5 Stages of Consumer Adoption Process (Buyer Decision Process for New Products)

It is interesting how consumers learn about products for the first time and decide whether to adopt them.

The adoption process for a new product is the mental process through which an individual passes from first learning about an innovation to final adoption” and adoption as the decision by an individual to become a regular user of the product. A new product is a good, service, or idea perceived by some potential customers as new.

Concept of Consumer Adoption Process

Though most buyers of a product have some common needs, they are not alike in all respects.

Purchasers in the initial stages of a product’s life are considerably different from those who make their purchases later. Some of their demographic characteristics may vary, their buying behavior may be distinct, and their purchasing motives may differ.

To describe the various types of buyers who purchase a product over the course of its life cycle, the marketing experts proposed an adoption process.

To build an effective strategy for market penetration, management must understand the consumer adoption process. Kotler defines adoption as an individual’s decision to become a regular user of a product.

There was a time when marketers would offer their products to the mass market. Under this concept, people everywhere were thought to buy a company’s product, and consequently, companies were inviting everybody to buy their products by making them available in wider areas.

It would cost companies to spend heavily on promotion and distribution, most of which were wasted.

It led to the development of a concept called ‘heavy ­user target marketing.’

Under this concept, companies would target heavy users initially with their offers. This also suffered some limitations as the heavy users vary in their tastes, preferences, adopter status, and brand loyalty levels.

From this experience, companies now prefer approaching the early adopters with their offers. To understand the consumer adoption process, you should understand, in the beginning, two other concepts – innovation and innovation diffusion process.

If you have clear ideas on these two, you will identify early adopters by utilizing your knowledge.

“Innovation refers to any good, service, or idea that is perceived by someone as new.” This suggests that even an old product can be considered by someone as an innovation, provided he perceives it as new.

The reason may be that he was not exposed to the product until now. On the contrary, the innovation diffusion process is the spread of a new idea from its source of invention or creation to its final adopters or buyers/users.

We are now in a position to define the consumer adoption process. “The consumer adoption process focuses on the mental process through which an individual passes from first hearing about an innovation to final adoption.”

This suggests that an adopter of an innovation passes through five stages. In the following section, we shall turn our attention to the stages of the adoption process.

Stages of Consumer Adoption Process

5 Stages of Consumer Adoption Process

Consumers go through 5 stages in the process of adopting a new product.

  1. Product Awareness.
  2. Product Interest.
  3. Product Evaluation.
  4. Product Trial.
  5. Product Adoption.

These stages imply that the new-product marketer should consider how to help consumers move through these stages. A manufacturer of large-screen televisions may discover that many consumers in the interest stage do not move to the trial stage because of uncertainty and the large investment.

If these same consumers would be willing to use a large-screen television on a trial basis for a small fee, the manufacturer should consider offering a trial-use plan with the option to buy.

For adopting a new product, at first, the consumer becomes aware of the new product but does not have information about it. The consumer shows interest and searches for information about the new product. In the third stage, the consumer evaluates whether trying the new product is worthwhile. After that, the consumer tries the new product on a limited scale to improve its value assessment. At the last stage, the consumer decides to make full and regular use of the new product.

Let’s understand them in details;

1. Product Awareness

The consumer becomes aware of the new product but lacks information about it. Initially, the consumer must become aware of the new product.

Awareness leads to interest, and the customer seeks information about the new product.

Whether an innovation is continuous or not, people are either little aware or aware of it initially.

Innovator, therefore, has to inform the adopters about the innovation. In the awareness stage, individuals become aware that the product exists, but they have little information about it and are not concerned about getting more.

Adopters may be informed through advertising, publicity, or any other effort of the marketer.

2. Product Interest

The consumer seeks information about the new product. Once the information has been gathered, the consumer enters the evaluation stage and considers buying the new product.

By this time, the innovation is introduced. It is now the time for the decision-makers to determine whether the innovation relates to their needs.

They enter the interest stage when they are motivated to get information about its features, uses, advantages, disadvantages, price, or location.

Interest may or may not sparked, depending on whether the decision-makers perceive the innovation as a relevant, feasible alternative to existing items.

3. Product Evaluation

Next, in the trial stage, the consumer tries the product on a small scale to improve its value estimate. The consumer considers whether trying the new product makes sense.

Adopters of the innovations have to establish some evaluation measures to compare the new product with existing ones.

During the evaluation stage, individuals consider whether the product will satisfy certain critical criteria for meeting their specific needs. The potential adopters consider the innovation’s benefits and determine whether to try it.

4. Product Trial

The consumer tries the new product on a small scale to improve their estimate of its value. If the consumer is satisfied with the product, they enter the adoption stage, deciding to use the new product thoroughly and regularly.

At this stage, the potential adopters examine, test, or try the innovative product to determine its usefulness.

In this stage, they use or experience the product for the first time, possibly by purchasing a small quantity, taking advantage of a free sample or demonstration, or borrowing the product from someone.

During this stage, potential adopters determine the product’s usefulness under the specific conditions they need.

The trial stage for innovations is complex. Successful introduction depends greatly on the new product’s characteristics, benefits, and perceived risks. Effective communication is the key to achieving trial by consumers.

5. Product Adoption

The consumer decides to make full and regular use of the new product. The new product is a good, service, or idea perceived by some potential customers as new.

Individuals move into the adoption stage when choosing that specific product when they need a product of that general type. Here the buyers purchase the new product and can be expected to use it to solve problems.

So, this final stage of the process is indicated most directly by sales, but the innovation’s visibility is also a success measure.

However, please do not assume that they will eventually adopt the new product because a person enters the adoption process. Rejection may occur after any stage, including the adoption stage.

Factors Affecting the Adoption Process

The three important factors affecting the adoption process are people’s readiness to try new products, personal influence, and innovation characteristics.

We shall now take up a brief discussion on how they influence the product adoption process:

People’s Readiness

People differ in their readiness to accept new products, services, opinions, and ideas. Some people always prefer adopting new market offers. Those who are venturesome and enjoy taking risks, younger in age, have higher social status, and have favorable financial positions will be the innovators.

Those who are guided by respect treated as opinion leaders and consider themselves as cautious adopt early. The deliberate persons are usually the early majority. Those who are skeptical and follow the majority adopt once a large number of people try the product.

Those who are tradition-bound, having insular attitudes, and are suspicious, usually accept a product when the masses use it.

To understand adopter categories and locate the innovators and early adopters, a marketer should undertake an extensive study based on potential customers’ demographic, psychographic, and media characteristics.

Personal Influence

Since we are social and human beings, we are always subject to interpersonal influence in our decisions. The degree of personal influence varies according to the buying situation and individual in question.

There are some buying situations where we are influenced more by others. Again, personality type determines the susceptibility of interpersonal influence.

The submissive type of person is more influenced by others than do the aggressive type of persons. In complex buying situation, particularly while buying expensive items, personal influence works more than in simple buying situation and in buying small items.

Characteristics of the Innovation Influence Adoption Process

The following five characteristics of an innovation influence the adoption process.

  1. Relative Advantage: If a new product is perceived as superior to existing products, it will be adopted quickly.
  2. Compatibility: If innovation is considered consistent with the individuals’ values and experiences, it will soon be adopted.
  3. Complexity: If innovation is perceived as complex by a particular group of people, they will adopt it slowly.
  4. Divisibility: If there is a scope of trying the innovation on a test or sample basis, the chances will be adopted soon.
  5. Communicability: If the innovation benefits can be described easily or observed, it will be adopted fast.

There are some other characteristics of the innovation that also influence the rate of adoption of the innovation. They are the cost, risk and uncertainty, technical standard, social acceptance, and so on.

To be successful, a marketer should study the factors as detail as possible, and his strategy should be based on the findings of the said study.

The implication of the Adoption Process

The adoption process described above has several implications for marketers.

First, promotion should be used to create widespread awareness of the new product and its benefits. Samples or simulated trials should be arranged to help buyers make initial purchase decisions.

At the same time, marketers should emphasize quality control and provide solid guarantees to reinforce buyer opinion during the evaluation stage.

Finally, production and physical distribution must be linked to patterns of adoption and repeat purchases.

How to Make Potential Consumers to Adopt the New Product

How to Make Potential Consumers to Adopt the New Product

Its characteristics influence the rate of adoption of a new product. Some products gain quick acceptance, while others may take a long time.

Five characteristics play an important role in affecting the rate of adoption of an innovation. These are:

  1. Relative Advantage – the degree to which the innovation seems to be superior to existing products.
  2. Compatibility – the degree to which the innovation conforms to the values and experiences of potential consumers.
  3. Complexity – the degree to which the innovation is difficult to recognize or use.
  4. Divisibility – the degree to which the innovation may be tried on a small scale basis.
  5. Communicability – the degree to which the results of using the innovation can be observed or communicated to others.

In addition to the above five characteristics, some other characteristics may also affect the rate of adoption. These are initial and ongoing costs, risk and uncertainty, and social approval. In designing the new product and its marketing program, the new-product marketer has to study all these factors.

Factors Affecting the Adoption Process

The three important factors affecting the adoption process are people’s readiness to try new products, personal influence, and innovation characteristics.

We shall now take up a brief discussion on how they influence the product adoption process:

People’s Readiness

People differ in their readiness to accept new products, services, opinions, and ideas. Some people always prefer adopting new market offers. Those who are venturesome and enjoy taking risks, younger in age, have higher social status, and have favorable financial positions will be the innovators.

Those who are guided by respect treated as opinion leaders and consider themselves as cautious adopt early. The deliberate persons are usually the early majority. Those who are skeptical and follow the majority adopt once a large number of people try the product.

Those who are tradition-bound, having insular attitudes, and are suspicious, usually accept a product when the masses use it.

To understand adopter categories and locate the innovators and early adopters, a marketer should undertake an extensive study based on potential customers’ demographic, psychographic, and media characteristics.

Personal Influence

Since we are social and human beings, we are always subject to interpersonal influence in our decisions. The degree of personal influence varies according to the buying situation and individual in question.

There are some buying situations where we are influenced more by others. Again, personality type determines the susceptibility of interpersonal influence.

The submissive type of person is more influenced by others than do the aggressive type of persons. In complex buying situation, particularly while buying expensive items, personal influence works more than in simple buying situation and in buying small items.

Characteristics of the Innovation

The following five characteristics of an innovation influence the adoption process.

  1. Relative Advantage: If a new product is perceived as superior to existing products, it will be adopted quickly.
  2. Compatibility: If innovation is considered consistent with the individuals’ values and experiences, it will soon be adopted.
  3. Complexity: If innovation is perceived as complex by a particular group of people, they will adopt it slowly.
  4. Divisibility: If there is a scope of trying the innovation on a test or sample basis, the chances will be adopted soon.
  5. Communicability: If the benefits of the innovation can be described easily or observed, it will be adopted fast.

There are some other characteristics of the innovation that also influence the rate of adoption of the innovation. They are the cost, risk and uncertainty, technical standard, social acceptance, and so on.

To be successful, a marketer should study the factors as detail as possible, and his strategy should be based on the findings of the said study.

Final Words: For Adopting a new Product, the Customer goes through 5 Stages of the Buyer Decision Process for New Products

Understanding about 5 stages of the consumer adoption process and the 5 types of adopters is also important for a new product marketer. People differ greatly in their readiness to try new products. People can be classified into 5 adopter categories.

The adoption process for a new product is the mental process through which an individual passes from first learning about an innovation to final adoption. The five stages of the consumer adoption process are awareness, interest, evaluation, trial, and adoption.

But for products and categories that already exist in the market, the 5 stages of the buyer decision process are different.

Not all consumers buy a new product at the same time. Some buy it immediately after the product is launched. Some adopt it immediately after the innovators. Others take a longer time to adopt a new product.

Yet there is another category of customers who buy the product when it reaches the mature stage. Consumer undergoes a process of adopting a new product considering many aspects and evaluating theses aspects.

Innovation has got its characteristics, which influence the success or failure of a company’s offer. Characteristics of the people who adopt new products also have a strong impact on the company.

The decision to adopt an innovation may be made by an individual, a household, or those responsible for an organization’s purchases.

Individual consumers decide whether to purchase a new kind of watch; household members usually discuss before buying a television. Managers decide which kind of office automation system a firm should adopt. In every case, adoption is in the decision-makers’ hands, not the marketers’ hands.

Moreover, consumers and organizational buyers pass through various mental and behavioral stages before deciding to adopt an innovation. Consumers move from no awareness to awareness, to interest, to evaluation, to trial, and finally to adoption.

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