There are fascinating new technologies on the horizon inspiring new products and services. We have seen similar innovations in the past, and yet their adoption is often slow at best, or they completely ignored at worst. Why is that and what can you do if you organization has an innovative product or solution it wants to bring to market?
Many products that offer technological leaps are so dramatically different from the status quo that consumers simply resist them. Fortunately, this is often a short term phenomenon that can be overcome by taking into account psychology of your target customer, as well as your own. Yes, your perceptions matter just as much as those of your target consumers. You must keep in mind that you are biased in thinking your product is superior, while your potential customers are biased in thinking their existing solutions are superior. There is resistance for both you and your customer, and that must be overcome.
Manage Underlying Resistance to Change
First and foremen is to strive for significant benefit over existing solutions. The evidence suggests that consumers overweight existing product benefits and producers overweight their value of their new product. That means there is a mismatch. Step back and seriously consider the existing product landscape and how your product compares. Then work to ensure your product’s benefits deliver exceptional value over existing solutions.
Next, create a product that complements your target consumer’s existing behaviors and experiences. This will help consumers overcome resistance and make it much easier for them to adopt the new product. Changing behavior is extremely difficult, so anything that reduces behavioral changes will improve product adoption. This may mean incorporating features that are perhaps unnecessary, yet provide familiarity and comfort—such as self-driving cars that still have a driver’s seat and a steering wheel.
Finally, consider targeting new customer segments that do not have existing alternatives. Often this means creating an entirely new product category, or presenting you product as completely new. This may entail finding new customers not using existing products and targeting them, taking a completely different marketing approach with your product, or designing your product in a unique way to address the needs of a new segment.
Accept Slow Adoption Rates and Manage Costs Carefully
Knowing that consumers will be slow to adopt your product allows you manage cashflow and operations. Unrealistic expectations of adoption often mean companies burn through cash too fast and fail to capture market share. Seek out ways of raising awareness without depleting resources. Innovative sales and marketing strategies can be very effective. Blendtec’s “Will It Blend” videos allowed them to reach a large audience at minimal cost.
Seek to build a base of committed customers. These are customers that are likely to adopt new products and find exceptional value in them. They will champion your product and spread the value your product offers via work of mouth, social media, and other channels. These evangelist customers are invaluable to improving adoption rates and building brand loyalty, while also offering a way to keep costs down during a slow adoption phase.
Understanding your own biases and those of your target customers will help you manage the underlying resistance to change. Strive for massive benefits over existing products, complement current behaviors, consider targeting a new customer segment overcome the resistance. Recognize and accept slow adoption rates are real and manage your resources carefully.