Perhaps one of the most beloved consumers in the marketplace, the early adopter is the forerunner of customers. Companies that are releasing new products love the early adopter because of their consistent habit of taking risks. The early adopter can be described as adventurous, curious and popular. An early adopter thinks nothing of standing in line for hours, waiting to be one of the first to own a new product or to participate in the new release or upgrade of an existing one. They tend to buy early (and quickly), talk a product up and share their opinion (both good and bad) about the product they purchased.
The subject of countless studies, companies seek out early adopters to use as test runs for their products and services. An early adopter is considered to be a leader and an innovator who looks to solve problems, and who are generally considered ‘cool’ among their peers. Regardless of cost, they will purchase a new item (such as a new version of a smart phone, for example) even though waiting several months would allow them to purchase the item cheaper. Cost is secondary to the thrill of having the new item.
Early adopters should not be confused with the innovators – they are not risk takers who venture into unknown territory to create a new product. They simply enjoy being among the first to use the new innovations, and are not hesitant to inform everyone about their thoughts regarding the product.
Attracting an early adopter to a product can be done by emphasizing the ‘new features’, the exclusive ‘first look’ at products or a test panel where consumers are invited to try out the new product. While early adopter sales are not an exact indicator of how a product will fare in the marketplace, it does give a company valid information regarding the successful (or not so successful) launch of a product.