5 Ways to Change With the Times

In my last post I wrote about people fighting change by signing a petition to get Facebook to drop their new interface and go back to what everyone is already “used to”.  This article is going to describe the five basic types of consumers when it comes to adopting new products or change:

Innovators – This very small percentage of consumers see opportunities and jump on them.  They look around to see what they can do that will start the change and they get it done.  In 1941 the Bulova Watch Company showed the first ad ever on TV before a baseball game.  This had never been done before and it had people talking all the way through the game and for months and probably even years afterward.  They led the way for future advertising on TV.

Some modern examples are Facebook, Twitter and other interfaces that allow people to “Join the Conversation” as Joseph Jaffe would put it.

Early Adopters – This is a small group of people who want to jump on anything new that comes out.  They love change and live for change.  They always know about what is new and what will be coming out soon.  They are on lists to try things out and participate in many beta launches of new products and services.  It takes time to keep up with all of the change but they also reap the benefits.  By adopting early on, they have a first crack at all the luck and opportunity that comes along with it.  These are the companies that took advantage of advertising on TV once they saw that it has been done.  They are not afraid to jump on the bandwagon.

Some modern examples are companies that are using “new” Social Media to communicate with their customers like Starbucks, Nike, Google and AOL.

Early Majority – This is the group that waits to see how things are working out for other people that have already adopted the change.  They wait for the next version of the iPhone to come out before buying it.  They want to see actual reviews of anything that they are going to jump into.  They make what they think are educated decisions.  This group still has a chance to pick up on some luck and opportunity that the change offers.

Late Majority – This is the group about the same size as the early majority that waits until the “majority” of people have made the change.  They see the results and they wait a little more.  These are the people who look at a stock go up for months to be certain that it is a good buy and then buy it only to watch it drop.  These people miss out on a “majority” of the luck and opportunity that the change offers.

Laggards – The laggards are the people who hate change with a passion.  They have a routine and have been doing something for so long that they don’t want to change.  The only way that they change is when they are forced to.  For example, people who had VHS players and refused to get a DVD player.  Eventually they had no choice but to give in if they wanted to continue renting movies.

The laggards lose out on any potential luck or opportunity because everything is already used up.  Just look at TV advertisers these days, nothing can compare to Bulova’s first commercial.  Today, people forget about the commercial they watched several seconds ago. 


As Richard Wiseman used in his example about luck, look at an apple orchard.  The Orchard is full of apples, enough that you will be able to take all you can handle and not even make a dent.  Along come the innovators and eat to their hearts delight.  When the Early Adopters come along, there are a few apples missing but there is still enough for them to enjoy as much as they want.  The Early Majority comes next and can also have as many apples as they want but they just have to look a little harder or climb up to higher branches to get them.  The Late Majority doesn’t have much of a choice of apples but they can probably find a few if they look hard enough.  Finally the laggards show up and find nothing but a whole bunch of apple cores scattered around.

I used to be a part of the “late majority” before I starting working on increasing my luck.  I used to say that there was no point in changing so why bother.  I liked to get by doing the absolute least possible.  I would just float through life.  Then I saw the luck and opportunity that change offered and I jumped into the early majority and even the early adopter for some things.  I hope to join the innovators sometime soon.

 How about you?  What category do you fall into?