How early adopters can give your product the edge

Early adopters can catapult your product from a niche solution to part of everyday life. Find out where to find them and how to win them over.
Feb 10, 2020 • 6 minute read
Zohaab Ishrat @zohaab85
Technical Co-pilot
Cover photo for How early adopters can give your product the edge

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Early adopters are a small portion of your total sales, but have a huge impact on your product hitting the mainstream

Have you ever wondered how a new product that no one was even aware of some time ago has become a sensation? How something that wasn’t even there is now a must-have for everyone?

We often wonder this when we come across products we're new to. New technology gets integrated into our society rather organically without us even knowing. There is a complete cycle of adopters that every product moves through before getting properly integrated with our society. And the key to having a product organically introduced in a society is through early adopters.

The cycle of adopters

The product adoption curve shows the position of early adopters as the bridge between innovators and the early majority to adopt that product. The early adopters only account for 13.5 % of the product purchase of a product’s entire lifecycle, but the effect they have on the success of a product is rather resounding.

product adoption life cycle

Innovators only account for 2.5% of the total lifecycle of a product and are the first ones to accept an idea or invest in a new technology. They are curious and risk-takers who are excited by new ideas and utilization of new and improved technology. But that doesn't contribute much towards the success of a product, as the real limelight falls on early adopters.

A product takes off slowly after innovators pick it up, but when early adopters become part of the equation, the product has a chance of changing a society’s status quo.

Who are early adopters?

Early adopters, as the name suggests, are the second (some consider them first) batch of product purchasers and testers after innovators have adopted new technology and pushed it into production. Early adopters are often among the most influential people in a specific market space, niche, or domain. These people often possess a degree of “influential leadership” for other potential adopters. Early adopters mostly have a very active social media presence and often express their own reviews regarding any new products that they like or dislike.

Early adopters generally have a fairly strong social status (giving them the ability to influence thoughts of others regarding any matter), enjoy reasonable financial freedom (more than early or late majority), are highly educated and possess a sense to approach, avoid or face risk (only when they are sure they won’t suffer any damage).

Being as smart and clever as they are, they don’t take as many risks as innovators and make more reasonable and sound decisions as to whether or not they want to become involved in a particular product. Early adopters always try to obtain more information and investigate more thoroughly compared to an innovator in the phase of decision-making.

Early adopters are typically those customers, who in addition to using the product or technology of the vendor will also be responsible for providing valuable and honest feedback to help the innovator (vendor) refine their research for future product releases while also serving as the associated means of support, distribution and service in the society.

The process of early adoption could also be called a method of testing a product in the early stages of its development. Early adopters, in exchange for being exposed to the risks, problems, and displeasures common to early-stage product testing and deployment, are often provided with special assistance and support from the vendors to rid any discomfort as soon as possible. The customer is sometimes given preferential pricing, terms, and conditions. Of course, new technology is often very expensive, so the early adopters often still pay quite a lot. This in return supports the innovators.

Why are early adopters important?

Innovators/vendors/manufacturers can greatly benefit from availing the services of early adopters. The early revenues they receive from those adopters contribute greatly towards the development of their product and refining it through constant R&D. The greatest benefit, however, is the endorsement that the product receives through the influence of those early adopters.

Early adopters also provide valuable insight into the further development of a product and help in devising a go-to-market mechanism. The acquisition of early adopters is fundamental to the development of new products. This process can bring some real-world focus and provide the innovators/vendors/manufacturers with valuable insights.

How do you get the attention of early adopters?

To get the attention of early adopters one thing needs to be clear: they're not guinea pigs to use to validate your product. They're people with a high profile and high social status who want to be viewed as pioneers of introducing society to new things. They are often willing to take risks if it means that they get to enjoy the comfort and benefit of a product before anyone else, while also being the first person to be viewed with that product in their social circle. This in return influences the society to research the new product and adopt it in their lives to make it appear as if they're on par with the elite class of early adopters.

By getting the attention of Early Adopters, innovators or manufacturers enjoy a specialized form of marketing that influences masses on a psychological level, creating a sense of urgency or dependency in their mind to obtain that product or technology introduced by the early adopters. The following three tips can be used to get the attention of an influential early adopter.

Think about their needs

First, you have to target the demand for an early adopter. Identify influencers who have a specific problem or challenge and introduce your product to them.

Early adopters are curious by nature and look for new ways to have their problems resolved, even if it means undergoing a little bit of experimentation.

Even though they're opinion leaders, early adopters are still motivated by the opinion of others whenever they're making a purchase. They want their innovative new purchase to be admired and respected by others. Innovators/vendors/manufacturers can greatly leverage this for marketing their products.

Go where they are

You can meet the early adopters in person. It's one of the best ways to interact with early adopters, understand their demands, and learn what they usually respond to. Or you can create ways to be noticed by early adopters. Build a noticeable online presence, create a little bit of buzz about your product; chances are, early adopters will come looking for you themselves. Try to leverage social media to your benefit to locate early adopters. Use targeted ads to test different demographics and develop a better understanding of what these people respond to first.

When you're targeting your ads, think about the channels where you're most likely to find early adopters. For example, a platform like Reddit will most likely be a better channel for targeting early adopters than a platform like Facebook.

You should also consider native advertising when you're after early adopters. Native advertising is advertising that fits within the context of a website. You've probably run across it. Native advertising can come in the form of sponsored long-form articles, infographics, videos or slideshows. It's advertising that doesn't stand out as advertising, and it's far more effective than traditional display advertising.

Research some of the leading websites and blogs in your product's niche, and then consider running native ads to get your product in front of early adopters.

Give them an appealing incentive

Be prepared with what you have to offer. Provide them with something they can use right away. Most importantly, keep it appealing. Make an irresistible offer to early adopters. Give them a discounted price or other perks help mitigate the risk they're taking buying your product.

The marketing advantage

Early adopters want to be viewed as role models and source a of authoritative information and knowledge about new products and technology. They want to be the first to introduce a new product in their social circle.

Other segments of the adoption curve look to early adopters for their approval or disapproval of new technology.

Early adopters can play a huge role in elevating your product from a niche solution to taking its place as the status quo. Just get in front of them, make it enticing and make sure your product is high quality and solves a real problem for people. The rest will be done by early adopters themselves. After all, they have a reputation to maintain.

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