Consumer Adoption Process

Adoption is an individual’s decision to become a regular user of a product. How do potential customers learn about new products, try them, and adopt or reject them? The consumer adoption process is later followed by the consumer loyalty process, which is the concern of the established producer. Years ago, new product marketers used a mass market approach to launch products. This approach had two main drawbacks: It called for heavy marketing expenditures, and it involved many wasted exposures. These drawbacks led to a second approach, heavy user target marketing. This approach makes sense, provided that heavy users are identifiable and are early adopters. However, even within the heavy user group, many heavy users are loyal to existing brands. New product marketers now aim at consumers who are early adopters.

The theory of innovation diffusion and consumer adoption helps marketers identify early adopters.

An innovation is any good, service, or idea that is perceived by someone as new. The idea may have a long History, but it is an innovation to the person who sees it as new. Innovations take time to spread through the social system. The Innovation diffusion process is defined as “the spread of a new idea from its source of invention or creation to its ultimate users or adopters. The consumer adoption process is the mental process through which an individual passes from first hearing about an innovation to final adoption.

Adopters of new products have been observed to move through five stages:

1. Awareness – The consumer becomes aware of the innovation but lacks information about it.
2. Interest – The consumer is stimulated to seek information about the innovation.
3. Evaluation – The consumer considers whether to try the innovation
4. Trial – The consumer tries the innovation to improve his or her estimate of its value.
5. Adoption – The consumer decides to make full and regular use of the innovation.

The new product marketer should facilitate movement through these stages. A portable electric dish washer manufacturer might that many consumers are stuck in the interest stage; they do not buy because of their uncertainty and the large investment cost. But these same consumers would be willing to use an electric dishwasher on a trial basis for a small monthly fee. The manufacturer should consider offering a trial use plan with option to buy.

Marketers recognize the following characteristics of the adoption process: differences in individual readiness to try new products; the effect of personal influence; differing rates of adoption; and differences in organizations’ readiness to try new products.

A person’s level of innovativeness is the degree to which an individual is relatively earlier in adopting new ideas than the other members of his social system. In each product area, there are pioneers and early adopters. Some people are the first to adopt new clothing fashions or new appliances; some doctors are the first to prescribe new medicines; and some farmers are the first to adopt new farming methods. People can be classified into the adopter categories. After a slow start and increasing number of people adopt the innovation, the number reaches a peak, and then it diminishes as fewer non-adopters remain. The five adopter groups differ in their value orientations and their motives for adopting or resisting the new product.

Innovators are technology enthusiasts; they are venturesome and enjoy tinkering with new product and mastering their intricacies. In return for low process, they are happy to conduct alpha and beta testing and report on early weakness.

Early adopters are opinion leaders who carefully search for new technologies that might give them a dramatic competitive advantage. They are lesser price sensitive and willing to adopt the product if given personalized solutions and good service support.

Early majority are deliberate pragmatists who adopt the new technology when its benefits are proven and a lot of adoption has already taken place. They make up the mainstream market.

Late majority are skeptical conservatives who are risk adverse, technology shy, and price sensitive. Laggards are tradition bound and resist the innovation until they find that the status quo is no longer defensible.