Technology adoption cycle
Innovators pursue new technology products aggressively. They sometimes seek them out even before a formal marketing program has been launched. This is because technology is a central interest in their life, regardless of what function it is performing. At root they are intrigued with any fundamental advance and often make a technology purchase simply for the pleasure of exploring the new device’s properties. There are not very many innovators in any given market segment, but winning them over at the outset of a marketing campaign is important nonetheless, because their endorsement reassures the other players in the marketplace that the product could in fact work. Early adopters, like innovators, buy into new product concepts very early in their life cycle, but unlike innovators, they are not technologists. Rather they are people who find it easy to imagine, understand, and appreciate the benefits of a new technology, and to relate these potential benefits to their other concerns. Whenever they ?nd a strong match, early adopters are willing to base their buying decisions upon it. Because early adopters do not rely on well—established references in making these buying decisions, preferring instead to rely on their own intuition and vision, they are core to opening up any high—tech market segment. The early majority share some of the early adopter’s ability to relate to technology, but ultimately they are driven by a strong sense of practicality. They know that many of these newfangled inventions end up as passing fads, so they are content to wait and see how other people are making out before they buy in themselves. They want to see well—established references before investing substantially. Because there are so many people in this segment—roughly one—third of the whole adoption life cycle —winning their business is fundamental to any substantial profits and growth. The late majority shares all the concerns of the early majority, plus one major additional one: Whereas people in the early majority are comfortable with their ability to handle a technology product, should they finally decide to purchase it, members of the late majority are not. As a result, they wait until something has become an established standard, and even then they want to see lots of support and tend to buy, therefore, from large, well—established companies. Like the early majority, this group comprises about one—third of the total buying population in any given segment. Courting its favor is highly pro?table indeed, for while pro?t margins decrease as the products mature, so do the selling costs, and virtually all the R&D costs have been amortized. Finally there are the laggards. These people simply don’t want anything to do with new technology, for any of a variety of reasons, some personal and some economic. The only time they ever buy a technological product is when it is buried deep inside another product—the way, say, that a microprocessor is designed into the braking system of a new car—such that they don’t even know it is there. From a market development perspective laggards are generally regarded as not worth pursuing on any other basis.