Adopter Categories and the PLC

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. At 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 Adopter stages, 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, 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 new fitness routines may have a high probability of being categorized the same for high-performance energy drinks. This assumption may be necessary as an energy drink company develops its target marketing strategies in advance of the launch a new product.

Additionally, marketers should not view an adopter category as being a single market segment. Instead, each adopter classification consists of multiple market segments that together make up the category. For example, the Early Majority may be made up of many markets that can be segmented on different variables, such as geographic location, age, income, etc. Consequently, aiming to satisfy all customers in an adopter category using a single marketing plan is likely not an effective strategy.