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Most shoppers happy to share location data with retailers, but want more regulation on how it is used

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The majority of shoppers (74%) are happy to share their location data with third parties such as retailers, but almost all of them (72%) fear that companies are not taking adequate steps to ensure the responsible use of the data – and regulations are inadequate to police it.

The apparently contradictory findings were revealed in a survey conducted by Lightspeed GMI amongst 1,000 mobile phone users for Brainstorm and the Mobile Marketing Association, which sought to examine the public’s attitudes towards the use of location based services.

Whilst in general consumers are willing to share their location data, they are seeking reassurances that they won’t be bombarded by adverts, or that there is a tangible social benefit like fighting crime or improvements in health care, or that there is a personal enticement such as a money-off voucher, the study found.

For those willing to allow location data to be collected, certain other reassurances are also important; 32% want their details to remain anonymous, while 27% want transparency into the proposed usage of the data and 25% insist on actively opting in.

There was also mixed feelings regarding who they most trust with their location information: whilst most (43%) discern no difference, app providers were least likely to be trusted with the information, whilst government bodies and mobile/broadband operators were more trusted.

When probed about what concerns people had about sharing their location data; both security (34%) and privacy (34%) were equal causes for concern followed by a worry that information could be shared with third parties without their explicit permission (21%), whilst spam and unwanted adverts were a minor issue (9%).

Donald Stuart, CEO of Brainstorm comments: “Whilst the survey shows that the vast majority of us clearly appreciate the personal and social benefits of sharing our location data, it’s not surprising in this post-Snowden era, that there is a demand for further reassurances and transparency surrounding the privacy of location based data.”

There’s little doubt that in our data-centric world the use of location based data, in conjunction with other intelligence, can improve our lives in innumerable ways beyond traditional marketing promotions, including areas such as: logistics, transportation, disaster warning and healthcare. Businesses and governments should be encouraged by the fact that the public largely embraces the use of this data and they must continue to find ways to prove its value to their customers and citizens, and reassure them of their appropriate stewardship of their data.”

Chris Babayode, Managing Director of the MMA in EMEA adds: “Technology in mobile marketing has moved on at such a fast pace that smart businesses are recognising the competitive advantage they can create in using location based data to enhance their customers journey and engagement levels with their products and services. This can happen in a variety of innovative ways through mobile to – both literally and metaphorically – understand their consumers’ behaviour and place it at the centre of what they are offering.”

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