Why and How Often Consumers Share Location Data

Even in the post-CCPA era, location data is up for grabs—if companies can convince consumers that they have a legitimate reason for collecting it and are prepared to keep it safe. That’s the top-line finding from a survey of more than 1,300 US consumers by HEROW, a contextual mobile marketing platform.

Americans are divided into three tiers as far as willingness to disclose location data goes. About 36% always or often share their location with apps that demand it; 32% sometimes do so; and 32% usually or always say no. Unsurprisingly, younger people and those who frequently use apps are more likely to share their locations.

Location is among the types of data consumers are most likely to weigh disclosing based on the utility of the scenario. Asked about eight different types of data, including marital status, social security number, and physical address, a higher percentage of survey respondents said whether they’ll share location data “depends” on the situation than for any other category. It’s neither an automatic yes or no; companies need to make a case.

The three most crucial factors in consumers’ decision-making processes about sharing location data were the ability to control if and how their data would be used (74%); a clear reason or use case for which the data is requested (70%); and a method to control when and how long the data collector would use the consumer’s information.

The report indicates there is ample room for improvement on these metrics. Just 29% said they feel in control or mostly in control of their location data, 34% said location data collection is “an invasion of privacy,” and 27% said they don’t see enough value from disclosing their location.

Of course, the report also tells us that some consumers just don’t care about who collects their location. A fifth of respondents said location sharing “doesn’t bother” them. But clearing a low bar has never been the standard for ethical and effective business practices, and in the CCPA era, the bar is rising all the time.

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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. Shoot him an email at jzappa@streetfightmag.com.