The adopter categories help explain the shape of the life cycle for many products. For instance, consider how a new household cleaning product may become successful. First, Innovators may experience the product during the developmental stage and then become the key targeted customers at the beginning of the Introduction stage. Early Adopters will also be targeted during the Introduction stage and their adoption will determine whether the product makes it to the Growth stage. If the product survives the Innovator and Early Adopters it moves to the Growth stage where acceptance by the Early Majority means the product is entering the mass market. The product can continue to be successful as it is adopted by the Late Majority and, to a much lesser extent, by Laggards. Eventually product sales decline as Innovators and Early Adopter move to something new and the cycle starts over.
It should be noted that an assumption of a person’s placement in a certain adopter category for one product does not imply that person will also occupy the same category for other products. For example, someone who is an Innovator for one product may be a Laggard for another. However, with research, marketers may find that an individual’s adopter classification for one product applies across a similar set of products. For instance, those classified as Innovators for computer hardware may have a high probability of being categorized the same for computer software. This assumption may be necessary as a software company develops its target marketing strategies in advance of the launch a new product.
Finally, it should be noted that each adopter category may consist of multiple smaller market segments. For example, the Early Majority is made up of smaller markets that can be segmented on variables such as geography, age, income, etc.