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Product Adoption Process

When your brand’s hard work and creativity have finally culminated in an exciting new product, a strong marketing strategy ensures that it will be seen and offered to as many potential customers as possible.  Marketing pros study not only the climate of the current market but the mental process consumers go through from the first mention of a new product to the decision to purchase.  This system is called the product adoption process, and gaining an understanding of it is key to knowing how to give potential buyers the most tempting opportunities to give your product a chance.  We aim to help you boost sales by familiarizing you with this important process.  In this article we will list the steps in new product adoption and flesh out the stages of the adoption process with examples you can apply to your own marketing.

Among experts the steps vary very little, except some iterations include five steps and some add a sixth.  We will go over all six here for the sake of completion.  So what are the six stages of the product adoption process?  The point at which consumers are first introduced to a new product in a brief way, such as if they receive a simple product launch email or happen to catch a quick commercial on television, is the awareness phase.  If the consumer seeks to hear more about it and, for instance, searches websites for more details, this is the interest phase.  The evaluation phase occurs when they reflect on these details and consider whether the product may fit their needs, which they may do by actually going into a store to peruse the item.  The trial phase involves testing out the product for themselves, perhaps by accepting a free trial or demonstration of some kind, and the adoption phase is the decision to buy.  The post adoption phase happens when adoption of the product means not only using it but recommending it to others.

Product Adoption Curve

Effective marketing means getting to know your potential client base well enough to anticipate their needs and preferences on a large scale.  A visual representation of this information helps to solidify concepts in the mind, and this is where the product adoption curve comes in.  The product adoption curve is a demonstrative model of the stages of adoption in extension, showing which type of consumer buys your product at what stage.  Armed with this knowledge, you can plan each step of your marketing strategy to optimize your product’s appeal to shoppers.

When your product initially hits the market, it will be grabbed by the innovators, tech aficionados who love being the first to try out innovative new gadgets.  In the next phase  the product is still new and not widely known, and early adopters will pick it up, those who are willing to take a risk on a new product but want to see one or two customer recommendations first.  In the third phase your product has gained traction and advertisement has reached more of the public, and the pragmatists that embody the early majority jump on board, recognizing your product’s value after more reviews have come in.  During the next phase your product is purchased by the late majority, after it has demonstrated its worth to more users and receives enough praise to overcome the concerns of the skeptics.  By the final phase, when the laggards are buying, even the harder-shelled skeptics are tempted by positive recommendations and perhaps coupons and sales. 

As you form your marketing strategy, plan to change your marketing as your product ages to suit each type of consumer.  Consider this general market adoption example:  show the cutting-edge tech features in the beginning to get the innovators’ attention, then focus on the fact that it’s still new enough to give a competitive advantage for the early adopters, and add more satisfied customer reviews in the stages that follow.  Keep in mind that each of these phases is delineated by an arbitrary length of time, and you can observe the onset of each phase based on who you see buying.

5 Stages of Product Adoption Process

Now that you know how a product goes from entering a consumer’s consciousness to sold, let’s delve deeper and describe the adoption and diffusion process for new products.  A new product represents any piece of merchandise or service that has either just been developed or is not yet known to a potential customer base.  The survival of new products on the market is dictated by how consumers respond to them.  Looking closely at these stages and customer categories help marketers predict consumer behavior as well as how word of mouth and product use spreads, or diffuses, through a population over time.  

Here we should describe new product adoption process in more detail.  During the awareness phase of either a new product or a new style of an existing product, an introductory mention is at least enough to begin to pique the curiosity and earmark the item as something they may be interested in.  At this point consumers have only a general outline and few details.  In the interest phase their curiosity is enough to motivate them to do the work of finding out more, and they are more receptive to advertisements and emails which can give them more information.  They begin thinking of it as a possibility for solving a problem.  By the evaluation phase the potential buyer knows what it does, how it works, and how it might stack up against competitors, and begins weighing its value and benefits before purchasing.  The trial phase provides the first real personal interaction with the product, either by a test-run or a small-scale purchase of some kind, which should better inform the buyer’s opinion of its worth.  At the adoption phase the consumer is satisfied with the information gathered and decides on a full-scale purchase and regular use of the product. 

The innovators, the first purchasers, typically belong to a small group but are willing to take risks on a new development.  Early adopters are still risk-takers but tend to carry a bit more influence among their social groups, which helps with word of mouth.  For the early and late majority, building more and more on the positive experiences helps ease the fears of the larger group of people who want to purchase only after they know the product has performed well for others.

How to Drive Product Adoption

Individually and as a group, the characteristics of the buyers determine their preferences, decisions, and how they react to your marketing strategy.  Consult some of the above examples of product adoption process we described earlier and think about the types of buyers that make up each buying stage.  Consider their traits in conjunction with the various features of your amazing product and you may just uncover what is in a buyer’s black box:  the mysterious forces acting on their desires and opinions which influence what they do.  

Consumers may have an issue in their lives which has newly cropped up, or which they never knew of a solution for, or they may be currently using a product they are not completely satisfied with.  They may also hold an attachment to brands they are already familiar with and naturally resist trying something new.  These are all typical and commonly-seen behaviors of buyers which you can defuse with marketing strategies.  The fact that your product is new is also a plus, because something they haven’t explored yet may just be a better solution than what they have.  Point out flaws in existing models of the product in a practical way, and emphasize the smooth transition to incorporating your product into their lives.  

Turn the above descriptions of stages in adoption process in marketing management into a strategic general market adoption example applicable to any product launch.  Innovators want to hear about the unique features and the freshness, that they will be the first to have it.  Early adopters need a little evidence that the tech-savvy pioneers had a good experience, but that they are still among the first to give it a try and can reap the benefits of that.  To the remainder of your potential buyers, the early majority through the laggards, highlight the fact that everybody’s buying this, people are satisfied, and everybody needs one. 

Now, take a crack at decoding that black box!

Consumer Adoption Process Examples

Once applied, the principles of interpreting how consumers may react to your product will prove to you the importance of consumer adoption process by helping you get the sales you want.  The truth is, a solid marketing plan is just as important as striving for the highest quality in the product itself.  Review the points discussed here and discover how they make sense for your product.  

The various factors affecting consumer adoption process may seem complex and sometimes unknowable, but decoding what is in a buyer’s black box basically consists of logical marketing principles combined with current social trends.  Keep in mind that there are basic building blocks that connect every one of us that share the same general human experience.  The diffusion process in consumer behavior draws from the value we place on the recommendations of others in addition to the solutions we seek in our lives and our own preferences.

Let’s review and discuss the strategies in the consumer adoption process as they pertain to consumer adoption categories.  The innovators get excited about technology for technology’s sake, a genuine interest which you can appeal to by knowing all the ins and outs of technical information about your product.  With product adoption from the early adopters, your sales start to increase beyond the initial small numbers.  Pragmatists that make up the early majority need real-world proof about the value of products.  This is typically when you begin to see the peak of your sales, but try not to be discouraged because, interestingly, the latter groups which are likely to contain the skeptics make up surprisingly large numbers, and they too will respond positively with the right promotion.  To see this in motion, look at advertising campaigns for product launches and see which communications and/or discounts are offered when.

Knowing how to plan effective marketing based on your knowledge of the product adoption process can help you bring in more sales, earn buyers’ loyalty, and make your brand stand out as a market leader who gives customers what they want.

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