Consumer Adoption Process
Let us now discuss how consumers accept the new products. This discussion will help us in understanding the process of new product development. A large number of factors are examined to know the reaction of consumers regarding the adoption of a new product.
The process of accepting new product ideas by individual customers is popularly known as the ‘adoption process’ whereas the spread of this innovation across society is known as the diffusion process.
Diffusion is the process by which the acceptance of an innovation (a new product, a new service, a new idea, or new practice) is spread by communication (mass media, salespeople, or informal conversations) to members of the social systems.
The key elements of the diffusion process include the degree of innovativeness of the product, the channels of communication, the social system, and the time required for innovation. New products typically can be categorized as continuous innovations, dynamically continuous innovations, and discontinuous innovations.
When an innovation does not significantly alter the consumption pattern of the target audience, it is called continuous innovation; when it substantially alters, modifies, or enriches the consumption pattern, it is termed as dynamically continuous innovation and when the innovation establishes a new consumption pattern, we call it discontinuous innovation.
The choice of color television to a black and white television set is a continuous growth in consumption experience, whereas the choice of a mobile phone from a fixed wireline phone changes the behavioral pattern and provides substantial convenience to consumers.
The advent of the Internet and e-commerce are examples of discontinuous innovation where consumers establish a new consumption pattern. The innovating company can spread the message of a new product through neutral, social, and marketer-dominated channels.
The use of word of mouth and reference groups are examples of social sources whereas the use of government and trade associations for communication are neutral sources. Advertising and sales promotions are examples of market-dominated sources.
Innovations spread faster in modern and open societies than in religious and conservative societies. So the rate of diffusion will vary depending on the kind of society in which the innovation is to be commercialized. The relative time required for the spread of new product information in a society is also linked to the above phenomenon of the nature of society.
In an individualized adoption process, the consumer moves through five stages to either make a purchase decision or a reject decision. We have explained many of these propositions in the earlier chapter on consumer behavior. However, we will summarise the adoption process again for your convenience.
The stages are as follows:
- Awareness: During the first stage of the adoption process, consumers are explained the product innovation. It gives information about the new product or service.
- Interest: When consumers develop an interest in the product or product category, they search for information about how the innovation can benefit them.
- Evaluation: The evaluation stage represents a kind of ‘mental trial’ of the product innovation. Only if the consumers’ evaluation of the innovation is satisfactory will they actually try the product. In case the evaluation is unsatisfactory, the product is automatically rejected.
- Trial: At this stage, consumers use the product on a limited basis. Their experience with the product provides them with the critical information that they need to adopt or reject it.