Identifying And Targeting Early Adopters

Early AdoptersEarly adopters embrace new products, services and technology before most other people do. From being the first to buy a 3D HDTV, to having that brand new app for their phone, they enjoy using new products sooner than their peers. Statistician Everett Rogers developed a theory called the Diffusion of Innovations that stated early adopters make up roughly 13.5% of the population. Landing these influential customers will push your product launch to the next level. They are usually outspoken and opinionated about the products they like – and don’t like. If their reaction is good, it can go a long way toward generating positive word of mouth for your new item.

Identifying Them

Early adopters will most likely be customers who already like and actively use your products and services. They have three characteristics:

  1. They understand the problem that you are trying to solve with your product
  2. They are passionate about finding a solution to the problem
  3. They are willing to pay for that solution

You need to make sure that your product takes care of the first two steps. The early adopters will take care of the third.

Consider surveying your clients to determine who might be a part of this group. This can be done either online or mailed to them. Ask them questions about things that they already own. This can tell you a lot about where they fall in the consumer spectrum. Give them a list of 6 or 7 products that represent different levels of adoption and ask them which ones they may own, for example:

  • iPhone 4s
  • HDTV
  • Blu-ray player
  • Other Smartphone (Android, Windows)
  • DVR
  • None

Obviously, you’ll want to modify this list to suit you own business needs, but the idea is the same. Use products that trend towards the leading edge of the technology in your industry in order to determine who might be part of this group.

Another technique would be to ask them about their behaviors towards new products, like this:
Compared to others, how would I describe myself?

  • I am usually the last to try a new product
  • I am usually among the last to try a new product,
  • I am usually in the middle when it comes to trying a new product.
  • I am usually among the first to try a new product
  • I am usually the first to try a new product

How someone views themself is often a good indicator; they know they’re early adopters and they’re proud to share that information with others.

Engaging Them

It’s important that you go after the right kind of early adopter. You don’t just want people who go after the latest trends or items that are hot at the moment. You want people who are passionate about innovative products, who want to influence others to want the same things that they do. You’re looking for customers who are open to experimenting with a new product or service.

By offering them a free trial of your product, you’re creating an easy way for them to do that. Home in on those who take you up on your offer. A good indicator of a future customer is someone who is willing and interested in your trial,especially if they don’t have to study your offer very much before they accept it. If they take action immediately, it’s very good sign.

Companies That Are Early Adopters

In a business-to-business scenario, you might manage to identify someone from this group within companies or organizations. It can be frustrating to see your progress derailed by corporate cultures that have other agendas. It’s better to forge relationships with businesses that have been able to integrate early adopter thinking company-wide.

Imagine you have the best shipping software in the world. It’s so good that it solves all the problems you could possibly have and then streamlines those solutions in minutes without any help. It is basically the best software solution ever invented. Who do you think would adopt this technology first: FedEx, or the United States Postal Service? FedEx, of course. Comparing a quasi-government organization to a for-profit business might not be entirely fair, but it clearly demonstrates my point. Some companies are risk takers, striving to be on the cutting-edge in their industry, while others aren’t.

Give Them What They Want

Early adopters love the idea that they’ve been able to discover a new product or business before anyone else has. Not only that, they love the fact that their opinions about the company are placed in high regard. Make them feel that they are members of an elite group. Create an email list and send them content before anyone else. This way, when your product is a success, this group can look back on it and feel a sense of pride that they were in on your product from the start.


Every company wants their products and services to be a success. By working for the attention of the early adopters, you’re ultimately helping to get them into the hands of people who will be advocates for your business for the best reason of all – they love your new product.

Posted in Branding, Market Research, Marketing, Product Launch Marketing

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Printwand Staff
Author: Printwand Staff

Our marketing, design and printing experts are passionate about sharing their knowledge. We're eager to help make your vision a reality in print. Be sure to explore the rest of the Printwand blog for more reliable, easy-to-understand information.

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