Service or Surveillance? A Casestudy of Opportunities and Challenges Brought by Data-Driven Communication

Sara Anna Rønnest & Kamilla Mist Guðmundsdottir

Student thesis: Master thesis


Purpose // This thesis sets out to investigate the opportunities and challenges brought by data-driven communication with offset in an explorative case study. Overall, this thesis examines the topic of data-driven communication through the case of Georg Jensen Damask’s omni-channel strategy. To answer this, the thesis is structured around three sub questions to analyse and discuss; Firstly, why Georg Jensen Damask apply data-driven communication. Secondly how consumer perceive and experience this communication and thirdly how Georg Jensen Damask potentially can react to the consumers’ thoughts on the subject. This thesis, contributes to the debate concerning whether data can be seen as service or personalized surveillance. Consumers produce digital data constantly and are increasingly becoming more transparent to companies. The availability of consumers’ data has become the essence for personalized communication. By analysing and understanding consumers data, companies are given new communicative tools in order to produce personalized communication. However, this raises questions of consumers’ digital privacy. Theory // The theoretical framework is structured around two opposite views of data; One view believes that data collection is a beneficial tool for marketers to produce relevant communication and hence understands this as a service to consumers. However, the other view is concerned, that the extraction and utilization of data exploit consumers and is a violation of individuals digital privacy. We define these two opposite views as Service versus Surveillance. Throughout the analysis, we apply relevant theories, models and concepts in order to answer the research question. Methodology // In order to answer the research question, this paper takes its stand in a case study through the Danish textile brand Georg Jensen Damask. Through the primary view on knowledge creation, the social constructivist perspective acknowledges that results are created in a social interaction and hence seeks to create a nuanced understanding of the topic concerning data-driven communication. Consequently, the qualitative method is perceived to be beneficial in order to answer the research question. Four primary empirical studies are conducted: Three qualitative in-depth interviews with employees from Georg Jensen Damask and a focus group interview with the target group. Results // Results are derived from the three sub questions. Firstly, we found that Georg Jensen Damask perceives data extraction and utilization as a service for consumers. Moreover, the company perceives data as a mean to increase profit, affecting consumer behaviour and as valuable in order to match external demands. Secondly, it was found that consumers have clear privacy concerns regarding how data is collected and used. We detected an uneven exchange between consumers and companies generally, due to digital structures. It was found that consumers view trust as an important factor in evaluating the digital exchange. Moreover, we detected consumers wish for more control over data as well as a demand for relevant communication, although too relevant communication fosters further privacy concerns. Thirdly, it was found, that Georg Jensen Damask can reflect upon consumers perception of data-driven communication, by considering the thin line between service and surveillance. Georg Jensen Damask could further contemplate the use of consumers’ data for personalized communication. Subsequently, the unequal power balance between companies and consumers could potentially be minimized by introducing more transparency and giving consumers more control over their data. Conclusion // This thesis concludes the potential opportunities and challenges that Georg Jensen Damask might face when using data for communicative purposes to consumers. The identified opportunities and challenges reflect two separate point of views on data; Service and Surveillance. Ultimately it is concluded, that Georg Jensen Damask could consider the balance in utilizing the opportunities, that data-driven communication might bring as a service but simultaneously being aware of the challenges this type of communication also can bring in terms of surveillance.

EducationsMSc in Organisational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages235