Mobile Payments: This Year’s ‘Faster Horse’

Predicting the popularity of new innovations is not for the faint of heart and can quickly enter the murky realm of crystal-ball gazing or ‘guestimation’. The reason for this is the ‘faster horse’ conundrum, whereby people don’t know that they want a product or service before it’s widely available.  Kantar Media is confident it can make such a bold forecast on the uptake of mobile payment technologies, and it’s about to hit the mainstream.

For the as-yet-uninitiated, mobile payment technologies such as Apple Pay and BPay (from Barclaycard) allow users to pay for goods and services securely using their mobile phone, thus taking another step towards a cashless society. 

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The nascent technology is in its infancy with 3% of GB consumers having used them, however Kantar Media’s Futureproof study indicates further interest exists and that it might be even greater than people currently know.

Although it’s very unlikely that he ever actually said it, Henry Ford is often quoted as saying that if he’d asked people what they wanted, they’d have told him they desired a faster horse, instead of a car.  Clearly, he did not have our statistical boffins working for him.  After undertaking advanced propensity modeling they forecast that in addition to the 18% of adults who have stated an interest in mobile payments, a further 10% are likely to be interested, despite not, as yet, knowing it.

Propensity Modelling is a statistical technique that is used to predict likely consumer behaviour based on the matching of key attributes amongst those who are currently interested or using the product or service.

So, who are those currently interested in mobile payment technologies? 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, they fit the archetypal Tech-Hipster profile. They are in the younger age brackets, 60% are aged 16-34, (31% of the population). They are also more likely to be male (56% vs 49% of population). 

This is a group who are social peacocks – they are more likely than the average Briton to agree that it’s important that their family thinks they are doing well (47% vs 33%), they wear designer clothes (30% vs 12%), they enjoy owning good quality things (68% vs 56%) and they enjoy splashing out on meals (52% vs 42%). However, they are not simply materialistic, they are also attitudinally progressive – 48% agree that they like to be surrounded by different people, cultures, ideas and lifestyles (38% for population) and they are more likely to have an interest in the arts and consider themselves creative.  

Encouragingly for retailers, this audience is affluent – earning 25% more than the average. Futureproof data shows that they already own the required mobile devices in order to actually use the technologies too – 96% own a smartphone (vs 70% of the population) and 75% own a tablet (vs 55% of the population).

Whilst clearly it’s important to get the early adopters on board, the next wave of take-up will break mobile payments into the mainstream, so the potential prospect group is key to future success. Futureproof data demonstrates who this group is as well as identifying key messages that for cultivating interest.

These ‘potential prospects’ have a similar demographic profile to their already enlightened hot prospect counterparts. However, although still earning more than the average, the potential prospects are less affluent earning an average of £27,574 per year, this compares with £30,343 for the hot prospects and £24,248 in the wider population. They are more likely to find it more difficult to cope on their current income than the hot prospects (20% vs 16% of hot prospects and 15% of the general population).

This group is generally less enthusiastic when it comes to new technologies. They are less likely to be interested in wearable tech and to keep up to date with developments in technology in general (51% vs 56% of hot prospects). Promotion of mobile payments should be benefit-centric rather than technology focused.

So what benefits should be communicated? Convenience and ‘faster purchases’ are key motivators for those interested already whereas targeting core barriers such as the impact on battery life and security may help to encourage trial and ensure that mobile payment technologies break into the mainstream.

Whilst still a mystery to many, a benefit-led communication campaign should help the take-up of mobile payment technologies quickly gain pace and see them jockey for position as a key player in the cashless society of the future.

Mobile Payment Infographic

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