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Formulating A Market Strategy Based on the Technology Adoption Lifecycle

In my last article on diffusion theory, I introduced you to the diffusion “S” curve and the diffusion “Bell” curve, better known as the “Technology Adoption Lifecycle” model.

We talked about how the bell curve model can be used to categorize and explain the different behaviors of adopters inside the technology adoption lifecycle. In this article I  will delve deeper into the dominate characteristics of each segment and a provide a marketing strategy approach that was once thought to be sufficient – but as we shall see, it ain’t so simple after all.

The Dominate Characteristics of the  Five Adopter Categories

The five adopter categories set forth by Rogers and later extended by Geoff Moore, are ideal types. Ideal types are conceptualizations based on observations of reality that are designed to make comparisons possible. Exceptions to the ideal types can be found. If no exceptions or deviations existed, ideal types would not be necessary. With that said, the dominant characteristics and values of each adopter category can be generalized as follows:

Innovators = Technology enthusiast

  1. Desire to explore

  2. Committed to new technology

  3. sooner or later technology will improve our life’s

  4. Pleasure in mastering its intricacies

  5. But they don’t have money!

  6. But they do have influence

  7. get it into the hands of the innovators

Early adapters = Visionaries –

  1. Desire to exploit

  2. The true revolutionaries

  3. First Real money

  4. But they demand special modifications no one else would dream using

  5. Overtaxing R&D resources of fledging enterprises

Early majority = Pragmatist

  1. Evolution not revolution

  2. Bulk of all technology infrastructure purchases

  3. Adopt only after proven track record of useful productivity improvement

  4. Strong references from people they trust

  5. Prefer to buy from the market leader

Late majority = Conservatives

  1. Pessimistic about ability to gain value from new technology

  2. Undertake technology only “under-duress”

  3. remaining alternative is to let the world pass them by

  4. Price sensitive

  5. Simplify and commoditize systems to a point where they just work

Laggards = Skeptics

  1. The gadflies of high tech

80’s market strategy based on the Technology Adoption Lifecycle

So knowing that diffusion is a social network process, and armed with the characteristics of the categories of each of the five segments, one should easily be able to drive diffusion by simply following these steps:

  1. Seed product to the technology enthusiast so they can help educate the visionaries

  2. Turn visionaries by whatever it takes into satisfied customers so they can serve a good references to the pragmatists

  3. Gain the bulk of your revenue by serving the pragmatists

  4. Become the market leader

  5. Set the defacto standards

  6. Leverage pragmatist to generate sufficient volume and experience

  7. Product becomes reliable and cheap enough to meet the needs of the conservative

  8. Skip the skeptics – leave them to their own devices

Simple enough just follow the steps and presto! You have a winning new product introduction and you’re on your way to fame and fortune. If life were so simple, but the real world doesn’t quite work this way. In my next blog I will describe what Geoff Moore calls the Chasm – a discontinuation of adoption between the early adopters and the early majority.

In my next article we will discover why the technology adoption curve is not linear and come up with ideas on how to manage the chasm between the innovators and early adopters.


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