As Amy mentioned a while back, “innovators” and “early adopters” are the first to purchase items when they’re released. What she didn’t mention is that this group of consumers typically gets screwed six ways till Sunday. They’ll stand in line at Apple stores for days for a new iPad. They’ll buy the newest 3D TV the day it’s released. They’ll pre-order Madden NFL (insert iteration number here) months in advance. And what do they get for their dedication? They get the same product that just a few months later everyone else in the world will get for much cheaper. They get the buggy versions that are a few updates away from reaching their potential. Or worse yet, they’re greeted with waiting lists and short supplies and end up leaving empty-handed.
You would think that companies would want to make these consumers happy. Most products are determined as successes or failures almost instantly. Pre-orders tell companies how many items need to be shipped, and if first month sales for big items aren’t up to par they run the risk of being left in the dust by the next big item. So it would be wise to make those innovators want to stay innovators and not “wait and see-ers.”
All hope isn’t lost, though. Always on the forward-thinking side, Amazon recently identified this issue as an opportunity and seized it (I swear they’ll take over the world someday). The retail giant started offering $20 off future game purchases with pre-orders for many video games, which is something most brick-and-mortar stores just can’t match. But then came one of the best moves I’ve ever seen from an online retailer: for just $0.99 the buyer gets release-day DELIVERY. Factor in the lack of sales tax, and even without the $20 credit there’s almost no reason to buy anywhere else. No lines or fruitless searches at multiple stores — just pure awesomeness in your mailbox on release day.
I’m also proud to report that one long-beloved video game company finally did right by early adopters as well. When sales of Nintendo’s new 3DS were way below the expected numbers, they slashed the price by $80 just a few months after its release. Did they say “oh well” to everyone that paid the higher price? No. They offered them TWENTY free games (through their download service) instead. Now that’s how you thank customers for supporting you!
It seems like more and more companies are slowly catching on that it’s best to be proactive and maximize those early sales instead of only offering deals as a last resort. That’s refreshing news.
So, what can be done when it comes to keeping innovators and early adopters happy? To make a long story short, DO understand that early purchasers will most likely determine your success, DO give them substantial incentives to buy early, and DO NOT make them regret being your biggest supporters. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Maybe you should try it out sometime.
What do you think? How else can retailers give innovators and early adopters the benefit of the doubt?