Understand Your Customers and the Stages of Adoption

by Thom Tracy

2 min read

Even before exciting innovative products hit the shelves, customers begin the assessment process that leads to product adoption. Consumers develop awareness of a product and measure it against their personal likes and dislikes before they buy it and make it part of their lives. Throughout the product life cycle, there are five different categories of consumers that adopt the product at different rates.

Innovators

Consumers known as innovators are young, financially solid and fearless regarding the risks of purchasing interesting new products. They make up just 2.5 percent of the consumer population. Innovators like to ride the leading edge of new ideas, and they are willing to pay a premium price to do so.

Businesses that promote recognizable branding and strategic marketing can turn the release of a new product into an anticipated event. They can count on innovators to be first in line. With the introduction of each new iPhone version, Apple sets up a countdown to launch that causes consumers to mark their calendars and book time off work to be one of the first to claim a new phone.

Early Adopters

Early adopters get on board after the innovators, and they blaze the trail for the masses. They are known for their social presence, and their opinions carry weight with others. Early adopters can have a significant impact on the success of a product because they influence the purchasing attitudes of the majority. This young, well-educated group accounts for about 13.5 percent of consumers.

Because they open the floodgates for the masses, early adopters are natural targets for marketing campaigns. Identifying early adopters and getting the product into their hands is an effective strategy for creating buzz and winning over the majority of consumers.

Early Majority

The first big wave of product adoption comes from consumers in the early-majority category. Representing 34 percent of the buying public, these shoppers take a cautious approach to new products. They value cost-efficient, useful products. Early-majority consumers are likely to use online resources to compare product costs and features before making choices.

Quality control is important when it comes to capturing the early-majority buyers. A good product with consistently positive reviews appeals to the practical sensibilities of this consumer group.

Late Majority

Late-majority consumers are a skeptical bunch. They are happy to wait while others test new products and iron out any bugs. Making up 34 percent of the consumer pool, this group follows the lead of common opinion.

Consistent performance and price cuts are the keys to getting these consumers on board. Businesses that balance increased sales with reduced prices attract the late-majority shoppers.

Laggards

The laggard group is the slowest to adopt new products. Rounding out the consumer population at 16 percent, laggards are older and have a more traditional perspective. They don’t accept change readily, and they have limited social contacts and financial resources.

If left to their own devices, laggards might never adopt new products. They are most likely to accept innovations if they are guided by a family member or directed to comply with government regulations

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