Just about all basic marketing textbooks and marketing websites, including KnowThis.com, provide a detailed discussion of the Product Life Cycle (PLC), one marketing’s fundamental concepts. An integral part of understanding the PLC is knowing that new products may be adopted at different times depending on which category of innovation a buyer belongs. The adopter categories, which include Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority and Laggards, was created over 60 years ago with Everett Rogers’ study of the agricultural industry. While many have criticized the idea that differences between when someone purchases a new product cannot simply be reduced to placing them in one of five innovation categories, much of what Rogers espoused still stands today.
When studying the PLC, most marketing students find that it is relatively easy to describe the characteristics and give examples of customers who are considered Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority and Late Majority. However, students are often less familiar with the Laggards category. As we note in our Planning with the Product Life Cycle tutorial, Laggards are the last to buy new products. They tend to hold on to certain products for many years even after newer replacement products have been introduced. For companies that sell older products, Laggards are extremely loyal. They are often quite insensitive to price increases and, thus, become a profit gold mine for the marketer and provide the needed income that enables a company to invest in the development of newer products. Whether you find Laggards behavior odd or not, from a marketing perspective, they are a key reason marketers need to be careful not to discontinue products too quickly.
For more insight into products that still used by Laggards, we suggest this story from TechRepublic. It discusses ten old-style technologies that millions of customers still purchase and use. These technologies, which include dial-up Internet access, dot matrix printers, cassette audio tape and beepers, have all been replaced by newer products, yet for various reasons people refuse to change.
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