrified about the implications in France. 

Agree to marketing - European countries

What’s the answer?  Well, just as in ‘proper’ marketing, if you wouldn’t market in the same way to two demographics which exhibit different consumer behaviours, why would you present different groups with the same permission statement when marketing your company?

For consent statements to be effective across different countries, their effectiveness must be adapted and tested.

Stay tuned, because fast.MAP is undertaking ongoing international consent research and will release more results soon.


David Cole, Managing Director, fast.MAP

The IoF and fast.MAP, have launched the second edition of the tracker survey, Fundraising Media DNA 

Learn what works and why with fast.MAP research. To find out more please call 0207 242 0702 or email mark.mina@fastmap.com


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