The Technology Adoption Curve Explained (everything you need to know)

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    Home / Growth / The Technology Adoption Curve Explained (everything you need to know)

    In today's constantly evolving world, the implementation of new technologies is an essential part of the average growth process of any business.

    However, no matter how much of an excellent job you do with your implementation process, sadly, it won't mean much if your target audience fails to adapt to these changes. After all, it's always about the people you're trying to serve. 

    So, in today's article, I'll be unpacking the notion of technology adoption, how it works, its importance, and where it should stand during your decision-making. 

    It's going to be a hell of a ride so let's get to it and start from the very beginning- as you can tell by now, I don't like no sloppy work- where I define the Technology Adoption Curve.

    What is the Technology Adoption Curve?

    what is the technology adoption curve

    The technology adoption curve is a term used to define a sociological framework that demonstrates how different people ranging in demographics and psychological characteristics adopt and react to new technologies and innovative products. In other words, it shows how various groups of people adopt the technology.

    Let's try to elaborate on that a little.

    I'm sure you'll agree with me when I say that change brings obstacles. Introducing innovative technology is vital and typical for businesses to survive in the current market, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the process is easy.

    However, many enterprises make it a lot more difficult when they ignore that every group of adopters consists of many different user personas differing in terms of needs and expectations, which is only natural and a part of being human.

    And it's also what shapes your responsibilities here:  if you want the new technology implementation process to be impactful, it's vitally essential for you to understand these different groups of people since this approach will help you build a solid business strategy that will encourage your users to adapt and react to the innovation as quickly as possible.

    After this definition, I now feel like you're on the same page with me. If you are, let me assure you that you and I are not the only people who appreciate this knowledge. Let's dig a little deeper and look at the history of the technology adoption curve, how it came to be, & how it's been used over the years.


    Geoffrey Moore, a theorist and a management consultant from the USA, came up with something what he called the adoption life foundations, and Everett M. Rogers, an American sociologist, updated the theory after 40 years when he developed the idea of diffusion and innovations (will be discussed in more detail below) This theory argues that there are 5 different recipients with dissimilar needs and wants regarding each service when being introduced to new technologies.

    These 5 recipients are Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards.

    According to Rogers' theory, the technology adoption curve is all about these 5 recipients and how they react to a new product. Here's the standard bell shape curve that displays the 5 recipients and where they stand during the process. 

    the 5 recipients

    When you dig a little deeper into the theory's history, you'll see that it's an extension of an earlier model formerly named the diffusion process, initially published in 1957 by Joe M. Bohlen, George M. Beal, and Everett Rogers. The work primarily focused on the notion's impact on agriculture and home economics -quite different from what it's been currently used for.

    The book was published with the purpose of tracking the purchase patterns of hybrid seed corn by farmers.

    Later on, Rogers himself generalized the areas and fields in which the theory was being used in his wildly praised book Diffusion of Innovations published in 1962. The new model did an excellent job describing how new technologies and innovations spread in various cultures in different countries and how millions of people react to them. 

    What are the 5 Segments of Technology Adoption?

    • Innovators (2.5%)

    Innovators are the group of people who make the first segment of technology adoption, constituting a small part of the total market (2.5%). 

    What makes an Innovator? What are the characteristics?

    Well, the name speaks for itself perfectly.

    The Innovators category refers to those who are action takers, extroverts and those who are willing to take risks and give new technology a shot. Often, innovators are the initiators of change; for instance, if you're the one who introduces a new product or a tool to your team/organization, you can consider yourself an innovator. 

    In the technology adoption life cycle, they are the ones who love to try new things, take on new responsibilities and have a contagious energy that invites and encourages others to try out new apps or products as well. They're full of enthusiasm about freshness and new experiences; you can be sure that they're the first ones to upgrade their phones, try a new product, or volunteer in beta testing of a particular tool.

    They rarely have a concern for failure which makes them perfect candidates for testing new technology since they will be completely fine with the possible risks that are associated with the process thanks to their care-free mindset. In addition, they are usually young, socially active people with a high financial state.

    • Early Adopters (13.5%)

    Early Adopters are similar to Innovators in that they are also comfortable taking risks and good with introducing trending technology; however, they do differ from innovators when it comes to setting their standards; they need to build a strong opinion of the technology they're being exposed to, before deciding to go with it and fully support it. 

    But they are a fan of a lot of things, too. 

    They often love being the first ones to know about new technology trends and they are very quick to sign up for new social media platforms before most people even get to know the names of them, or just out of curiosity and fun, they would be willing to test a new project management tool or platform. 

    Well, they still look a lot similar to Innovators to me. If that's what you're thinking right now, let's dig a little deeper.

    The two groups ' mindset is a big differentiator that separates early adopters from innovators. 

    While innovators have no problem with failing and everybody else seeing them fail, early adopters care a little more about their reputation. 

    Before recommending the technology to others, early adopters always make sure that they have gathered an adequate amount of experience and information about the particular product so that their word is trustworthy and their reputation is safe.

    As mentioned above, they like to appear knowledgeable and up to date when talking about new technology. And they also find it essential to make their speech solid by supporting it with experimental findings and tests.

    They are generally young people with a higher social status and more financial opportunities, advanced education, and a higher level of extrovert characteristics than late adopters.

    • Early Majority (34%)

    Early Majority members are logical, practical, and have data-driven points of view toward the technology adoption process. They are interested in new services and products, but it's safe to say that they are more interested in seeing proof of their advantages and impactfulness. This is also where they differ from early adopters and innovators. For them, the efficiency and the substantial benefits of the novation are more important than the product's popularity.

    You can think of them as the people who go through every review site before making a purchase online or ask around for different opinions on a particular product; they need an overall picture of service and a time of adoption that's longer than that of innovators and early adopters before deciding to stick with it.

    It would be best to make sure while encountering these adopters -also called pragmatists- in this category that you have built a pragmatic approach that shows them solid evidence demonstrating what that specific technology promises to achieve. This is because the Early Majority group are typically skeptical about change, and they might need external support to get used to the process smoothly and efficiently.

    • Late Majority (34%)

    Similar to the early majority, the late majority also needs a data-oriented reason to be convinced to adopt new technology. These people are not a fan of taking risks, and they have a strong likelihood of questioning the need for alterations.

    They are very cautious, logical and are not easily tempted by things like trends or popularity rates, but instead, they are more interested in examining and paying close attention to how changes impact the current situation before getting involved.

    You might have a better picture of them in your head if I probably say that they are the ones who keep ignoring the update pop-ups by hitting snooze on them and don't mind waiting for other people to try the changes first and see if they are happy with them. 

    This can be seen in their choices; they usually choose products with a stable reputation on the market and love to take references from others before making a decision. 

    So, as you can understand, they are a little harder to convince, and that's why you should gather adequate research and strong proof to make them believe that the new technology is worthwhile.

    • Laggards (16%)

    ''And... What's in it for me?''

    Okay, I admit that's an unusual way to start writing under a title, but you've just read a sentence that Laggards use all the time.

    Why is that?

    Well, the answer is quite simple. Laggards are the most prominent skeptics, resistant to change, and are wary of new technology so it's ubiquitous for them to wonder what's in for them before agreeing to get on board. 

    They tend to have traditional minds and they make up the oldest population among other adopter types. They have also been found to interact only with their close friends and kin and are unwilling to communicate further within different social areas.

    They are stubborn and very decisive when it comes to their wants and expectations are easily frustrated and fast to give up with a product if it fails to impact their lives for the better immediately. This is what makes them the slowest to get used to the new conditions and unwilling to make any change -when I say unwilling, I mean it. Laggards could go on with the same routine if they could and not change anything if they weren't forced to keep up with everyone else.

    Crossing the Chasm - The Real Challenge

    You might be familiar with the term “Crossing the Chasm,” also the name of the old bestseller by Geoffrey A. Moore, a work that perfectly relates to most entrepreneurs' everyday problems and challenges today. Over time, the book has become a perfect display of the attention and care required to get early-stage products across the challenging chasm from early adopters to mainstream customers.

    Crossing the Chasm - The Real Challenge

    Let me elaborate a little further. 

    ''Crossing the Chasm'' is the most critical moment in the adoption process. Now that you've come to the point where you know the characteristics and actions of the 5 segments of technology adoption, it's easier for you to understand what each group expects from the product to accept it fully.

    Crossing the chasm moment happens when the Enthusiasts have accepted the novation - innovators and early adopters- but Pragmatists haven't yet - you already know who they are.

    And at this point, I can hear you ask, ''Why does crossing the chasm have to be a challenge?''

    Well, it doesn't. I admit it can be slightly tricky because the gap between the thinking norms of the early market -early adopters and innovators- and the mainstream market -early & late majority and leggards- is quite wide and innovation projects tend to fail if they cannot bridge this chasm between the two groups, but it's not something impossible for you to overcome.

    Here's how.

    If you focus on meeting the needs and expectations of the pragmatic majority at the right time by making sure that your novation is %100 functional and contains no errors or bugs, you'll have done half the job already.

    And, when I say functional, I'd like you to note that your innovation doesn't have to contain a million useful features; but the key is making sure it HAS all the features that it promised to have.

    Once you're confident about your innovation's capabilities, the next thing to make sure is that your primary contact or the person you choose to lead the project is one of the Innavotors -the most excited ones- and it would also be wise of you to build a management team that consists of early adopters.

    And what's next?

    Keep in mind that the other groups are not exactly eager to encounter something new, on the contrary, all they want is something that works, something to make their lives easier and is already being used by other people for they want assurance. 

    They want to trust you with your ideas or new products.

    So, what you need to do here is aim for the early majority's approval for it will bring your process a trustworthy reputation and good referrals that will help you take action toward the last two groups as well. Keep in mind that early majority members are optimistic about seeing your functional solutions and solid strategies, but they'll still be careful about any possible fraction.

    The way to drive the existing competitors out and convince the early majority to build trust toward you and your business is paying attention to market segmentation and using it as a base for broader operations.

    Are you wondering how to do that?

    First, target a very particular group of individuals that need you to solve their problem and build a reputation until you have the opportunity to own that market; this is the approach that will enable the early majority who need to be provided with a whole product instead of settling for a few features to see you as a leader. 

    Wrapping up real quick, here are the four steps that will help you cross the chasm when combined with research, effort, and devotion.

    • Understand the technology adoption lifecycle
    • Define your target market
    • Provide a whole product 
    • Know your competition and aim for providing better service

    Now that you're done with one of the most intimidating processes of the technology adoption journey, I assume you understand and appreciate the importance of crossing the chasm and where your product stands within that frame. Remember, it's not the first to market, but the first to cross the chasm, who wins.

    Making your product appealing to the masses

    Moving on to the next crucial concern along the way: understanding how to make your product appealing to the masses so that your users experience a smooth product adoption process.

    And, why should I about mass appeal, again?

    Well, here's your answer. 

    When your product achieves mass market appeal, it becomes easier and faster for it to reach out to the last adopters - the laggards. Put simply, the faster this process is, the faster you climb the ladders of success.

    So, as the name suggests, mass-market appeal means that any product or service you're providing is appealing and being loved by mass markets instead of a single one. Generally; startups, people with new ideas, or inventors brainstorm on creating a solid strategy that makes their product appeal to the targeted audience & market because they are aware of what it means to them: tons of profit and success.

    That's why I'm very willing to move on to the top aspects to keep in mind when creating a product with mass-market appeal.

    Here you go. 🤝

    •  Focus on needs.

    One of the best ways to develop a product that works and reaches out to many people is a straightforward one: Know your audience well and pay attention to their needs.

    One of the benefits of communicating with your audience -asking them questions, replying to their feedback, etc.- is that you get to understand what their needs are. When you achieve this, you will be more likely to connect with these people and make them interested in your products and services as long as you focus on how they speak to your customers' needs.

    Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of paying too much attention to the features of their products and neglect how these products actually solve the pain points of customers.

    • Stop having a salesy attitude.

    You've been a customer before. And so have I. 

    I'm sure you'll agree with me when I say I hate it when a brand is always trying to sell its services to me before even considering me as a person. What I mean is, everybody would want to read and listen to some unique content that isn't entirely made of sales pitches once in a while. The opposite scenario would only bore the potential customer away.

    Keep in mind that %80 of your content should be offering valuable information that aims for empathy and understanding toward the customer. Only then the %20 that's left can talk about your brand, product, service, and what they're offering.

    • Never stop aiming for more.

    Another way to achieve mass-market appeal again has something to do with customer satisfaction

    You need to examine your brand image and try to come up with fresh methods, different ways to improve and constantly enhance your service.

    The more you adapt to this approach, the more people will appreciate your effort and, more importantly, benefit from it.

    • Choose emotions.

    Going with emotions is by far the best way to build a connection with a group of people, the targeted audience, or individuals. It's a fact that people are more easily and quickly moved to take action by emotions than simple logic.

    For instance, you have a product about animal care, maybe an app that helps pet owners keep track of their pet's movements around the house, then you would be more likely to connect with your audience by telling the story behind the app's foundation process, maybe show a couple of pictures with your own pets rather than listing a bunch of facts and stats that support your service.

    That was it for me today! I hope this article helped you understand and utilize the technology adoption curve and enabled you to realize its importance regarding your business. See you next time and stay safe until then.

    Keep engaging, finding new ways to engage, and never stop testing!

    You can also check the top tech companies in the world.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is the adoption curve concept?

    The adoption curve concept is a theory that classifies the user personas into numerous categories based on their likelihood of accepting new technology, product, or service. It's beneficial and crucial for identifying customers within 5 different segments: Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards.

    What is the most important part of the adoption curve?

    Crossing the chasm is the most critical moment in the whole adoption process since it suggests the wide gap between the mindsets of two highly different groups -enthusiasts and pragmatics- and innovation projects are very likely to fail if they cannot correctly bridge this chasm between them, which makes it crucially important for you to focus and pay attention to the ways that will ease your process.

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