Speaking to our members about how their personal data is used

Last month, the data team blogged about how we want to become trusted with our members’ data. We said that one of the pieces of work we’re doing to help us strengthen our position of trust is around understanding how members feel about personal data. We wanted to find out what our members thought about their data being used and shared for various things.

A survey to start

We asked members to take part in a survey. 148 people completed it but not everyone answered every question.

Here are 5 things we’ve learnt so far.

1. 50% want more transparency around how data is used1.2.50%-want-to-know-more

Half of the people who took the survey said they’d like to know more about how personal information is used by organisations and businesses, but they don’t know how to find out. To set the Co-op apart from the rest, we should be clear about how we’re using this information and, if people want even more information, we should make that easy to find.

This leads us to our next learning…

2. Members would like to understand how their data is used

We asked members whether they thought they understood enough about how organisations use their personal information.

Three out of 10 members said they feel they know enough or everything about this. Which leaves 7 out of 10 wanting more information or having no idea about how personal information is used. That’s good to know. It indicates we should be explaining more about what we do, and what we don’t do, with member data.

3. What people do before trusting someone with their data

When it comes to thinking about trusting an organisation with personal details, only 2% of people said that didn’t do anything before hitting the submit button.

We asked: “Which of the following do you routinely do before submitting personal information?” The most popular answer was: “Make sure I amend my marketing preferences.” “Check for secure symbols/assurance marks on the website” was a close second.

Only 3 out of 10 people said that they read the terms and conditions or small print though. We think that we could go further in making our privacy notices easier to understand and more likely to be read and understood.

4. Members are happy to share their data for the right reasons

We asked our members if there were any reasons why they’d be happy for us to safely and anonymously share their data. Unsurprisingly for Co-op members, 70% said they’d be happy if it benefited the local community! Some of the comments around this were “Because the Coop is for local people”, “Local community is important” and “Because it’s for a worthwhile reason”.

One respondent said that although they don’t like the idea of their data being shared, the best reason to do it would be if it helped the local community. That person emphasised that their data must be safe and whoever has the data must be accountable. We completely agree and we’ll continue to prioritise data safety. We will also continue to speak to our Member Council and Members as we go.

5. People trust us

Over three quarters (76%) of our respondents said that they trust us to keep their data safe and to use it sensibly (79%). This is also good news. However we can’t sit back and relax on that one. We know that we must do the right thing, not the easy thing in order to bring our Co-op difference to data. We’ll continue to work in the open.

image shows text that says: People trust us and a graphic of two hands shaking an the Co-op logo

Turning learnings into policy

We’ll look at and analyse the feedback we got from the survey more closely to pick up more themes. But the conversation around whether we use and share member data, and how we do it, isn’t closed now. We’re still listening to your thoughts on this. Over the next few months we will start to discuss improvements to our policies around data and, with a lot more information and discussion start to make those policies real.

Tell us what you think

We’re holding an event Shaping our Co-op: Data trust and transparency event at Federation House on Friday 19 May, 5:15 to 7:30pm. You can register for tickets.

We’d like to speak to members regardless of how much you know about how your data is and can be used, as well as people with an interest in data consent. The only prerequisite is that you have an interest in doing the right thing for members.

Rob McKendrick
Head of Data Engineering

7 thoughts on “Speaking to our members about how their personal data is used

  1. smithdavidwales May 16, 2017 / 11:50 pm

    Sorry out of the country so cannot attend. In any event why should i have to travel, over 6 hours, at a cost of £60 to attend? Your operation feels very much about being a Manchester hub! Why should that be for a UK wide organisation?

    In my view using consumer / member data to practically promote / support health is the significant issue i would expect the Digital Team to focus upon. The chosen focus has its appeal and no doubt is important to those writing it, but surely you need to give clearer thought to what instigated the consumer revolution at Rochdale all those years ago.

    Whilst, i am typing (sic) I find the weekly blogs poorly written and full of American / nerdy type jargon. Unsure who is meant to find this appealing? And as for congratulating people on being appointed / promoted – this feels a very internal form of communication & saying little or anything about the person.


    • gailalyon May 17, 2017 / 11:50 am

      Sorry to hear that you can’t make the event. We will be live streaming the event on our YouTube channel because we realise that not everyone can attend physical meetings, particularly when they live in other parts of the country. We believe in communicating in the open to be transparent about the work we do. We work hard to write in plain English in a way that is accessible for everyone – but we can always do better. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Gail.


      • londonhoggle June 7, 2017 / 11:16 am

        “particularly when they live in other parts of the country”

        Just to push back slightly on this phrase Gailalyon,

        I do hope you realise that 9/10ths of the 12.6 million share account holders of the co-op group DO NOT live within the M60, and of the thousands who do hold share accounts within the M60 as many are sadly deceased as made it to your function on Friday.

        The M60 may seem like a big area, just as the M25 might seem big for a person like me who rarely leaves 10 square miles of my home rather than the 250 sq miles with M25, but the co-op group is a nationwide co-op. Its digital userbase does spread further than people who can make it to Federation House a hour after work on a Friday.

        I DID PARTAKE in the LIVESTREAMING, but youtube alone is a not a membership proposition for the many share capital holders the co-op already has, never mind the many millions more we should hope to start to recruit if we might one day return to being a proper and successful co-op by international standards, on global comparisons. tCG can no longer keep surviving on on the membership of the buried dead and our tiddler size and balance sheet: We are too small: how will we grow: Digital hopefully as that is modern and cheap///


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