Business Adopter Chasm

The 5 Categories of Adopters

According to professor Everett Rodgers in his book Diffusion of Innovation, there are five categories of adopters:

1. Innovators (Technology Enthusiasts) – These individuals represent about 2.5% of users and are willing to take risks on a new offering. Generally, they have a high social status and are often considered mavens. They have a high degree of financial liquidity to absorb failures and a high risk tolerance that allows them to adopt new technologies that may ultimately fail. They are connected socially to engineers and technology and they often interact with other innovators.

2. Early Adopters (Visionaries) – These individuals represent about 13.5% of users and are opinion leadership. Early adopters have a high degree of social status that allows them to influence others. They are more likely to spread the word than innovators with their followers. They are a bit more discerning in their adoption choices than innovators as a way to help them maintain the central communication position they enjoy.

Innovators and early adopters are primarily focused on technology and performance. A sort of chasm exists between innovators/early adopters and other adopters since the focus of other adopters is on solutions and convenience rather than technology and performance

3. Early Majority – These individuals represent about 34% of users and adopt an innovation long after innovators and early adopters since their focus is about solutions and convenience instead of technology and performance. A major pivot is necessary to refocus the marketing message to cross from early adopters to the early majority. While the early majority has above average social status and contact with early adopters, they seldom are opinion leaders.

4. Late Majority – These individuals represent about 34% of users and adopt an innovation much later in its maturity cycle. Late majority individuals approach an innovation with a high degree of skepticism and adopt the innovation only after the majority of society has already accepted it. The late majority often has little financial liquidity and are not in a position to influence others.

5. Laggards – These individuals represent the final 16% of users, and they are dead last to adopt an innovation. Laggards typically have an aversion to change, tend to focus on “traditions,” and generally are only persuaded to adopt a technology by close friends and family.

To achieve success, a business must first run tests with innovators and early adopters to refine the product offering. Then they need to run additional tests with the early majority to find how best to enter the mainstream. Each of the five categories of users requires a different marketing approach to win them over.

Do you consider the unique attributes of the five categories of adopters as you market and grow your business?

Note: this post first appeared at

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