Innovation diffusion and new product adoption

In new product marketing, one has to understand the process of innovation diffusion and new product adoption: how an innovation/new product idea spreads and gets adopted by the different segments of a society/market over time. New product diffusion/innovation diffusion is actually defined as the spreading of a new idea from its source of invention to the ultimate users. As the innovation spreads, adoption of the product by the consumers picks up.

All consumers in a given market are not responding to a new product in the same manner. The speed and enthusiasm with which different consumers respond to a new product are seen to vary widely. Some are quick in trying out the product and even in adopting it as a regular item of consumption. Some others take more time to embrace the product. Some others hesitate for a longer time and yet others are willing to try it at all. The differing speed in adoption by consumers is one of the most crucial issues in new product marketing.

Innovators: Innovators are consumption pioneers who are ready to try out an innovation. And for any product, there will be some pioneers. The job of the marketer is to locate and identify this group and target the new product at them initially. Since volume-wise, these groups will not be big, the marketer has to simultaneously cover the next group in the adopter category — the early adopters, who are willing to try out the new product fairly early.

Early adopters: The early adopters are the opinion leaders in their respective community and usually constitute a sizeable segment. For the success of any new product launch, it is essential that group, viz., the venturesome nature of its members plus its size, make it the ideal market segment to target. The task involved is to locate, identify and reach the segment through appropriate marketing programs.

Early majority: The next group in the adopter category to try out the new product will be the early majority. Though this group is not that venturesome like innovators or that fast in adoption like the early adopters, they are positive in their approach to new things and try them out earlier than an average person of their community.

Late majority: Now comes the late majority in the adopter category who by and large skeptical in their approach to new things and generally try them only after a lot of people around them have adopted it.

Laggards: The last category is the laggards who are tradition-bound and will generally take to a new product only after it becomes a known ad accepted product throughout the market.

It is to be pointed out that an individual, who is an innovator for a particular product, need not behave in the same way in all new-product situations. This is true of all categories. And that is why the marketer’s job is difficult. He has to decide every time that for this particular product’ who could be the innovators or the early adopters?

A new product marketer must understand thoroughly the diffusion process and the diffusion rate, and get a correct indication of the size of early adopters of the product, who will give him the initial sales. In fact, in launching a new product, most attention is given for attracting the innovators and early adopters. As the product moves along its lifecycle, the strategies are refined to suit the remaining groups.