As the digital landscape evolves, the intersection of data collection, privacy concerns, and personalized marketing strategies becomes increasingly complex. While much is known about consumers' rights and perceptions, there remains a significant gap in understanding how retail enterprises are shaped by the delicate balance between data utilization and privacy considerations. 

A fake image of a store and people in it going around and surfing on the phones.

Several frameworks and laws have been introduced in a short time with the aim of protecting consumers' digital data from exploitation by companies that collect information using technical tools. At the same time, successful personalized digital marketing is based on the collection of data about customers' behaviors and preferences. While we know a lot about consumers' rights regarding their digital data, how they experience and behave in terms of privacy and personal integrity, and their view on data collection, there is almost a complete lack of knowledge about how individual retail companies or the industry as a whole are shaped by this tension that is inherent in customer data. Even less is known about how companies should act strategically to meet privacy requirements while achieving relevant and value-creating personalized digital marketing: What strategies can retailers use to alleviate the tension in customer data? In what ways can personalization be worked with that also respects customers' privacy?

Project implementation

The project combines workshops and case studies.

In the first step, retailers and experts in law, personalization, and digital marketing gather in a workshop to explore practical, knowledge-based, and strategic challenges together. The workshop is an opportunity for all participants in the project to jointly explore strategic needs and relevant questions that inform and specify the focus in the case study.

In the second step, a multiple case study is conducted in the form of interviews with Swedish retailers with the aim of mapping a breadth of experiences, viewpoints, and practical responses to better understand how companies are individually shaped, but also how the market is affected and responds with new solutions. The case studies explore a breadth of experiences, competencies, and systems that companies engage in as a response to a market where regulations and conflicts of interest arise from the collection and use of customer data. Through the case studies, we achieve a deeper and broader understanding of how the retail market and individual companies respond strategically and operationally, and thereby can generate recommendations adapted to the reality in which retailers operate.

In a third step, a workshop is organized that once again gathers retailers and experts, who together with the researchers use the results of the case study and a mapping of solutions on the market to iterate strategic opportunities and practical recommendations for individual retailers, both large and small. In this final workshop, market-shaping strategy theory is applied to iterate a strategic program that will help retailers better comply with laws that protect consumer privacy, while also continuing with personalized digital marketing and better understanding how the market continues to be shaped by legal requirements and technical opportunities for data collection.


  • Project size: 1 999 310
  • Project period: 2024 - 2026
  • Project owner: Handelsrådet


Project team

Project leader

Johan Hagberg
Göteborgs universitet

Researchers in the project

Johan Hagberg, project leader, University of Gothenburg

Christian Fuentes, Lund University

Kristina Bäckström, Lund University

Alexander Flaig, Linköping University

Patrik Stoopendahl, University of Borås