Early adopters are defined as the first consumers who use or buy a product…. those who absolutely must have the latest product, technology, look and lifestyle. They take their self-appointed roles in society very seriously, and express their opinions about brands and products through blogs and social media. They are opinion leaders in a society.
Approval from early adopters can help a product or service gain traction and find success in the mainstream. This group can be identified by their social status, better education, and higher income.
Companies heavily focused on new innovation should take early adopters very seriously. With 70% of adults using social media sites, blogs or videos, the influence of early adopters is growing. Technology brands, for example, use this group in critical roles including test user and feedback loop.
Early adopters get information and have influence, but only about technologies they find useful and not just any shiny new thing. Many assume that digital adopters are younger, but technophiles can be found in all age groups. Early adopters of today’s technology are also less ”geeky” and more mainstream.
Early Adopters use technology for convenience. They are more likely to purchase new technology products than their friends and family, and they typically use the internet to learn about new products. They own an average of four cross-platform devices. TV shows are consumed on a time-shift basis on-line, web video is popular, and they are 14 times more likely to send web video to their TV. This group is six times more likely to have a phone that plays videos and are 10 times more likely to have video capabilities on their phone.
What defines an Early Adopter?
Risk takers – the desire for novelty, to be first with the newest versus the safety of choosing products based on market history.
Information Gatherers – Early adopters are more likely to do the actual research required to make an adoption decision. They mitigate risk through information gathering. They are respected for their opinions.
Status Seekers – They strive to feel unique by always knowing what’s best. Products are chosen as vehicles of self expression and reflections of status.
Who are early adopters?
Survey results vary about the number of households that are early adopters with percentages ranging from 13% to 29% percent of the population. Income is certainly above the national average ($50,303, 2008), median income is $51,588 and as high as $84,506.
Extreme Techies tend to be 31-year old males (63%) with an average income of $67,000. About half (47%) are married; 57% have children under 18 at home. They comprise about 8% of the adult broadband population (or 4.6 million consumers) and get their information on-line. They access 91 minutes of weekly web video and participate in on-line user groups like A/V and science fiction forums.
(What I have to share in regards to gender and ethnicity may surprise you)
Women are another significant segment of the early adopter population. They choose products to improve their lives. Favorite technologies include home networks (57%) and WiFi (24%), which help women do more in less time.
Research findings on Hispanic early adopters reveal that two-thirds have been on-line for five years or more. They have higher cell phone use (90% of Hispanics vs. 79% of general population) and like text messaging (used by 66% vs. 38% of population).
African-American consumers show greater support for mobile web vs. broadband; 48% have used mobile devices to access the web (national average 32%); 29% use the internet daily (19% average).
A Bridge Ratings on Baby Boomers found that only 2% of those born before 1955 were early adopters, while 15% of younger boomers received the designation.
Teens are early adopters of technology and account for 20% of the mobile video market. In the US, 77% of teens have their own cell phone and 11% regularly borrow one.
If this information is not under your radar, put it there. Think about this next time your company wants to be first in the market with an innovative product. Are you still thinking about your traditional general market? Are you considering the shifts in demographics and diversification of your target customers?
What does this mean to you and your brand?
If your company wants to be first to the market with an innovative product, or if you are among Technology companies, you should consider addressing Early Adopters as follows:
Early adopters value focused communication – don’t just include them on a press release. Take the time to figure out what makes them happy. Be honest and direct.
For non-free products, pricing can be a major factor…. e.g., if you want early adapters to review your test products, they may not be willing to spend too much money for you to learn, especially for high ticket items.
Timing can be a consideration as well – have a plan to monitor early adaptor’s feed back and quickly address issues….even if that response is just thank you, it shows that you’re listening. Be responsive. Failure to respond will grow the unhappy voices louder.
Give them information and appeal to their need for status.
Most importantly, don’t stereotype the early adopters. This group is as diverse as the rest of the New World. Treat different customers differently. Address the over-arching common need, but recognize that people in this group (as well as others) have different needs.