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Early Adopters: Could they play a larger role in the success of your new products?

They may only make up 13.5 percent of the market share, but they will likely influence around half of your new product’s sales. So, are you paying attention to them?

I’m referring to early adopters – those customers who are most likely to experiment with new services and products. Ad Age did a 20-page white paper on this influential group, and I thought I would share some of the insights. Although this report focused mainly on digital adopters, I pulled out information that I believe would help describe early adopters of any industry. You can download the entire white paper here.

About Early Adopters

A study by Forrester Research found that three key drivers compel early adopters: Risk taking, information gathering and status seeking. Due to their desire to be first, this group is willing to take chances on new products that have no history in the marketplace. This gives them the opportunity to show off their purchases, which they take pride in. The chart below shows that early adopters are information gatherers that tell other people what to buy after spending more time researching products.

Digital Adopter Behavior Table

According to Steve Rubel, senior VP-director of insights at Edelman Digital, “Early adopters are not always the people with the biggest reach, or the biggest footprint. They are the people who are respected [for their opinions on] what to buy.”

John Vasko, a social media specialist, explains what motivates him. “What motivates me as an early adopter is marketing that shows what the product can do for me very specifically. . . I’m on a quest to find more efficient ways of doing things.”

Early adopters are not necessarily attracted to new technology just because it’s new, especially the younger members of this group. Products need to be useful – do they help people do something they couldn’t do before? Does the product make anything easier that people are already doing? And early adopters tend to have higher standards for products and the companies who make them.

Marketing to Early Adopters

Google has had an immense amount of success labeling new products with the word “beta” and providing early adopters with the first opportunity to use their product and provide feedback, giving Google the ability to improve the product before launching it for the entire world. However, companies who use this strategy need to be prepared to actually put to use the feedback they receive. They also need to be able to handle flak and respond to it appropriately. With the rise of social media, early adopters have a greater opportunity to share information about the products they buy and try. On the flip side, social media also provides companies with an easier way to respond to their customers. Thank your early adopters for their feedback.

So, do you know who your early adopters are? Find those individuals who are going to be your advocates. Figure out what makes them happy and don’t be afraid to make them feel unique, like you know them. Let them have one of your new products for free that you think they will enjoy. Listen to their feedback. There is nothing these early adopters like more than to be heard by marketers.

Filed Under: advertising

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