When a new product is launched, buyers will start showing signs of engagement at different stages. Some will run to buy the product as soon as it becomes available, while some others will be the last to try the product. This trend is captured by the Product Diffusion Curve model which categorizes buyers on how quickly they engage with a new product. This categorization leads to a bell-shaped diffusion curve that is divided into five different product adoption groups.
Innovators are the first group and represent the first 2.5% to engage with the product. Innovators are risk-takers that are willing to try out an unproven offering. They are usually well-informed and prepared.
Those are the next to follow after innovators and they represent the 13.5% of the consumers. They are usually educated and informed as well.
Early majority represents the consumers who await for the product to be tried and tested before they engage in a purchase. They rely on feedback from those who have tried it or recommendations from experienced people and tend to avoid risk. This section represents 34% of consumers.
This group represents skeptical consumers that are reluctant to buy a product unless it has become popular in the market. The late majority represents approximately 34% of consumers.
Lastly, laggards are consumers who try to avoid the adoption of a new product. They will only engage in a new product only if no other alternatives can be found in the market. Laggards represent about 16% of consumers.
Rate of Adoption
The rate of adoption is reliant upon many factors. Some of the most common are:
- Perceived benefits over competitors
- Perceived risk with the purchase of the product
- Product advantages
- Strength of distribution
- Marketing and advertising
- Packaging attractiveness
- Familiarity and strength of the brand
Benefits of the Model
The Product Diffusion Curve is a helpful tool that examines the buyer’s behavior upon the launch of a new product or service. This can in turn provide the company with useful insights on the sales forecast, marketing activities, raw materials planning and many other areas of the business. By understanding how buyers are segmented, a business can thereafter adjust its marketing strategies for each group and gradually roll out the change.
Product Diffusion Curve and Product Life Cycle
The two concepts are interrelated since the Product Diffusion Curve is partly responsible for the life cycle of the products. The most important thing to note here is that each stage in both models calls for different management strategies.
Considerations and Limitations
The Product Diffusion Curve has been heavily criticized for being unproven and too narrowly defined. Within this context, it has been argued that buyer behavior is affected by numerous factors that are constantly evolving and there is therefore insufficient evidence to claim that grouping buyers into these categories is accurate.