Innovating and Diffusing

Innovating and diffusing.  These two words may not be familiar, however when combined they describe a process that is constantly happening around us called Diffusion of Innovation.  Diffusion of Innovation is an interesting theory created by Everett Rogers.  An innovation can be many different things.  Innovations can be objects, such as a remote control or they can also be an idea or practice.  Newness is one thing all innovations must be. Some of my favorite examples of an innovation are the ipod, cell phones, and personal computers.  Once again however, an innovation doesn’t have to be a type of new technology.  The diffusion of an innovation happens when people learn more about the innovation through assorted channels, such as mass media or social media.  It will take people a various amount of time to learn about the innovation and decide if they want to buy it or do it.  The theory identifies steps people must go through in order when an innovation is diffused. The stages of awareness are knowledge and interest, decision, trial or implementation and confirmation or rejection of the behavior.  People will complete these steps at a different pace therefore different categories help label them. These categories are innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards.  You might be which category you fall under, and here are a few statements that will help you decide.  If you camp outside the store and stand in line for days waiting for the new iphone you are an innovator, these people tend to be less social than other groups.  If you still pre-order the phone or get it within the first few weeks, and get it pretty quickly you are an early adopter.  The opinions of the early adopters usually help influence the following groups.  The early majority is the next group and these people still get the iphone fairly quickly.  They are able to gauge their decision based on the reviews of previous groups.  Once the iphone has been out a while and it starts to be a normal thing to see around the people who decide to buy at this point are the late majority.  The final group are the laggards, there are people who may not want to adapt the new innovation but are forced to for some reason.  I hope these definitions help clarify which category you would fall under.

I believe this theory is a great way to look at new technology.  I have found it to be a practical way of explaining almost all new innovations.  It is usually very accurate and can help advertiser predict buyers.  By knowing all that we do about each category of people, we can better reach them.  Until next time, happy diffusing!


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