Sharing Shopping Data to Fight COVID-19 Is a Good Deal

Many people are willing to share their purchasing information to get better medical care or prevent disease from spreading, according to our survey.

Living through a pandemic like the coronavirus is stressful. Retail therapy can soothe health-related anxieties and support consumers’ favorite businesses. It also generates purchasing data that can improve healthcare. Understanding what infected or at-risk persons purchased, such as groceries or lifestyle-related products, can give medical providers more insight for treatments.

Getting consumers to give up their purchasing information isn’t a hard sell for many. In a six-nation Oliver Wyman Forum survey, many respondents were receptive to sharing their personal data, or having that data reused, if it gained them better medical care or was used for disease prevention. The willingness to share data was similar when respondents were asked specifically about their purchases. 

Forty-two percent of all respondents said they would share their purchasing data to both ensure their medical care was of the highest quality possible and to prevent disease from spreading further in their community. Those were the most popular incentives cited for sharing purchasing data. To improve the healthcare of others, though, just 26 percent of respondents said they would be willing to share such information.  And 15 percent said they would not want to share that data at all.

Outside of Singapore, respondents were not overly motivated to share purchasing data to receive cheaper healthcare. The indifference for personal financial gain has been broadly consistent across our survey: Receiving compensation or financial benefits wasn’t a strong motivator for many in being willing to have data gathered from the pandemic re-used for other means.

More insights from the Oliver Wyman Forum’s six-nation survey on data-sharing attitudes during the COVID-19 pandemic are available here.