The characteristics of the new product affect its rate of adoption. Some products catch on almost overnight (Virtual Pets), whereas others take a long time to gain acceptance (Digital TV). Five characteristics are especially important in influencing an innovation's rate of adoption. For example, consider the characteristics of the MiniDisc in relation to the rate of adoption:
• Relative advantage: the degree to which the innovation appears superior to existing products. The greater the perceived relative advantage of using a MiniDisc over a cassette - say, it does not tangle or lose quality - the sooner MiniDiscs will be adopted.
• Compatibility: the degree to which the innovation fits the values and experiences of potential consumers. MiniDiscs, for example, are highly compatible with an active lifestyle.
• Complexity: the degree to which the innovation is difficult to understand or use. CDs have already introduced customers to the benefits of digital recordings, so the idea no longer seems complex.
• Divisibility: the degree to which the innovation may be tried on a limited basis. MiniDiscs have a problem here. They require a big investment if people are to replace their in-home, in-car and on-street music systems. And what if the technology changes again?
• Gommunicability: the degree to which the results of using the innovation can be observed or described to others. The benefits of MiniDiscs are easy to demonstrate on a hi-fi system, but are the differences big enough to show in a car or Walkman?
Other characteristics influence the rate of adoption, such as initial and ongoing costs, risk and uncertainty, social approval and the efforts of opinion leaders. The new-product marketer has to researcli all these factors when developing the new product and its marketing programme.
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