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Target The Innovators And Early Adaptors

In the early stages of all businesses, survival dictates that you find buying customers as quickly as possible. That means targeting the most interested and willing potential buyers. Innovators and early adopters are those buyers.

Innovators (2.5 per cent) and early adopters (13.5 per cent) will be the critical foothold in a radical new technology or product market, typically accounting for 16 per cent of the market. In new technology or radical product innovation, the earliest adopters are the innovators. Innovators like to try out new products and ideas, they like lots of information, they read up in technical/professional journals and they do not need a final solution. They are critical to legitimising the new product and to convincing others that it works. Next come the early adopters or visionaries, who see the potential benefits that will accrue ‚personally and organisationally ‚if they aggressively use the new product to achieve competitive advantage.

Both of these groups are key targets at the start up and emerging stage of the entrepreneur’s business. Use your knowledge of their characteristics and work with the innovators to demonstrate product viability and to jointly educate the early adopters.

Figure 3.4: Early Adopters of a New Product

Target Group Innovators Enthusiasts Early Adopters Visionaries
Focus New idea/product Breakthrough that will create advantage

Product knowledgeable
Appreciates new ideas
Likes to test new ideas
Does not need final solution

Can imagine applications
Willing to take risks
Willing to invest to create full solution
Not price sensitive
Needs Early access to emerging idea/product
Involvement in information sharing

Lots of support
Wants to move quickly

Role in adoption process

Confirms viability

Helps commercialise
Gives visibility

Derived from Figure 4.4: Key Characteristics, Needs and Role of Adopter Groups‚ in Winning Market Leadership: Strategic Market Planning for Technology-Driven BusinessesAdrian Ryans, Roger More, Donald Barclay, Terry Deutscher, John Wiley & Sons Canada Ltd 2000, ISBN 0-471-64430-7

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