Introduction to Diffusion Marketing
The history of new products and business model launches is fascinating, full of twists and turns. As technology evolves and consumers change their purchasing preferences, marketers must adapt their approach to stay relevant. That’s why the field is ever-evolving; no matter how well you know it, there’s always something new to learn. Recently technology has enabled the emergence of Direct to Consumer Models and subscriptions for consumer goods and staples. Both are examples of how paradigm shifts in business require marketers to adapt rapidly.
Nevertheless, the diffusion or adoption model is an evergreen framework for innovation. The basic model principle is intuitive but very deep and often difficult to grasp in its wholeness. In a nutshell, only specific consumers in a category embrace and can cope with a product or brand with room for improvement. Most other consumers will only adopt the technology and the innovation when it’s more stable.
What does it imply for the business? Above all, it’s an iterative process where new customers will adopt as manufacturers improve existing products or services until they’re flawless enough most people are ready to embrace them. When Flat Screen TVs emerged as innovation, they were just a niche in the TV market. But as the products improved and became more affordable, they completely replaced the cathodic tube TV set.
The key takeaway is that people take time to adopt new ideas or products into their lives; it’s not as simple as throwing something out there and expecting people to buy it immediately. Instead, we have a “curve” called The Innovation Curve (also known as The Diffusion Of Innovation Curve), which shows us how quickly new concepts spread through society over time based on how valuable those concepts are when compared with current methods and technologies.
What is Diffusion Marketing?
Marketing ensures the right consumers know your brands, products, and services, are enticed to try them and become loyal to the brand after the first trial.
The objective of diffusion marketing is to get your product/service into the hands of different groups in different stages. Not as many people as possible:
1) Innovators: are the earliest group in time. As mentioned before, they are almost prosumers, professional consumers, driven mainly by curiosity for the novelty, and they do a lot of work to help your company fix the tech/ benefit side of the product. They are between 0-5% of the population.
2) Early Adopters: this group belongs to consumers who adopt for the benefit (functional and emotional) and the novelty. While early adopters can cope with a certain degree of risk with the brand, the product must work. These are premium consumers. Typically between 10 and 12% of the population.
3) Early majority: technically, we refer to this as the group beyond the tipping point. When these consumers are involved with the brand and the product, we observe already mass-marketing behavior. By the end of the adoption of the early majority, a third of the population has embraced the brand or the technology.
4) Late majority represents between one-third and 50% of potential consumers. They are value-seekers but want to “join the club” and will wait for the right offer.
5) Laggards: these are the remaining 20% of the population, which usually adopt when the technology or the benefit is commoditized.
Crossing The Chasm
Diffusion marketing spreads a product or idea to the mass market from its initial niche audience. This can be done through word-of-mouth marketing, viral marketing, or social media campaigns. And while it’s a relatively new term in marketing, Diffusion has been around for decades.
The chasm is the gap between early adopters and mainstream customers—those ready to adopt an idea at any given time and those not yet prepared for it. While our experience is that products that tend to reach early majority consumers will also get late majority and laggards, crossing the chasm from early adopters to the next segment is not a given. The more disruptive the technology, the wider the chasm between those groups, and the more tortuous the bridge between the two.
In addition, once you’ve made it across, you’re no longer considered an innovator by anyone else; they’ve already passed you by on their way over! But how do companies cross this gap successfully?
Clay Christensen’s Jobs To Be Done in Diffusion Marketing
Clay Christensen’s Jobs To Be Done theory suggests that customers buy a product or service to solve a problem or satisfy a need. The concept is often used in diffusion marketing, and it can be helpful to understand how this model could apply to your business.
The term “jobs” refers to the idea that customers have specific tasks they need to be accomplished. This intuitively makes sense when you think about it—customers don’t buy products for any reason! They buy them because they’re trying to accomplish something specific: make more money, get more time off from work, lose weight, etc.
In the context of diffusion marketing—as applied by Christensen in his book The Innovator’s Dilemma—the jobs are often related to the innovators and early adopters (the first 10% of total market penetration). They are looking for products that help solve their problems (like reducing their workload).
How Do I Find My Innovators and Early Adopters?
If you need to ask the question, then you are in trouble!
To find these people, you need to know for whom you are building the product or the service. It won’t be easy to imagine if you cannot figure out who will be adopting it first. An excellent place to start is to look at what alternative solutions are available and which are the techy, frustrated users of those products or services.
Where Do The Early Majority Fit in the Diffusion of Innovation Curve?
An early majority is a group of people who are reluctant to adopt new products or services because they are unsure about their value.
They prefer to see what others think before deciding whether or not they will use them. They want facts and figures from credible sources rather than relying on hearsay from peers or family members.
The way to reach them? You can advertise directly to the early majority, but that will likely solve your awareness and equity problem, not add your brand to the consideration set. For that, peer networks or expert users will play a critical role in closing the sale.
There are vital elements to understand and target with Diffusion Marketing.
Diffusion marketing is a marketing strategy that helps you reach your target audiences across the innovation lifecycle. It’s based on the idea that people adopt new products or services in stages rather than all at once. Diffusion marketing is a product adoption process through social networks and communication channels. People tend to share their opinions about new ideas and products with friends and family members as they become aware of them, allowing them to spread like wildfire across social circles.
You can use diffusion marketing strategies to help you get your message out there by taking advantage of those natural relationships between people who have an existing bond through shared interests or acquaintances. Through diffusion marketing techniques such as word-of-mouth advertising, viral videos, or email campaigns using an opt‐in list through an email list provider (like MailChimp), businesses can increase brand awareness while earning trust from potential customers by sending them valuable information they want. At the same time, also growing sales leads for future conversions.
A note: Diffusion Marketing vs. Adoption
In this post, we have called adoption and diffusion marketing interchangeably. To most orthodox marketers, that might sound blasphemous, and they are right. The truth is that DiffusionDiffusion is a body of marketing that includes Word of Mouth marketing, which has little or nothing to do with adoption marketing. They might co-exist together but are not one and the same thing.
There are many more areas that could be explored in this article. But the key takeaway is that there is much more to diffusion marketing than just throwing your product out there and hoping it catches on. When done correctly, it can be a powerful tool for companies looking to expand their customer base. It’s essential to keep the different stages of adoption when developing your strategy because each group has different needs and wants from what they buy or use in their daily lives.
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