When the new iPad came out, where were you? Were you waiting in line outside for two days or were you sleeping comfortably in your bed completely unaware of it? When the new Air Jordans came out, were you packing snacks for your overnight wait or were you eating pizza in front of your television? Knowing the answer to these questions reveals what kind of an adopter you are when it comes to new innovations.
Marketers have broken consumers down into different groups and created this snazzy curve called the Innovation Adoption Curve, which is also referred to as the Multi-Step Flow Theory or Diffusion of Innovations Theory. Imagine whipping out this information at your next company event; you’ll be thought of as a marketing know-it-all!
Adopter Category #1: Innovators — If you rapidly latch on to products when they’re first introduced, then you’re probably an Innovator. Innovators are eager to try new ideas and products, almost as an obsession. They typically have higher incomes and they are worldlier and more active outside their community. Innovators also rely less on group norms and are more self-confident; they get their information more from scientific sources and experts. This is the group that you always see waiting in line for the new Apple products, regardless of the weather or temperature.
Adopter Category #2: Early Adopters — The second group adopts new products early in the product life cycle. Early Adopters rely more on group norms and values, as opposed to Innovators who rely on their own values. They are active inside their community and they want the respect of others. This group is the one to market towards since they are the opinion leaders and encourage their group of family and friends to buy a new product.
Adopter Category #3: Early Majority – Early Majority consumers collect more information about the product and will weigh the pros and cons before they make a decision. They listen to their opinion leaders and will rely on their groups’ opinions instead of forming them for themselves. They’re an important group nonetheless and should not be ignored! Early Majority group members are positioned between the earlier and later adopters and are deliberate in their data collection process.
Adopter Category #4: Late Majority — Alright, now we’re to the skeptics. Late Majority consumers adopt a new product mainly because their friends have all adopted them and they feel the need to conform. This group is typically older and has below average income and social status. They listen to word-of-mouth communication over mass media, since they trust their friends more.
Adopter Category #5: Laggards — Laggards do not rely on group norms and values, just like Innovators. Their past heavily influences their current decision process. By the time Laggards adopt an innovation it has been possibly outmoded and replaced by something new and flashy. They are extremely suspicious and feel alienated from a rapidly changing society. This group probably bought their first black-and-white TV after color television was already dominantly used. Marketers and advertisers tend to ignore Laggards since they are not motivated by advertising or personal selling and will only purchase a new product when they absolutely have to.
Of course there will be variations in the Innovation Adoption Curve from time to time, but it’s pretty accurate in analyzing consumers according to the ways they react to new innovations. When you know how your consumers learn about and adopt new products, you’re much more likely to successfully market products towards them. Some products aren’t adopted by 100 percent of the population, so these categories specifically refer to all of those who will eventually adopt a product.
Are there certain products that you were an Innovator on and another you adopted because all your friends had?