[Jane Adams]As a marketing person I am supposed to be interested in what customers want but working in B2B that tends not to involve listening to consumers. In fact it isn’t unheard of for consultants in the payments space to say that we shouldn’t listen to consumers because what do they know? As Henry Ford once said, if he’d listened to customers, he would have built a better horse drawn carriage. It’s hard in fact for non-industry ‘civilians’ to know what they want from a technology they barely understand. Furthermore, payments is boring – consumers don’t want to think about it.

You can imagine how all this goes down with consumer marketers

So it’s not altogether surprising that when Dave Birch, Consult Hyperion’s Global Amabassador,  recently spoke at a consumer intelligence forum about innovation organised by Stylus, his presentation on ‘why we shouldn’t listen to consumers’ was retitled ‘why we should listen to consumers’ by the organisers who clearly felt they’d picked up an unfortunate typo.

“What are you doing going to that?” was the general reaction in the office when we admitted that not only Dave was speaking but I’d be attending too. Indeed, surrounded by media hipsters with either interesting facial hair or interesting shoes, depending on gender, and followed by speakers on luxury retail interiors and happening female vocalists on MTV we did feel a bit out of place.

Nonetheless, it was actually rather interesting and it turns out that although they may not know that they know, consumers do in fact know what they want from payments, even when they think they are thinking about Italian furniture and yoga pants.

Here are the innovation trends highlighted at the Forum and how they map onto payments.

  • Teens are becoming more and more important. In fact the irritating little twerps are so busy founding million dollar start ups that they barely have time to wash. Marketing needs to reflect their growing significance. True – one of the biggest opportunities in cash replacement is in payment methods for teens and children.
  • Everyone (except teenagers presumably) is now into the new spirituality and simplicity, meaning stuff like yoga rooms at airports. True – for new payments methods to succeed they need to be simple. No filling in 2 page forms and going through KYC to get a prepaid card.
  • Family structures are increasingly diverse. True and that means there’s a need for a range of payments methods to suit everyone, from Granny who doesn’t like PINs to those teens again who may well enjoy having an O2 Money companion card.
  • Eat and tweet – foodies can’t help using their mobiles to tweet pictures of their gastronomic adventures. True – then they can use the self same mobiles to pay for the food – the MyCheck app for example.
  • Outrospective thinking is bringing about positive change. True – text donations are a vital method of fundraising, according to Comic Relief. Now, if only there were a way of doing Gift Aid by text.
  • Furniture is becoming more quiet, simple and pared back. OK, this one was difficult but a tweet about how we know nothing about furniture but we do know how you’ll be paying for it led us to get a furniture designer as a Twitter follower. Moving swiftly on…
  • 3D printing, hacking and open source design is changing the way goods (including furniture) is getting to consumers. Absolutely and P2P payments like PingIt are a great way of paying for them.
  • And finally ‘brand of me’ – the modern consumer is ‘always on’ and puts digital first. It stands to reason then that they will want to put digital first in payments terms too – mobile payments rather than cash.

So you see. The consumer does know what they want from payments – exactly what they want from everything else. Doesn’t that seem logical?

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