An early adopter is one who tries new products before most other consumers. Early adopters are more common with technology products. They provide feedback to the vendor and help them to refine the product features, design, distribution, and support. Early adoption can also be viewed as a form of testing in the early stages of the product’s life cycle.
The best example of early adopters is that of the first iPhone by Apple. When it was first launched in 2007, the iPhone was priced at $600. The price was quite high, as Apple lacked any experience in the industry. But still, many of the early adopters did not hesitate to purchase the iPhone despite its prohibitive price.
An early adopter is one who tries new products before most other consumers.
Early adopters are important for the success of a product, as they provide companies and other consumers with insights on how the product will function on a day-to-day basis.
Companies attract early adopters by providing promotional rewards for being the first people to try the product.
Why Early Adopters Buy Products in the Early Stages
1. Early adopters are adventurous
Early adopters like to do things that other people dislike or fear to do. They fear being part of a crowd and their adventurous behavior reflects on the choices they make as consumers.
They take the risk of buying a new product and provide feedback, which helps other consumers to decide whether they would like to buy the product or not and also helps the manufacturers to make improvements.
2. They are instinctive
Early adopters possess an instinct to know if a product will be a success or failure, and if the product represents the future. Apple usually gives places high importance on the early adopters who wait in long lines when a new product is launched.
Short lines may sometimes be considered a bad sign for a company and its newly launched product. Early adopters also demonstrate a sense of how the product will perform due to their vast technical knowledge gathered from years of research and comparative strategies.
3. They demonstrate the fear of missing out (FOMO)
As we know, early adopters are usually young, well-educated, and well-versed people with a huge fan following, and they do not want to be the last people to know about a product.
It is especially important if early adopters are social influencers whose job is to embrace the product at the early stages and provide their reviews to influence their fans to decide between buying the product or not.
Strategies Used by Companies for Early Adopters
Once a company knows who the early adopters are and how important they are to the business, it then needs to adopt strategies on how to attract early adopters to the product.
Companies use a few strategies to entice an early adopter, including:
1. Pre-releasing the product
Early adopters want to be the first people to try the product and also let the world know about the fact, which also gives the product some advertisement. Hence, companies can arrange for a pre-release for early adopters and reward them for booking the product before its launch.
In 2020, Samsung provided its expensive earbuds (wireless earphones) for free if consumers would pre-order the Samsung S20 plus smartphone before the latter’s launch. Early adopters are always ready to take the risk when they know they are going to be rewarded.
2. Maintain a relationship
For certain companies – such as Apple – early adopters used to be and are still an important aspect of their success. By keeping in touch with the early adopters and listening to their suggestions, Apple demonstrates that they take customer feedback seriously, and it shows in their software updates. Also, through close customer relationships, companies can learn about customer expectations and get innovative ideas.
Negative Impact of Early Adopters on a New Product
While early adopters are beneficial to a company’s product, there are some instances where they can harm a product.
Early adopters are different from the majority of consumers. They may behave differently and provide biased feedback. Also, they will pay any price to own the product first. It may not help justify the price of the product if it is not affordable to the general public.
For example, the iPhone is very expensive in India. Early adopters wanting to own the product first will pay the high price, showing a huge interest in the phone. It will not reflect that the product is expensive and that the majority of the consumers in the Indian market won’t be able to own the iPhone.
Below are instances where too much dependence on early adopters might be risky for the product:
1. Early adopters are less sensitive to product limitations and bugs
Early adopters will be willing to forgo the functionality and design glitches to be the first people to own the product and gain likes and followers on their social media channels.
2. They might not be too bothered with the price of the product
As explained earlier, early adopters will pay any price to own the product first and maintain their status as “people who know it all”; however, other customers may not accept the price of the product. It will also make it difficult for the company to decide on an appropriate price for the product.
3. They are biased
While early adopters are either entrepreneurs, tech-savvies, or power users, some of them may be supporters of the company, and that will lead to over-excited feedback.
4. They give different feedback than others
By paying a high price and being less sensitive to design and functionality flaws, early adopters are power users, and their feedback may not represent the masses.
For example, an early adopter who is an influencer uploads a lot of high-resolution videos daily. So, they may recommend a computer with a very high resolution, speed, and storage – which may cost around $2,000 – while a majority of consumers would want to surf the internet and watch movies, which a $1,000 computer can do.
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