Learning the Marketing Adoption Curve
Have you ever wondered why some customers can't wait to purchase your products while others seem to take forever to make up their minds? Why some customers line up for new product releases while others appear they will never make another purchase? You're not imagining things; this is attributable to the "marketing adoption curve" (aka technology adoption curve) and is par for the course for most businesses.
What is the Marketing Adoption Curve?
In a nutshell, the marketing adoption curve is a visual representation of where the majority of your customers sit on the spectrum from "can hardly wait to buy" to "not on your life". The curve depicts the receptiveness consumers have of adopting products or services and it looks like this:
What are the Stages of Adoption?
The stages of adoption (in order of receptiveness) are innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. We've outlined below what each of these stages means for you as a business owner or marketer:
Innovators: these are the folks who sign up for new products in advance, are on the leading edge of new trends, and don't mind paying a higher price for yet-to-be-proven products just to take advantage of limited or exclusive availability.
Early Adopters: early adopters are not the first in line to purchase new products but they're not too far behind the innovators. People in this category will embrace new products when they become available as "new releases" in specialty stores or targeted channels.
Early Majority: one of the largest groups, early majority represents most consumers who are willing to buy a product once it becomes available in mainstream distribution channels. They've already heard about the product and don't need much convincing to buy it when they see it in their travels.
Late Majority: this category is the other "half" of the majority, but are slower to purchase than the early majority. These folks usually don't purchase until most people they know have already bought a product and appear to be happy with it.
Laggards: this category encapsulates the naysayers, doubters, and those who fear change. These are the folks who are never fully convinced of a product's merits (even after they've purchased it), and hang on to their money like Tom Cruise hangs on to the side of a military plane.
Taking Advantage of the Marketing Adoption Curve
So now you know what the marketing adoption curve is and the different stages within it, but how can you use this information? How can you take advantage of it? Depending on the type of product or service you sell, you can use the curve to determine where you should focus your marketing efforts and what tactic you should take.
Generally speaking, the more innovative or unique your product is, the further forward (left) your customers will fall on the curve. The more generalized your product is, the further back (right) on the curve your customers will be.
Put simply, exclusivity and specialization favors innovators whereas commonality and generalization lend themselves to late majority.
Knowing this, you can determine how much "convincing" your customers will likely need before they make a purchase (or whether they're worth trying to convince at all).
Marketing to Different Stages of the Adoption Curve
Consider innovators for a moment.... Do you think this group will require much convincing when they hear about a new exclusive product? Probably not. But if new product awareness is your objective - you just want to let customers know something new is in the works - what tactic would you take? To appeal to this audience you would likely use language around limited availability, exclusivity, leading-edge technology, or modernized design.
Now consider the late majority.... These folks are going to be harder to convince to purchase but probably still worth trying due to their sheer numbers. How would you market to these folks? You might elect to highlight the proven capabilities, number of satisfied customers, inherent value in the product, or a last chance offer.
By taking the time to determine where your customers fall on the curve, where your products or services offer the most appeal, and how to marry the two through strategic marketing campaigns, you can optimize the results you get from your advertising dollar.