The Innovation Adoption Lifecycle takes a look at when, exactly, different segments of consumers purchase or adopt new technology products. This idea is often represented as a bell curve that shows a ‘chasm’ between Early Adopters of technology products and the Early Majority of adopters.
Let’s start with the 30% or so of people who jump on a brand-new, full priced, first-edition technology-based product. These are typically educated young people who are usually excited by new technologies. This group tends to show leadership in their communities and are slightly less financially well off than the Early Majority. Importantly, they will buy products at full retail price as they are not scared of the ‘new’. They welcome technological change that disrupts the status quo.
The Early Majority are a slightly more conservative bunch and usually wait to see what tech trends pan out before buying any products. They are often involved in their local communities and their major influencing power seems to be with their neighbours, which leads one to wonder how many Early Majority people share the last name ‘Jones’. They want to know that what they buy will be useful and will be technology that will last. Remember the VHS versus BETA debacle? They do.
The big challenge marketers have been trying to overcome for decades is how to get the Early Majority to bridge that chasm of inaction and literally get the Early Majority to buy into new technology without fear or regret. Investing in a too-new technology at a steep buy-in cost might indeed be a strong reason that holds the Early Majority back from jumping on the innovation train. Especially when they know that an even better, faster, cheaper and more savvy version will be on the horizon in six months or less.
Attempting to find solutions to this dilemma have ranged from creating new markets to offering two levels of technology at varying price points during the introduction-to-market phase. Long lasting impactful solutions have yet to be found. Ultimately, any solution must come from a solid understanding of where things currently stand, or, as the chasm would have it – stand apart.