There are an increasing number of surveys about data privacy — now coming almost weekly. These studies help gauge consumer sentiment but are typically fairly abstract. By contrast, privacy and data sharing are often highly situational.

Emerging privacy narrative. At the highest level, most of these recent surveys tell some version of the following story:

  • Consumer concern about data privacy is growing.
  • Consumers are now more engaged with online privacy, often changing settings or denying access to their data (e.g., location).
  • Consumers want more control over who can access/use their data.
  • Many consumers remain confused about how their data is used by marketers and brands.
  • Consumers (especially younger adults) are willing to share data under specific circumstances, when benefits are clear and they understand how it’s being used.

A new survey of 1,002 smartphone users in the U.S., commissioned by location intelligence provider Factual, reinforces this general narrative, with a few twists.

Generational differences. Among different generations, the Factual survey confirms the conventional wisdom that younger users are less privacy sensitive than older adults. Baby Boomers are the age group most concerned about privacy; Gen Z and Millennials are the “least concerned.” However, 53% of Gen Z and 51% of Millennials were either “somewhat” or “very” concerned about data privacy.

Concerns about data privacy by generation

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