Consumer Adoption & Classification of Adopters

Consumer adoption deals with the purchase behaviour of consumers relating to a product after they have become aware of it. When a new product is introduced in a market, some consumers buy (adopt) it very quickly, some consumers wait for assurances from early users to make their first purchase, while a majority of consumers buy it only when the product is tried and tested in the market or only when it is necessary for them to buy it.

Marketers constantly try to influence customers to adopt new products and services, therefore it is necessary for them to identify and understand the behaviour of various groups of customers on the basis of how slow or fast do they adopt a product or service or how much time do they take to adopt a new product or service.

Consumer Adoption – Classification of Adopters

consumer adoption stages

To study Consumer Adoption consumers may be divided into five groups on the basis on time taken by them to adopt a new product or service during its life cycle. They are:

  1. Innovators (2.5%) – Innovators amount for only 2.5% of the consumers. Innovators are early buyers and risk takers, they are the first to purchase the product at the beginning of its life cycle. They are adventurous people, who like to try new products and stay updated with the latest products and trends, they do not hesitate to pay a premium price for the benefit and are always eager to learn more about latest products from magazines, T.V., internet.

  2. Early Adopters (13.5%) – The next 13.5% purchasers are early adopters who take calculated risks before buying a new product. They are generally opinion leaders of a group and the success of the product greatly lies upon their adoption of the product. Early adopts weighs the pros and cons of the product before buying it and upon satisfaction help the product to become socially acceptable by providing information to their social groups.

  3. Early Majority (34%) – The early majority are cautious people who only buy a product when it has been accepted by the early adopters and innovators. They are well-educated buyers who do not have the time or resources to research a product and rely on personal sources for information regarding products and services. They do not buy the product until it is socially acceptable and successful.

  4. Late Majority (34%) – It consists of 34% of the late consumers who adopt a new product only due to social pressures or non-availability. These consumers are less educated and therefore are very skeptical in nature. They rely on informal sources for information and make a purchase only after the majority has already purchased it.

  5. Laggards (16%) – The last 16% of the buyers are traditional or elderly people with little or no social interaction, who show great resistance towards adopting a new product. Some laggards never purchase a product while others purchase it at the end of its life cycle. They are uneducated people with low status and earnings and they purchase a product only when the existing product is out of use (broken and cannot be repaired).


Marketers aim to identify and focus on innovators and early adopters and offer price promotions or free trials or samples backed by extensive advertisement for these groups. Early adopts work as change agents for the product and help to overcome resistance from the public and influence other consumers to adopt or buy the product. Therefore marketers first focus on early adopters capable of becoming opinion leaders whom others groups will follow. Special care must be taken in identifying these groups as an innovator for cars may be a laggard for bikes regarding consumer adoption.  

After the early majority has been satisfied, special strategies are formed for later consumer adoption stages (late majority and laggards) offering huge discounts, guarantees and other marketing tactics.

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