When all our personal data can be monetized, will privacy be a luxury for the rich? When all our personal data can be monetized, will privacy be a luxury for the rich?

Future consumers will play a more active role in controlling how companies use their personal data to create value.

When you give your data to companies, what do you expect in return? The answer today, for many consumers, is not a lot. They’ll willingly accept terms and conditions that allow a company to make money with their data, if that gives them ‘free’ access to a fun app or a useful platform. But when will that change?

A few high-profile ‘scandals’ have made some consumers think again about whether they want to share anything other than basic personal data, largely due to privacy worries. What if that reluctance developed into a deeper shift in attitudes?

What happens when consumers demand more value from companies that monetize their data?

It could be an opportunity. Companies could respond to this shift in consumer sentiment by offering better services and bespoke data use terms, all supported by greater transparency between themselves and their customers.

Blockchain technology could provide a secure platform for the monetization of an individual’s most personal attitudinal and behavioral data. How much would your bank – or your grocer or physician – pay to understand the best way to activate and maintain you as a customer?

As people recognize and understand the financial value of their data, they could make different choices about what they share and with whom.

Then again, if people who chose not to share their data had to pay for a service that others get for free, perhaps opting out would become something only the relatively well-off could afford. Privacy would be the greatest form of luxury.

The possibility that a new privacy paradigm will emerge, and the challenges and opportunities this could create, is one of the deep social fissures we’re exploring in our FutureConsumer.Now program.

Does it matter to consumers how their data is used, as long as they benefit from that use?

In the future world we modeled, new technologies would make consumers more aware of the specific value of their data, and better able to control this value. Their relationship with brands and the media/entertainment industry would change, as they became significant creators of valuable content – rather than just consumers of content.

In a very different world modeled by a team at our London hack, data and influence reshaped the relationship between consumers and brands. It was something they traded, with incentives and rewards for both sides. This data sharing was governed and controlled by AI ‘confidantes’ – a super-smart evolution from the voice-controlled helpers that sit in on many kitchen counters today. In this world, they become so attuned to the needs of their ‘owner’ that they intuitively decide when to share and what to share in exchange for returns that the owner will value.


As consumers become more aware of how companies collect and use their personal data, attitudes about what they share and what they expect in return will change.