4 Major Takeaways About Consumer Privacy Concerns

Location data firm Factual commissioned a study conducted by the University of Southern California applied psychology master’s program to take the pulse of consumers on data privacy. Unsurprisingly, not all consumers demographic groups share the same levels and types of concern. Here are four major takeaways from the survey of 1,002 smartphone users aged 18 to 65.

All age groups are concerned, but young people less so. At least 28% of people across four generations said they were very concerned about data privacy. That should be enough to convince any institution that this issue matters. But while 28% of Gen Z said they were very concerned, 47% of Baby Boomers said the same. About half of millennials and nearly half of Gen-Z respondents said they were neutral, slightly concerned, or not concerned at all.

Identity theft and password stealing were top concerns. But more common issues for data-driven marketing also worried plenty of consumers. Fifty-nine percent said they are concerned consumers are using their personal information without explaining why or how. Fifty-three percent said they’re worried about location tracking.

Consumers are paying attention to privacy. Nearly half said they had adjusted privacy settings on their mobile phones and social websites in the past 12 months. Forty-one percent had adjusted location sharing.

Consumers aren’t so hot on location data’s use for marketing. The report says “the majority are OK” with location data’s use for marketing, specifically tailored ads. I would bet that’s closer to the truth than the numbers indicate, because people are more lax about privacy in everyday life than the high-minded answers they provide in surveys. But the numbers are not great for data-driven marketers. Only 34% of respondents said they agree or strongly agree that location data use for marketing is acceptable. Twenty-seven percent were neutral.

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Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He joined Street Fight as a contributing writer in 2015, has compiled the daily newsletter since 2016, and has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Follow him on Twitter @joe_zappa, and shoot him an email at jzappa@streetfightmag.com.
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