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Compliance is not an end in itself. While the GDPR has a significant effect on marketing strategies by imposing new standards to be incorporated, it also pushes brands to adopt a new consumer-centric policy oriented towards authenticity. The opportunity for brands is to make a commitment to transparency, an essential criterion in communications today. Adapt your marketing strategy, the first keys after GDPR…


The GDPR: a question of image?

With the GDPR, marketing strategies are no longer conceived in the same way. At the heart of these new regulations are the concepts of ‘privacy by design’ and ‘privacy by default’, which make data protection a priority, starting with the design of technologies or content. These concepts also mean that users have the possibility of accessing their data and modifying them.

By giving users control over their own data, the GDPR is responding to two decades of marketing practices, where data gathered online were exploited without any real consent from their owners. This type of behaviour, adopted by many players on the web, helped create a poor image of these brands. They were seen as opaque, dodgy, and sometimes even as breaking the law… These pejorative descriptions can have a strong impact on revenues given today’s context, where people are increasingly turning towards ethical, responsible brands.

Compliant out of obligation, but transparent by choice

Just a few years ago, marketing strategies showcased the product as being the most important. Today, it’s the brand (and the customer experience) that is highlighted in communications: its history, its spirit, and its values. This change has gone hand-in-hand with a new way of consuming: now, the closeness of the relationship between a brand and its target plays an essential role in the purchase process. To build this close relationship, transparency and authenticity are key for modern brands.

The GDPR is moving in this direction: the regulations are founded on a consumer-centric approach and go even further. The regulations, which are technically an update of a 1978 law, are actually crucial for users. While brands have been using marketing based on ethical approaches for the past decade, the GDPR is the first translation of this messaging into law. Companies have too much to lose if they don’t comply! While the financial sanctions are already significant, the risk to a company’s reputation is even greater.


Towards new marketing strategies

In terms of marketing, the GDPR does not really change the situation. While databases are shrinking significantly because of the requirement of obtaining explicit consent from users, those databases are actually just becoming more relevant, and thus more powerful. Similarly, the regulations push brands to continue down a path that they’re already on: mass marketing is on track to disappear. Brands are now in a ‘consumer-centric’ mindset and are offering targeted, adapted, personalised messages.

Moreover, the GDPR is reminding marketing professionals that it is time to revamp KPIs: focus less on quantity and more on quality. The keyword for these new strategies is engagement, whether in regards to social media or otherwise. This means focusing more on the efficiency of strategies instead of on time-consuming management of databases that are too big and that lack relevance, with the goal of returning communications to their primary objective.


To ensure compliance with the GDPR, the regulations call for a key independent position at companies: the Data Protection Officer, or DPO, who makes sure that brands are in compliance. This new position, serving all departments, is gradually being implemented by companies and will likely run up against many obstacles. While the GDPR is accelerating changes, some people remain quite reticent about getting on board.