Application: Product Strategy, Communications Strategy

The Concept

Diffusion of innovation is the process by which societies learn of new concepts and adjust to them. It is a theory of how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread through cultures. It tracks the course of new ideas and concepts, like water purification or environmental concern, as they grow in influence through a society. It is used by public bodies to help with significant social initiatives like changes in health practice or agricultural techniques.

The phenomenon is, essentially, a communication process which involves word-of-mouth, publicity, and subtle forms of marketing. The social scientists who study this phenomenon recommend the use of opinion leaders, experts, and catalysts to help an idea spread. It is from this, not the product life cycle literature, that the attitudes of various groups of people at different phases of diffusion (which is used so extensively by marketers) are drawn (see Figure D.2). Some are:

  • Innovators: the first to adopt an innovation. They are willing to take risks and interested in scientific or technological ideas (gadgets).
  • Early Adopters: the fastest category to adopt an innovation and, generally, a larger group.
  • Early Majority: taking up the idea after a degree of time, they tend to be slower in the adoption process.
  • Late Majority: adopting ...

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