Monday, June 25, 2012

Post 3: Create Your Adopter Categories

For this posting, come up with your own adopter categories. Name each one of them and describe the characteristics of each group. How are they similar or different than the adopter categories proposed by Rogers in our main text? 


Norene Kelly said...

Rogers and company presumably perceive themselves more as innovators rather than laggards. Even though Rogers does point out that diffusion scholars do not mean to convey disrespect with the term, choice of language has a tremendous influence on meaning and thus the construction of social reality -- and naturally the people selecting terminology are the ones in power.

Therefore, for my adopter categories, I am imagining that the so-called laggards are the ones defining and describing the categories. Such a “reverse adopter categorization” is analogous to a reversed map (
The “laggards” would of course put themselves at the top of the hierarchy:

The Sages (Rogers’ Laggards) - These “salt of the earth” people have seen things come and seen things go, and have no need for the social approval that comes with jumping on the bandwagon. Some may be viewed as “old fogeys,” but the depth and breadth of their knowledge and experience can only be acquired through time (not money). Given their lack of “the latest,” their happiness rating may surprise you. No, they cannot inform you on up-and-coming innovations, but if you are looking for a home-cooked meal, some childcare help, or a listening ear, the Sages are your best bet.

The Herd (Rogers’ Early and Late Majority) – These people are simply in the middle of the curve, caught up in the stream, responding to advertising and word of mouth, purchasing and acting without much conscious thought at all.

The Know-It-Alls (Rogers’ Early Adopters) – These people have all the facts on the latest technology or fashion and are more than happy to inform and instruct you about what you should or should not adopt. Do not attempt to argue with the Know-It-All, or offer your own opinion, or suggest that their decision-making is anything less than correct; only they have the knowledge, and they will kindly pass it along to you (whether you want it or not).

The Slaves (Rogers’ Innovators) – These people are beholden to whatever is “the latest,” no matter how ridiculous, ill-conceived, or devoid of value. They are convinced that their position and outlook is a stamp of superiority. They afford their purchases via trust-funds, overly-generous parents, or credit card debt. The Slaves have been only too-eager to adopt, for example, DDT, the Pet Rock, and the BlackBerry.

Guntuku Dileepkumar said...

Rogers describes adoptive categories as “classification of individuals within the society based on innovativeness”. In Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations, he described the five adopter categories as: Innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. After understanding these categories, and applying my knowledge. I have come up with my own five adopter categories similar to Rogers.

The Pioneers (Rogers' Innovator): Pioneers are the first individuals who receive the information/technology and try to adopt aggressively. Pioneers are ready to take risks because of their financial stability and social status.

The Conceivers (Rogers' Early Adopters): These individuals ready to try new technology than others. Conceivers are eager to explore new technology, but generally not the most daring and not ready to taking risks. These individuals generally serve as role models in the society; other people follow them with a great respect. According to Rogers only a small majority of people are from Innovators, majority are from conceivers.

The Observers(Rogers' Early and Late Majority): These type of individual generally do not trust any product on the first sight. They show skeptical behavior. They adopt the new technology after a verifying period of time. Sometimes they may adopt the technology because of pressure from peers or economic necessity.

The Slow-footers (Rogers' Laggards): Slow-footers are last in adopting any innovation/technology. Slow-footers tend to be frankly suspicious of innovations, when slow-footers (laggards) finally adopt an innovation, it may already have been superseded by another more recent technology that is already being used by the innovators.

Stuart Davidson said...

Rogers places individuals into five adopter categories. Beginning with the first people to adopt a technology, the categories are innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. I’ve organized and named the adopter categories after the four-stage life cycle of a butterfly.

The Eggs (Similar to Rogers’ innovators) – These are the people who strive to be the first to try a new technology or innovation. They pride themselves on the fact that they act as leaders of society when it comes to innovation. These are the type of people who may have been the first Twitter users. They are the first 5% of adopters.

The Caterpillars (Similar to Rogers’ early adopters) – This group of individuals are not shy about experimenting with gadgets and concepts as they become readily available. They allow “The Eggs” to test the practicality of an innovation before deciding to adopt it. They will adopt an innovation while still in its infant stages. These are the type of individuals who were eating Snickers “Peanut Butter Squared” candies while most of the general public was beginning to be exposed to the advertisements for the chocolate. These people make up the 5% - 20% of adopters.

The Chrysalis (Similar to Rogers’ early and late majority) – This group represents the majority of people who will adopt an innovation. They make up the 20% - 85% range of adopters of a particular innovation. They like to adopt innovations that have been previously adopted by others, and offer a perceived comparative advantage to the status quo. Examples of Chrysalis are people who have adopted the iPhone in the last two years or so.
The Butterflies (Similar to Roger’s laggards) – This group represents the last 15% of people to adopt an innovation. They usually adopt innovations out of perceived necessity (downloading Google Chrome because Internet Explorer wouldn’t function for this class). These people generally don’t adopt an innovation after it has been widely adopted and may even be at the end of its product life cycle.

Stuart Davidson said...

I believe that "Pioneers" is a good word to link to innovators. The word "pioneer" invokes images of a trailblazer and someone who will take the risks of trying unproven innovations and technologies.

Anand Tripathi said...

Laggards: Grand Parents – As the book mentions people in this category tend to be suspicious of innovations and change agents. They need to be certain that a new idea will not fail before they can adopt. Like for example my grand father still does not text or use facebook because he is a firm believer of face to face communication or at least voice.

Late Majority – Parents: Members of this category adopt new ideas just after the average member of a system. Adoption could be governed by economic factors or pressure from peers, collegues or children. They do not adapt to a new innovation unless they feel that it is safe.

Early Majority – Myself: Members of this category adapt to this idea before the average member of the system. As it says before adapting to a new innovation I would wait so that all the bugs are resolved. Read customer reviews and then make up my mind.

Early Adopters: Younger Siblings: Members of this category serve as role models for many other members of the social system. Early adopters help trigger a critical mass when they adopt to a new innovation. Their stamp of approval is a must before Early Majority, Late Majority or the Laggards can adopt a new innovation.

Innovators: high school going Niece/Nephew: Members of this category play a role of gate keeper for flow of new ideas into a system. The qualities that represent them are rash, daring and risky. They are not discouraged by occasional setbacks when a new innovation is unsuccessful.

iafuelrunner said...

Rogers uses innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards to outline the types of people who adopt at which point in the adoption curve. I would use the following synonyms for those groups.

Discoverer: This person seeks out information on the newest technology. They understand a technology’s newest advantages and are likely to use social mediums to tell others about their experience. When the release date for the latest smart phone, IPad, etc. is announced these folks may pre-order so they can try out all of the new apps or features. While they may have the first-hand knowledge of a new technology their opinions are not the most highly sought-after.
The Cool Kid: This person’s adoption of a new technology persuades others to adopt the technology. Their opinion is highly sought after and are likely the “most popular” in a number of social circles. They are able to filter information into and out of their many social experiences. They won’t adopt every new technology because they are more selective in their decision-making process.
Followers: It will take more time (relative to “the cool kid”) for this group to adopt new technologies. They may have some interactions with “cool kids” but little with “discoverers”. They likely have more financial resources but are not looked to for new ideas or leading the way by their social circle. This group constitutes the continued upward adoption rate in the normal distribution curve of a technology but adoption rates continue to slow toward the peak of the innovation.
Skeptics: After a majority of the social system (or segment) has adopted a new technology, this group may still be skeptical about the technology. They will not believe mass media promotions for the technology but will likely have to be persuaded via interpersonal communications. This group adopts the technology at or near the leveling off point of the adoption. They have fewer financial resources and do not hold social status in their social system.
“If I Have To’s”: This group are the last to adopt new technology. They are averse to change and wish things could just stay the way they’ve always been. Their social circles are small and involve family and friends and they do not seek out “Discoverers” or “Cool Kids.” They have little or no opinion leadership.

Bobbi Newman said...
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Bobbi Newman said...

Norene - Love your reverse adopter categories! It certainly puts things in a different perspective which in addition to being interesting is also helpful. As we look at how and why people adopt innovations (especially if we are looking to influence that adoption) it is important to consider how they see themselves. The term laggard has a negative connotation and I can't imagine anyone walking around self-labeling with that term. Sages on the other hand aptly corresponds to how this group often seems themselves. It will also help those of us encouraging innovation adoption in this group to see them differently - instead of the slow pokes who are difficult and won't get on board they are the deep thinkers and the down to earth.

Norene Kelly said...

Anand, I like your focus on age in your categories. I think Rogers does not give age enough weight. Many younger people are very interested in having new innovations regardless of whether they can afford it. And I think there are plenty of older people who are cosmopolitan and have the financial means, but feel that something new is always around the corner, so are in no rush to adopt. Also, I think status is generally more important to younger people.

Bobbi, thanks for your comments. I am reminded of an article in which the author argued that later adopters should be targeted by developers and marketers, rather than the early adopters, because the early adopters will adopt regardless! If a product could attract all adopters from the get-go, that would be ideal from a marketing perspective.

Dan MacKenzie said...

Rodgers describes his difficulty in grad school trying to straighten out the confusing disarray of adopter categories. He eventually decided on five, and did not take into account incomplete adoption. In thinking about the categories, and my own experience in people picking up on new technologies, I thought five just was too few. It’s very nice for statistics, and I’m sure trying to keep track of many more than that might be a hassle, but this is sort of what I see in my experience.

Instead of the five, I imagine seven.

Makers - Not included by Rodgers, but would be the actual inventor, a slightly different category than innovator. They are actively trying to make new things for the sake of making new things (either for monetary gain or just for fun.) These are the people who are into DIY stuff, and have a subscription to If they see a problem, they make the solution. For the Iowa corn study, these were the scientists who created the new seed.

Seekers - Similar to Rodgers’ innovator, these people are actively seeking new ideas, and like something exciting. If they have a problem, they find out who has made a solution. They are probably the ones in your friend circle who want to go to molecular gastronomy restaurants.

Savvy - Closest to Rodgers early adopters, these people don’t necessarily seek out the new ideas, but they are connected to enough seekers that they hear about the latest thing a lot. Maybe they have a lot of friends outside their immediate circle, or they simply consume a lot of media. In any case they always seem to be a half-step ahead of everyone else. These could possibly be the opinion leaders.

Mass Market - Rodgers discussed how the categories exist in a continuity, but I just didn’t see enough distance between early/late adopters to make them separate. So this is a combination of early and late majority. These people don’t have a lot of savvy friends, and they aren’t seeking out new ideas regularly. They probably have a lot more on their plates at any given time to worry about the newest ideas. They work too much to have a lot of social input or their kids take up all of their free time. But once a new idea becomes more common, they are welcome to it. These people are just now picking up smart phones and other newer technologies.

The Content - Rodgers laggards. I agree that laggard is not a very positive word, and I just don’t like it. These people are content with they way their life is going, and they don’t need a lot of change to make it any better. They are aware the change is out there, but they don’t much care. They come in all ages, and for whatever reason prefer the simple life. Maybe they are the people who move off to an organic farm and sell goat cheese at the farmers market.

Isolates - These people are the non-adopters who are never going to adopt. This may be to financial isolation where they simply are not going to enter a market where the new ideas are present. It could be physical isolation, where the new idea just isn’t likely to make it to their lives. These might be similar to poorer populations or populations in developing countries.

Parallels - These are people who find out about an innovation, but never quite pick up themselves. They live alongside the innovation, but never really merge it into their lives. They aren’t non-adopters, because they like to use it, but they never take on the financial risk themselves. These people might only use computers at the library, and only ever use their friends’ cell phones.

Shaun Kelly said...

Dan, I like that you included Makers as one of your categories. I found it very interesting that Rogers calls the earliest category of people the innovators and that he speaks of innovativeness as the likelihood of a person to adopt a new technology. Yet, when I think of innovativeness, I think of the person who creates the technology, not the person who adopts, no matter how early on they do so.
Thinking of the makers, though, it brings up the question of whether makers are actually adopters. On the one hand, the scientist who invented the hybrid seed corn were probably farmers in their own right, and may only have adopted the hybrid corns on a few small test plots to see if it works before moving on to the next innovation. Or pharmaceutical companies that generate new medicines for diseases that no one who works there has. On the other hand, in the tech world, we have the concept of eating your own dog food, for example, many of the products that Google releases are products that they've been using in house for a long time before release (and continue to use extensively in house after release.) Do you include makers in the adoption curve if they don't actually adopt?

Shaun Kelly said...

Norene, I like your reframing of the categories. I think it's particularly apt when you think about Rogers' example of the laggard in his early study who turned out to just be way out in the forefront of innovators of the idea of organic farming. When we frame adoption in a positive light, it certainly shows an innovation bias even though the innovations don't always end up being universally positive.

Shaun Kelly said...

As someone with a Psychology background, I'm interested in the fact that Rogers on one hand tries to ascribe personality traits to all the adopter categories yet on the other hand says that adopter categories are specific to the given innovation. If the adopter categories truly correlated with personality traits, you wouldn't expect to see much if any movement among categories for individuals from innovation to innovation. I haven't seen this question adequately addressed in the readings, though maybe he does elsewhere in the book. So my adopter categories attempt to reconcile this. I'd imagine that the correlation between personality and adopter category is strongest at the long tails (and among non-adopters) and quickly weakens as you reach the gooey center of the normal distribution. As such, I present my proposed categories:

I'll try anything! - These are the folks who adopt innovations because they adopt innovations. They are sensation seekers and risk takers. Their decision is based more on trying something new than on . I'd guess this would include Rogers innovators and the earliest early adopters.

Pragmatists - These are the people whose decision is based mostly on their impressions of the innovation, not their propensity or aversion to new ideas. We can probably divide this up further into:
Early pragmatists - Late early adopters and the early majority. They had early access to information about this innovation and had strong positive reports.
Late pragmatists - Late majority and early laggards. Either had late access to information about or found early reports unconvincing.

Get Off My Lawn! - These are folks who stubbornly resist innovations because don't like new things. They don't really care what the new thing is, they just hate things that are new. And because they hate all these kids with their long hair and rock and roll music messing up their lawns. This includes both late laggards and non-adopters. Rogers acknowledges the problem with non including non-adopters his model and yet later on groups non-adopters in with the laggards in other discussions, so I think it's important to be explicit that they're included in this group.

Bobbi Newman said...

It was much harder than I thought to come up with 5 categories. Although like Norene I don’t think laggards is a good term for the last group I really struggled to find a term to better describe them. I’ve gone with sort of a wild west theme here. I also took into consideration that some innovations may never be adopted by all groups. People who fit the innovators category in addition to be early adopters are also more likely to adopt technology that never takes off in other groups.
Explorers (Roger’s Innovators) – This group is willing to get out and take the lead explore new technology and innovations. Because of their willingness to lead and try new things this group explores new areas that others do not and may never get to. Some of what they explore will never be adopted by the population as a whole. Because of their willingness to explore and adopt new innovation they also have a higher degree of discontinuance over all.
Scouts (Roger’s early adopters) – This group comes behind the explorers, slightly less adventuresome but still ready to adopt new innovations. This group is more connected to the following groups and leads the way (or scouts) for the settles and city slickers. This group may not adapt all of the innovations the explores have discovered.
Early Settlers (Roger’s early majority) This group tends to follow where the scouts lead, trusting them to have found the way. This group is willing to explore innovations but at slower and more secure pace the previous two groups. They learn from what the scouts have discovered and use it in their decision making processes.
Late Settlers (Roger’s late majority) – This group comes behind the early settlers and waits for things to become more settled before adopting.
City slickers (Roger’s laggards) – Finally we have the last group, this group waits until things have gotten quite settled before adopting. This group is not adventuresome and prefers the comforts of what it already knows. This group waits to be sure that innovations will benefit them before adopting and accepting them.

Bobbi Newman said...

Dan I really like the additional categories you included especially makers. Makers and creators are terms that are getting a lot of attention in my circles and I think in social media right now that's to the fact that social media and emerging technology allow more of us to become makers or creators.

The Content is a much better term than laggards and I think conveys the mindset of that group as well.

Joshua Jordan said...

As most have pointed out, Rogers gives us the categories, in sequence, of innovation adopters. They are the Innovators themselves, the early adopters, the early majority, the late majority, and the most lovable group, the laggards. On a side note, I don't find laggard particularly offensive; we speak easily of those who lag behind - isn't this just the noun derived from the verb? Who knows...

Anyways, I think it might be nice to see these category names inserted into some good old fashion Cold War tension. For those in capitalist America, the innovators would be the "Capitalists & Super Elites;" the early adopters would obviously be the "Opulent Class & Politicians;" the early majority would be the "Upper & Upper-middle Classes," the late majority would be the "Lower Classes;" and the laggards would be the ultra poor or those who can sustain themselves without adopting, thus we would refer to them as the "Destitute &/or Self-Sufficient."

For those in communist Russia, perhaps our classes would follow accordingly: the innovators equal the "Party Leaders & the Military;" the early adopters would be those who have risen in rank within the party, or the "Prominent;" the early majority would be the "Stately Citizens;" the late majority would be the "Unstable Citizenry;" and the laggards would be those we might call the "Marked for Death" group - which, come to think of it, this could be the laggard fill-in name for the capitalist Americans too....

Joshua Jordan said...

Shaun - I enjoyed reading your conception of Rogers' adopter categories. Specifically, I like the fact that you seem to challenge the the seemingly arbitrariness of the categories. If I am reading your post correctly, you seem to be expanding the categorization beyond what Rogers developed - almost an attempt to move away from categorical placement to a sort of spectral placement. Although the assignment forces categories to be chosen, I appreciate your recognition of individuals who might occupy two of Rogers' categories simultaneously. Also, the insertion of the pragmatist label, and subsequent subdivision shows an angle that I hadn't thought of applying before. I'm impressed, thank you!

Guntuku Dileepkumar said...

Dan, it is very interesting the way you expanded your categories. Generally we think laggards are the last individuals to adopt the innovations, but it is true that isolates exists in the society-neither convince about new technology nor willing to adopt.

Ben Lortz said...

In our main text Rogers defines adopter categories as, "the classifications of members of a system on the basis of their innovativeness." Rogers creates five adopter categories; Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards. Instead of using these terms I have came up with new category names using a clothing fashion approach.

Models – Innovator: These people are actively involved in the first stages of new products and are continually adopting new trends before anyone else. In terms of their adoption, they do not care about the public’s opinion and simply want to be the first to show off a new item.

Trend Setters – Early Adopters: The people in this category are the ones who quickly find the new styles and become the faces that the public relates the new trends too. This category is mainly full of people who are often in the media or have other means of showing off their appearance to the general public.

Fashion Savvy – Early Majority: The fashion savvy are individuals who continually look to the media for new styles that they can adopt. These people have a strong desire to look their best among others and this category includes most fashionably aware people. In this category you will find most of the general public who shops frequently to update their wardrobe.

Followers – Late Majority: The followers category is the group who waits until a fashion trend is nearly depleted before they decide to buy a product. Most often this group waits for items to become discounted before they buy or possibly because they do not want to be included in the fashion savvy group. This group tends to be strong willed and stubborn because of their reluctance to buy a product simply because the large majority of people are buying it.

The Rebellious – Laggards: The rebellious group is the individuals who have no desire to conform to the public’s fashion trends. This group wears clothing that shows that they are independent and is often far outside the “normal” guidelines for fashion. The rebellious individuals are not at all concerned about the public’s opinion with their fashion and often wear clothing that is purposely against the current fashion trends.

Ben Lortz said...

I really like how Bobbi used an approach that used the settlement of new lands. In our early history these terms probably were used very similar to what Bobbi has described in her post. The explorers and scouts really led the way for the early and late settlers and without their guidance many of these settlers wouldn't have made the voyage into the new lands.

Anand Tripathi said...

Guntuku, I really like your categories and I think I can totally relate to the observer category. I think I belong there too because I do not trust any product on the first sight. For e.g. when Iphone 4S came out all my friends went for the upgrades but I still waited till all the bugs and signal strength issues were resolved.

Henry Nav said...

Rogers' adopter categories are as follows (starting from the first to adopt): Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, Laggards. I would propose the following as an alternative set that may be more appropriate in certain technology areas, such as computer and software technology:

Initiator - they would include Rogers' originally defined Innovator group, but also those who are in the same group as Innovator through some association (fellow employees, friends, trial and invited groups of the true sources of innovation). So this category consists of the adopters who herald the new technology.

Traction - this category corresponds to Rogers' Early Adopters category. Based on the previous category I mentioned, these are the first groups of adopters that the Initiators come in contact with. They don't have a direct association with those who conceived the new technology, and are the first ones to know about the technology through mass media. Their main contribution is to give the Initiators a sense of how successful or otherwise the innovation will be, through initial public response.

Mainstream - this category corresponds to Rogers' Early and Late Majorities. People in this category are the ones who take the innovation to the level of the household name, either as a failure or as a success. They are mad up of a combination of eager and hesitant adopters because of different motivational angles (financial, social status, usability factors, cultural and political inclinations). I would hazard a rule-of-thumb guesstimate that this category contribute 80% of the adoption or revenue of a commercially-successful product.

Resisters - this category most closely corresponds to Rogers' Laggards category. They may adopt the new technology after some resistance or never adopt it at all. The reasons for their decisions are also mainly due to distrust/discomfort with new technology and comfort with old/traditional ways. But this category, I would like to point out, may also include those who have previously belonged to the other categories, and have moved to this one due to past experiences. For example, there are people who previously bought the latest and greatest computers for many years. They were always the ones showing and telling their colleagues of the new laptop model or new Windows version. But after years of spending money on the latest versions, they realized that the whole cycle did not add much value to their lives. And so now they focus more on essential, timeless aspects, and are more selective of their adoption of new technologies.

Henry Nav said...

Shaun, your first-person-statement style of naming the categories (e.g.,, "I'll try anything", "Get Off My Lawn") is interesting, catchy, and effective, in my opinion. This style focuses on what the personas of each category might say in an "in-a-nutshell" manner. These names captures the essence of the majority attitude in each category, in a choice of words and expressions that everyone gets.

Sam Shenker said...

I would split adopter categories based upon how the individuals make their decisions to adopt a new idea rather than where they lay on the s-curve.

Individual pioneers: These are individuals that get information from either traditional or non-traditional mass media channels. They decide they wish to adopt the idea without the input of friends, family, or co-workers. Individual pioneers are often quite early on the S-Curve because the primary factor of them adopting a technology other than whether or not it is good for them is whether or not they have heard of it. The individual pioneers are essential for an idea to spread into the much larger pool of personal advice holdouts.

Personal Advice holdouts: These are people who will want to hear a personal experience of how well a technology works out from friends, family, etc. Even if the idea is great, for one reason or another they are risk-averse and greatly prefer another person’s opinion to back the claims that the Inventors make. These people would primarily be the early and late majority categories.

The Skeptics: These are individuals that are quite late to adopt a new idea, and often don’t even adopt it. As behavior diversity is important in a population, these are people who care more about unknown side effects of a new innovation and often need to hear a lot of personal vouching for an idea as well as an official statement that something is safe by a government body as well.

Daniela Dimitrova said...

These are probably the most creative adopter categories I've seen in this class for the past eight years!

Still they leave us with a few questions for ponder over:

1) How many adopter categories should we have?

2) Are the adopter categories innovation-specific or are they correlated with personality traits? In other words, is an innovator always an innovator?

3) How can we detect most accurately which adopter category an individual belongs to?

4) Which adopter category should marketers focus their efforts on to target?