Early Adoption: Smart or Silly?

15% of the population is made up of ‘early adopters’ or lighthouse customers.

They can’t wait to get their hot little hands on the newest anything, especially if it’s technology. New iPhone, BMW, Apple Watch, runway fashion, app – if it’s early days count them in.

Early adopters understand that the cost for early adoption may be a buggy product and possibly high prices, but they don’t care. The desire to be first in line makes up for any of the inconveniences or extra expense.

Many brands, especially if they’re smart, play up to these lighthouse customers.

They are, in general, excellent brand ambassadors. Early adopters tend to talk, which may not be the greatest thing if that first run has design flaws. But if you believe in your product, getting it into early adopter’s hands is one of the best marketing strategies going. Client Susan Paley saw this play out when she was at Beats. Real time word of mouth marketing can be less expensive than traditional routes, such as advertising. And it’s authentic. Endorsements from friends and family are more powerful than a brand telling you why you should buy their product.

I tried the MacBook Air just out of the gate. Truth is, I’m not an early adopter (though I should be) but I travel so much it seemed like a great solution to lugging around a heavy computer. Sadly, that first series was filled with bugs, but it sure was cute. I ended up giving it away.

Here’s the thing: Early adopters come in two classes. 

The people who really are interested in something new and up for the risk, and the people who are status conscious and want to be seen with the new thing. I’m not risk averse. My employees have actually referred to me as ‘rogue.’ Not sure that’s a good thing. I’m happy to take a chance on something new, I just don’t like feeling that I’m being played. And I don’t need to be first. There are a lot of ‘me’ out there...

...so marketers (I’m taking notes) if you want to capture my imagination, make it easy for me to test your product without feeling like I’m being sold. Authentic appeal. Works every time.