The global pandemic certainly highlighted the necessity of thorough, sophisticated research. In a year’s time, numerous scientific powerhouses produced a safe, effective vaccine that is expected to ultimately put an end to all COVID-19 related restrictions. Yet, the medical industry is not the only field that proved just how essential good research is to finding quality solutions.
The payments industry experienced accelerated digitization, and the need for contactless options. On-demand customer experience had to happen fast. Companies that had spent years tracking payments-specific trends and recording crucial data were finally able to flex their skills.
To further discuss the nuances of the primary research team’s role and delve into their essential data collection expertise, PaymentsJournal sat down with Mercator Advisory Group’s Sam Klebanov, Research Analyst, and Nick Bisconti, Director of Primary Research Services.
What is Mercator Advisory Group’s primary research team?
Mercator Advisory Group has been a trusted advisor to the global payments industry since 2003. According to Bisconti, “the primary research team works on designing and fielding a number of annual subscription survey programs.” This includes a variety of relevant topics, ranging from Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) lending to the hottest, most up-to-date trends in mobile input and cellular payments.
The team works tirelessly to design and field multiple annual subscription programs, constantly adjusting the content to match the recent and applicable trends occurring in the industry. While these adjustments allow the primary research team to cover relevant topics, they do have a consistent set of questions so that year-over-year analysis is possible. This data extends all the way back to 2009.
Surveying the payments landscape
The primary research team has a handful of surveys that are conducted on a regular basis. One of these, the North American PaymentsInsights Survey, is carried out twice a year and surveys a group of 3,000 U.S. based consumers.
The second version of the same survey focuses on a panel of 1,000 Canada-based customers. Participants in both surveys are 18 years of age or older. The reports created by this skilled team are based on these surveys and explore various topics including consumer usage and attitudes, mobile payments, and a number of special topics, such as “consumer usage, and consumer attitudes across [Mercator’s] core credit, debit and prepaid practices, as well as some special topics and mobile payments, recurring payments, ATMs and payments security.,” said Klebanov.
Another survey that is conducted regularly is the Buyer PaymentsInsights Survey. This annual survey of 3,000 U.S. based adult consumers focuses on online and in-store shopping preferences and behaviors. The additional topics explored include preferred payment methods and the pandemic impact on consumer behavior and shopping preferences, including home delivery and curbside pickup. With this survey, team members explore any shopping trends as they relate to the payments industry.
The third annual survey is the Small Business PaymentsInsight Survey. A group of 2,000 U.S. small businesses whose revenues are under $10 million a year participate in this survey. Topics range from the general business outlook of the team to merchant relationships with processors and acquiring banks. The participants’ attitudes toward debit cards, business credit, and other B2B payments are also analyzed.
Aside from the regularly conducted surveys, the primary research team is involved in a series of custom projects, which also include surveys and focus groups. These projects are for clients with exclusive research needs that they are looking to have met. Market sizing, competitor assessment, and product testing are a few examples of these proprietary projects.
“We work with each one of our clients individually to develop a unique survey plan that matches their specific business needs,” further explained Klebanov, “whether that’s feedback from consumer, or any specific knowledge on their business and payment stakeholder populations.”
Client satisfaction, guaranteed
Being a subscriber to the primary research programs certainly has its perks. Subscribers receive access to an array of summary and analysis reports that are based on the surveys. “These reports are a way of gauging some of the more elusive market dynamics and metrics related to consumer behavior, attitudes and motivations,” explained Bisconti.
The results of the surveys are incorporated into detailed reports made up of data summaries of statistics involving year-over-year trends and incidence rates of responses. They also include analysis, actionable insights and recommendations that build on the team members’ general expertise in the payments space.
Customers have the added bonus of the custom inquiry process. “Using our most recent data, and in some cases a long time series of trending data, we develop custom tabulations to address specific subscriber initiatives,” continued Bisconti. “For example, an e-commerce client may reach out to us asking about trends among shoppers in the 55+ age cohort with regard to usage and attitudes towards mobile app payments. This information may help them decide whether they want to invest in building out new acceptance capacity to accept a new payment method.”
This type of custom query can accommodate any subscriber’s usage segment definitions or individual demographics.
Looking toward the future
PaymentsJournal asked: What does the future hold for the innovative primary research team? The future looks bright.
Moving forward, the team plans to continue focusing much of their efforts on increased sophistication of analyses and leveraging year-over-year trend data by developing forecasting models, which are expected to provide insight into forthcoming trends and changes in the payments industry.
The researchers work hard to include the most essential new topics whenever they update their annual surveys. Together with their industry-leading subscribers and Mercator’s expert analyst team, they will continue to identify all issues of tactical significance to payments stakeholders and develop new content for questionnaires and report analyses to provide deeper insight into those industry imperative topics.