Location-Based Services: The #1 Most-Wanted Mobile Feature. Here’s Why. (Research)

People want to be found.

Among the key findings from this year’s just-released TNS annual Mobile Life study, which explores mobile use among 48,000 people in 58 countries:  the majority of people around the world now recognize the value of sharing their location to benefit from a range of services.  Access to location-based services is the mobile feature projected to grow the most on a global basis: 62% of those who don’t yet use the location-based services want them.

Almost one fifth (19%) of the world’s six billion mobile users are already using LBS. Navigation via maps and GPS is currently the most popular application, used by 46%.  The stats on other LBS-based applications:

  • Check-in applications have grown 50% in the last year:  13% of current social network users are ‘checking-in’ through platforms like Foursquare or Facebook Places
  • One in five (22%) of LBS users are using applications designed to help them find their friends nearby.
  • 26% use the technology to find restaurants and entertainment venues
  • Transportation: 19% check public transport schedules, and 8% use them to book a taxi

Checking In For a Deal

Interestingly, savvy LBS users have realised that there is value to be gained from sharing their locations with brands and retailers.  One in eight (12.5%) share their location in exchange for deals or special offers.  One in five mobile users (21%) stated that they find mobile advertising interesting if it is offering them a deal near their current location.  One-third of people globally (33%) who use or would like to use mobile vouchers, are very interested in receiving deals when they are near a store that they like.

“People are realising that sharing their location often offers some kind of reward in terms of a discount or deal. It is the combination of time and context – directing people towards a deal when they can easily redeem it – that unlocks a powerful tool for marketers to develop precise targeting approaches,” said James Fergusson, Global Head, Digital & Technology Practice, at TNS. 

Interest in Location-Based Services Varies By … Location

The TNS study did find significant variations in people’s reasons for embracing the service across different markets.  Latin Americans are most likely to use the feature to find friends, with 39% stating it as the top reason to share their location, compared to only 20% in Europe, 11% in India and just 9% in North America.

In the technology-saturated markets of developed Asia, 36% of people use location services to find restaurants and entertainment venues nearby, whereas in China this falls to 17%, and sub-Saharan Africa, at 10%.

This means that, while location-based services offer marketers unprecedented opportunities to deliver value to customers in a time-, place-, and interest-specifc way, marketers do need to have regional strategies.  But, as Fergusson points out, “where brands get it right, we have seen significant rewards in terms of brand engagement, loyalty and sales.”