I was recently interviewed by Laura Rich, a digital media reporter, for an Advertising Age paper: Shiny New Things: What Digital Adopters Want, How to Reach Them and Why Every Marketer Should Pay Attention.
I recommend that you read the article as it presents many new angles and insights provided by professional researchers, marketers and early adopters (as Bill Tancer from Hitwise, Steve Rubel from Edelman, Robert Scoble, and many more).
I wish to further develop some of the points I suggested in the article:
Digital Adopters: what has changed?
Following the adoption of technologies in many consumer domains, a shift can be observed in the last few years in the segmentation and characteristics of early adopters. I tend to attribute this change to the wide and global adoption of the internet.
Technology is no longer the domain of a small minority of young male experimenters (previously known as “geeks”). It is now one of the main communication and business channels available. Consumers are no longer passive to new technology, but are fast learning – active producers.
Here are some evidences to the shift in the concept of early adopters:
- Technology is global: Asian and South American countries (considered as developing countries) are seen to adopt changes much faster than developed countries (follow their activity on social networks for instance)
- Gender differences are weaker than ever: Women are embracing new technologies.
- Adoption rates have shortened: from decades to years, from years to months (Facebook, iPhone).
- Social behavior and technology advancementare well combined: The first smartphone users are first to adopt social networks (Facebook, Twitter), to experiment with apps, to view TV via internet / mobile. (see PEW survey: 39% of internet users with 4+ internet-connected devices use Twitter) and next to use location based solutions.
The power of early adopters:
In the last five years, early adopters have received a stage to influence others. Social Media gave them the screen power.
Early social media users have grown to be the main influencers, and their influence is far beyond technology. They have become the new celebrities. As part of their positioning, they are expected to act as early adopters, much the same as celebrities are needed to keep updated with fashion.
What should marketers consider when marketing to early adopters?
Early adopters are physically easier to reach but now much harder to “buy”. Most of the brands (and Apple is one big exception) have lost their attractiveness. Brands that can provide early adopters a good reason why – will have a chance to influence. It’s all about proven value.
If early users will find your product handy – they will be willing to spread it. Otherwise – they will not hesitate to share their real thoughts.
I suggest you will follow one of the first Coca Cola initiatives in the social media domain. They choose Brazil as their beta site and sent bloggers a free gift. We named it “Rent a blog strategy” which obviously failed…
Marketers definitely need to learn and understand the new social norms shared by early adopters.