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The role of data privacy in marketing


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.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    An excellent example involves Indian citizens’ widespread rejection of the Free Basics initiative by Facebook, which offered people limited access to the internet, including Facebook and select other websites. Mass protests occurred in the country to advocate for net neutrality and open access for all. This outcome surprised many experts who viewed the offer as an important step toward connectivity for the poor. Facebook has launched, or plans to launch Free Basics in more than 30 other developing and impoverished countries (BBC News).

  2. 2.

    The EFF index is comprised of five key protection areas including (1) following industry best practices, (2) telling users about government data demands, (3) disclosing data retention policies, (4) disclosing content removal requests, and (5) opposing government backdoor access to data (www.eff.org).


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The authors are grateful for the insightful feedback of the Editor-in-Chief and the anonymous reviewers.

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Correspondence to Kelly D. Martin.

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Martin, K.D., Murphy, P.E. The role of data privacy in marketing. J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. 45, 135–155 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11747-016-0495-4

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  • Privacy
  • Big data
  • Ethics
  • Review article