Understanding the Demand for a Future with Privacy-enhanced Recommendation Systems: A Mixed Method Study

Anna Elkins & Johanna Christin Jevinger

Student thesis: Master thesis


Advancements in communication technology has allowed for the emergence of recommendations that are more knowledgeable and personalized to the user than ever. Yet, in order for specific recommendation systems to accurately determine users’ preferences, they need to acquire the user’s personal information. As a consequence, users are expressing their concern for how their personal data is handled by companies’ online. Despite this, consumers are still demanding recommendations while shopping on a company's website, and this has led to a privacy paradox. While this phenomenon has already become a highly discussed and relevant topic within the marketing industry, little research has been conducted in this area. Consequently, this study aims at finding a solution to bridge this privacy paradox between consumers’ online data privacy and companies’ use of recommendation systems from a communication standpoint. This research focuses on understanding consumer perceptions on privacy concerns and how it affects consumer usage of recommendation systems, as well as to investigates what website attributes make consumers trust a website with their personal data through triangulation and a mixed method approach. A conceptual model is presented with the findings that aims to represent the optimal recommendation system usage and implementation, benefitting the communication strategy for companies through privacy-enhanced recommendation systems. The findings conclude that customer reviews, online chat channel, hybrid privacy disclosure, social contract, trust in legislation, award from neutral source, third-party privacy seal, familiarity, contact information and overall trust builds trust and as such reduces privacy concerns. While lack of interest, lack of knowledge, collaborating filtering, content-based filtering, information and reciprocity indirectly influence privacy concerns

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages146