Early Adopters

Updated on March 21, 2024
Article byAndrea Calcagno
Edited byAndrea Calcagno
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

Definition of Early Adopters

Early adopters are customers who purchase a new product or technology. They comprise the second group of people that get access to a product, idea, or service. They are preceded by innovators.

Sometimes early customers are given access to a product before the general public. They provide valuable feedback that is used to improve the product before launch. The internet has blurred the line between the first group and the second. Contemporary YouTubers, therefore, are both innovators and adopters.

Key Takeaways

  • Early adopters are the second 13.5 % of people that buy, review, and promote a new product or technology. Marketing campaigns must take early customers very seriously. They are the most vocal group.
  • Before launching new technology, manufacturers try to collect as much data as they can. Listening to early customers is very important—problems and bugs can be identified and fixed early on.
  • Manufacturers release a finished product to early customers creating a chain of organic promotion.

How does an Early Adopter Work?

Early adopters review products, test products, and give feedback. It’s important to distinguish early adopters from other categories. An early adopter is the second group to get access to the final version of a product. They are preceded by innovators—the first group.

Manufacturers refine the product before release. They retest it multiple times to be sure. Only then will the innovators take risks. After all, they purchase the product without any customer base or feedback. Most innovators are wealthy; they are used to risks. If they like an idea, they will invest without prior knowledge of the field. Innovators are the first group and are closely followed by early adopters. By then, feedback is available. The risks and problems are different.

The early adopter group has prior knowledge. They are invested in the article they are purchasing. They subject the product to a level of scrutiny that surpasses that of innovators. But over the years, their role has evolved. The internet has blurred the line between the first group and the second. Sometimes influencers are seen marketing a product right from its reviewing phase. Therefore, YouTubers can be seen as both innovators and adopters.

Based on their influence and reach, YouTubers often get access to trial versions before the public. These reviews feature products that are not completely ready for release. But this way, the manufacturer creates a buzz and anticipation. The influencer also benefits by standing out among their competition by getting early access.

Most adopters are just customers. They purchase and give opinions based on their experience. In fact, they are responsible for a chunk of total sales. Therefore, a satisfied base of early customers is key for business longevity. 

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Early Adopters Examples

Let us consider some real-world examples to understand early adopters better.

  1.  Apple has one of the most successful early adoption processes. They excel in providing feedback-based software updates and the actual distribution of early trial products. This is why they have achieved longevity and desirability.
  2. AMD has really stepped up in the hardware sector. They have visibly improved their CPUs and GPUs in the last couple of years. As a result, early customers have a lot of positives to ponder over. What was once a company on the verge of bankruptcy has become the top contender with a huge market shareMarket ShareMarket share determines the company's contribution in percentage to the total revenue generated within an industry or market in a certain period. It depicts the company's market position when compared to that of its competitors.read more. It is putting immense pressure on the price leaderPrice LeaderPrice leadership refers to a situation where the dominant firm sets up the price of goods or services in the market. This happens when there is no difference in the goods or services provided by different firms and customers don’t have a preference and choose the lowest price.read more.
  3. Sony has managed to stay on top of the gaming world for the last decade. It seems this market dominance will remain unchanged for the near future as well. This is partly due to their decisive marketing strategy. They outright refuse any early information. This forced a large majority of early customers to buy the PS5 through normal means. It further caused a huge spike in unboxing videos and first impressions—3,368,098 PS5 videos against XBOX’s 1,817,303. Their position seems unshakeable. 
  4. Linus Tech news: Linus is a veteran YouTuber. He has more than 13 million subscribers, eager to hear his opinion on anything tech. Many companies offer him trial products and free samples. His reviews give them valuable feedback— not to mention the exposure and pool of potential customers.
  5. Graham Stephan: This channel mainly focuses on finance and personal investment; Graham shares his experience with each service. As a result, he secured sponsorships from big players like robin hood and Webull.

Early Adopter Curve

The early adopter curve provides helpful insights into how and when to target portions of the customer base. This curve is a visual representation of how different groups of people are willing to try out a particular product. 

Early adopters curve

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Source: Early Adopters (wallstreetmojo.com)

The Diffusion of Innovations theory highlights the following composition:

  1. Innovators: The first 2.5 % to adopt a new idea.
  2. Early adopters: The next 13.5 %.
  3. Early majority: The first 34 % after the early adopters.
  4. Late majority: The second 34% after the early adopters.
  5. Laggards: The last 16 % to adopt a new idea.

Diffusion of innovations is a theory that explains how, why, and at what rate new technology is accepted. Diffusion is the process of conveying innovation to society. Society’s reaction to new technology depends on early customers, communication strategy, time, contemporary social culture, and the innovation itself.

This theory is key for any successful product launch. It charts the following steps:

  • Enticing the innovators.
  • Improving on the early adopter’s feedback.
  • Capturing early majority with a polished product.
  • Sustaining the campaign.
  • Keeping the late majority happy.
  • And finally, providing customer support to the laggards. 

Why are Early Adopters Important? 

Early customers are arguably the most important group to target since the success of a launch is decided in the early stages. With good reviews and good feedback, a launch will succeed if the manufacturer manages to deliver changes without spending too much.

Every consecutive step becomes progressively difficult without crucial feedback at the initial stages. Problems will be exposed, and fixing those will further take time—launch becomes difficult. But with a diligent focus on early customers, problems can be predicted early on.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is an example of early adopters?

Sony had a decisive marketing strategy. First, they outright refused any early information. This forced a large majority of early customers to buy the PS5 through normal means. It further caused a huge spike in unboxing videos and first impressions—3,368,098 PS5 videos against XBOX’s 1,817,303.

What are the different types of adopters?

Based on the response to new technology, people are classified into the following categories:
1. Innovators: The first 2.5 % to adopt a new idea.
2. Early adopters: The next 13.5 %.
3. Early majority: The first 34 % after the early adopters.
4. Late majority: The second 34% after the early adopters.
5. Laggards: The last 16 % to adopt the new idea.
6. Non-Adopters: There is always room for new customers.

Who are non-adopters?

The term refers to people who do not accept a new product or innovation. For example, in the automobile sector, non-adopters comprise the majority of the population when it comes to Electric Vehicles. Most still prefer or use automobiles featuring internal combustion engines.

This has been a guide to Early Adopters and its definition. Here we discuss examples of early adopters, their importance, and how they differ from innovators. You can learn more from the following articles –