When you are launching a new product to a market, not all people will buy it immediately. Some would try anything new and buy it for the novelty, some would wait for the review of early adopters and others might join only after the world around have bought the product. Marketing people must understand these different categories of customers and tune their product messaging appropriately.
- Innovators – These are the guys who jump immediately on a new idea once you excite them up. They are highly curious and creative. They are usually on the higher level of social class, have a lot of guts to stomach risks and could become the angel investors, team members of the product or external vendors who might use your software API. Quality and potential of the idea and team executing it are the most important things to this group.
- Early Adopters – These are the geeks and enthusiasts who want to be at the cutting edge and brag about their new toys. They tend to be young and would stand in the queue for an entire night for the first glimpse of a new iPhone or a Nike Jordan. They are risk takers and are less sensitive to price. However, they also tend to be very opinionated and would not mind waxing eloquently or trashing a product based on their first impressions. A lot of bloggers would come under the category. Although their population is small, they have a disproportionately high influence over the product adoption due to their opinion leadership in the industry. These customers liked to pampered with limited edition products, detailed product information, inside stories and early tours of the product. Once you win them, it is easy to crack the next category.
- Early Majority – These are the guys who stay in touch with the early adopters and value their opinions. For instance, they could be active readers of blogs such as TechCrunch or Engadget. They wait for the opinions of early adopters and then move quickly. They have a slightly above-average risk capacity and social class, but a little more price sensitive than early adopters. These are the guys who bought an iPhone in the first year after it was launched. The marketing messaging should focus on reviews from prominent early adopters, how fashionable/hip the product it, detailed description of features and taking home the message on how they can use it in their everyday life.
- Late Majority – These guys have slightly below-average earning and risk capacity. They are skeptical of innovation and would not adopt an innovation unless they are forced to. They are very sensitive to price. The marketing messaging should center on network effects (everyone around them uses the iPhone), cost advantage and how hassle-free the product is. Also, the messaging should tone down on how hip/fashionable the product is and tone up the utility factor. Winning this category is hard, as they are less networked and are more conservative. These guys would wait for 5 years before they even sign-up on Facebook.
- Laggards – They are the last to adopt an innovation and by the time they adopt an idea, the top 3 categories might have moved on. They are the hardest to win. They tend to be less educated, highly conservative, old or poor. The entry of this group usually signals that the product group is set to enter a declining phase as there is no more room for growth. They tend to give a higher value for the opinions of their immediate circle of friends and family than advertising, and marketers must use referrals more often to win them.
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