Research Insights 18.3 The Role of Data Privacy in Marketing

Marketing, Society, Sustainability, and Ethics

Source: Martin, K.D., and Murphy, P.E. (2017). The role of data privacy in marketing. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 45(2), 135–55.

Abstract: This paper captures the current state of privacy scholarship in marketing and related disciplines. We examine theoretical perspectives and empirical findings about data and information privacy grouped according to privacy's role in society, the psychology of privacy, and the economics of privacy. Although a coherent subset of research themes provide deep understanding, theoretical and empirical findings show this narrow focus also has constrained our view of privacy to consumer, organizational, ethical, or legal silos. In response, we take a necessary step toward expanding the privacy domain across these borders, emphasizing the compelling synergies that span multiple interests. We conclude by highlighting future research themes that embody a multidimensional approach, which blends the many interconnected concerns that feature in contemporary privacy questions in marketing. Since internal and external stakeholders are affected in multiple and potentially unforeseen ways by data privacy issues, additional work in this space remains critical and needed.


This recent article maps and summarizes the field of study on marketing and data privacy. It offers an overview of current knowledge in this area and identifies several important research questions that needs to be tackled in the future. The article also reviews differences among companies’ approaches to the management of privacy issues. The authors question current practice and show how consumers actually see certain practices that are currently common (for example the use of cookies and other techniques to track their online activity) as a cause for concern. One contention advanced in this article is that firms who are committed to protect the privacy of their customers will be rewarded with improved trust and loyalty in the long term.