New Research from Gravy Analytics Finds Americans Are Open to Benefits of Location Data Despite Some Concerns

Recent survey results reveal consumers are open to sharing data for personal and societal benefits, but privacy concerns linger

According to a new survey by Gravy Analytics, a leading provider of enterprise location intelligence, consumers are open to companies using location data if it leads to benefits for them personally or for society at large.

In fact, 73% of survey respondents indicated that they share their location information to improve app functionality (e.g., navigating to their destination, showing them weather or news, or finding events in their local area, etc.). Furthermore, 39% of respondents share their location information to download and use apps for free and 23% to receive relevant ads and promotions.

When considering how location data is used to improve society, 73% of respondents would want their aggregated and anonymized location data to be used to improve emergency response management during natural disasters. Additionally, 45% would want their location data to be used to improve the quality of key public services like public transportation, and 38% would want this data used to add new amenities to communities that residents want.

When asked how they feel about companies using their location information to target or personalize information for them in an app or on a website, 31% of participants responded that they “love” or “like” it. When asked why, these respondents indicated that their top reasons were key benefits, such as receiving offers and promotions for the products or experiences that interest them (71%), seeing ads for things they want to buy or activities they want to participate in (56%), and getting a more personalized customer experience relevant to their interests and lifestyle (52%).

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While consumers recognize the personal and societal benefits of sharing location data, many consumers are concerned about data privacy and protection, as data breaches (68%) and their data being traceable to them as an individual (62%) were the top concerns among consumers.

Despite these reservations, findings suggest that consumers are more open to location data collection once they know that the data is aggregated and anonymized. More than half (54%) of consumers are at least somewhat comfortable with aggregated and anonymized location data collection and are confident that it cannot be traced back to them as an individual. This figure rises to 58% of respondents with a postgraduate degree and 60% among men.

Additional survey findings also revealed:

  • Over a third of participants who are postgraduate degree holders (38%) responded that they “love” or “like” when companies use location data to target or personalize ads to them.
  • Just 26% of consumers ages 18-34 dislike companies using location data to target ads to them. When asked why they dislike it, the top reason was that they don’t want their data being used for commercial gain (58%).
  • 40% of consumers expressed a concern that their location data might lead people to infer things about them based on the places they visit. This was the top answer among men (44%), while only 37% of women said the same.
  • Men were the most comfortable (57%) with companies using location data for various purposes once they knew that these companies remove data obtained from sensitive places of interest, such as healthcare centers, places of worship, or homeless shelters.

“While consumers are generally open to the benefits that location data can deliver to improve their lives and society at large, concerns remain and more work needs to be done to educate the public on how this information is used and how data, including data from sensitive locations, is safeguarded,” said Jeff White, founder and CEO of Gravy Analytics. “It is up to the industry to demonstrate the extensive consumer privacy measures put in place and emphasize the benefits of using this data for greater social good.”

Methodology

Gravy Analytics surveyed 1,000 consumers above the age of 18 in the U.S. using the online insights platform Pollfish. This survey was completed the week of Oct. 10, 2022.

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