Different people try new products at varying speeds. For each product, we find consumption pioneers and early adopters. Other consumers adopt new products much later.
People can be classified into 5 adopter categories. Consumers pass through five stages in the process of adopting a new product.
- Early Adopters.
- Early Majority.
- Late Majority.
Let’s look at the diagram to understand how adopters adopt a new product over time.
After a slow start, an increasing number of people adopt the new product. The number of adopters reaches a peak and then drops off as fewer nonadopters remain.
Innovators are defined as the first 2½ of the buyers to adopt a new idea (those beyond two standard deviations from mean adoption time); the early adopters are the next 13½ percent (between one and two standard deviations); and so forth.
The five adopter groups describe above differ in values.
Innovators take venture who try new ideas at some risk. Early adopters are influenced by respect from opinion leaders in their communities and adopt new ideas early but carefully. The early majority act deliberately.
They rarely are leaders who adopt new ideas before the average person. The late majority have skeptic altitude who adopt an innovation only after most people have tried it.
Laggards are people who are tradition-bound. They look at changes with suspicion and adopt the innovation only when it has become a tradition itself.
This adopter classification has important implications for an innovating firm. The firm should study innovators and early adopters’ characteristics and should focus on marketing efforts to them.
Most innovators are relatively younger, better educated, and higher in income than later adopters and nonadopters.
They are more receptive to unknown things, depend more on their own values and judgment, and are more eager to take risks. Their brand loyalty is low, and they are more prone to special promotions such as discounts, coupons, and samples.
Let’s briefly learn about the 5 types of adopters;
Innovators are venturesome – They are willing to try new products at some risk.
The first users of the new product are called innovators. They tend to be younger people with relatively high incomes, who are willing to spend more than normal sums of money for the product, and take pride in being the first among their peers to own a particular new product.
Consequently, they are the opinion leaders within their reference group. They derive much of their social status and social satisfaction from the innovator role.
As a result, they actively seek out new products that will help them in that pursuit.
2. Early Adopters
Early adopters are guided by respect. They are opinion leaders in their communities and adopt new products early but carefully.
Early adopters make up 13.5% of the total purchasers. Although they do not move as quickly as innovators, they try a new product early in its life cycle without waiting for many people to accept it.
As innovators, they are reasonably affluent and want to be among the first to purchase a new product. Along with the innovators, they are opinion leaders for their friends and colleges to purchase and use the product type.
One of the significant differences between innovators and early adopters is that they are not as anxious to be the first purchaser. They are rather content to be second and do not actively seek new products to the extent innovators do.
3. Early Majority
The early majority are deliberated. Although they are rarely leaders, they adopt a new product before the average person.
They account for the next 34% to enter the market. They are distinctly different from the previous two groups of buyers – innovators and early adopters.
This group is more deliberate in its purchase decisions, looking to the innovators and early adopters for buying cues, and is more price sensitive. The early majority adopt the product only after it has been accepted somewhat widely.
These consumers perceive more risk in new products than do innovators and early adopters. Because this group is so large, it decides whether the product will succeed in general use or serve a narrow market niche.
Without at least part of this early majority, the product will probably not achieve sufficient sales volume to be especially profitable.
4. Late Majority
Late majority are skeptical. They adopt an innovation only after a majority of people have tried it.
This group comprises another 34% of the total market. This group sees even more risk in new products than do those in the early majority.
Customers in this category tend to be quite conservative and skeptical of new products, although the product can hardly be considered new by this time in the life cycle.
Moreover, they tend to be very price-sensitive and are generally unwilling to buy until they are convinced that the price is at its lowest point.
Members of the late majority do not view the product in terms of its life cycle, of course. Still, they become comfortable about adopting it only after the innovation is widely accepted.
Laggards are tradition-bound. They are suspicious only when it has become something of a tradition itself.
The last group of buyers makes up the last 16% to make their purchases. They are the individuals, households, or organizations that resist or never adopt the new product. The most distinguishing characteristic of this group is their highly traditional buying patterns.
They are likely to wait until they are sure a product has become accepted. This group consists of older people who have lower-incomes, yet buying power is not the main reason why laggards are so cautious – they are tied to the past.
Although laggards may be timid by nature, that is not necessarily the reason they reject an innovation. Some products are of little interest to certain customers, are not needed, or are too expensive.
You should remember that categories of adopters differ from product to product. The innovator who rushed to purchase a particular product might have little interest in another new product type. Even people generally receptive to new products are not always among the early adopters.
People differ significantly in their readiness to try new products. Depending on their attitude, belief, income, lifestyle, they might fall into innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, laggards.
Innovators and early adopters will start early the adoption process of a new product. In contrast, the early majority, late majority, laggards categories will take time to in the buyer decision process.