What are the product characteristics that influence the adoption rate of a product? If you develop and market a new product, you should know what its characteristics mean for its rate of adoption. Some products catch on almost overnight: for example, both the iPod and the iPhone flew off retailers’ shelves at an astounding rate from the first day they were introduced. Other products take a longer time go gain acceptance. But are there certain product characteristics that influence the adoption rate, regardless of the specific product? Yes, there are.
If we look at the example of HDTVs, we see a rather slow rate of adoption. They were introduced in the 1990s, but by 2010, only 51% of European households had adopted the technology. The new TVs have certain product characteristics that influence the adoption rate.
5 Product Characteristics that influence the Adoption Rate
In particular, 5 characteristics are especially important in influencing an innovation’s rate of adoption:
- Relative Advantage. The relative advantage refers to the degree to which an innovation appears superior to existing products. HDTV offers substantially improved picture quality. This speeded up its rate of adoption.
- Compatibility. Compatibility is the degree to which an innovation fits the values and experiences of potential consumers. It belongs to the product characteristics that influence the adoption rate because consumers will only slowly start adopting a product if it is not compatible with their mindset. HDTV, for example, is highly compatible with the lifestyles of the TV-watching public. However, in the early years, HDTV was not yet compatible with programming and broadcasting systems, which slowed adoption. Similarly, you would not buy a battery-driven car if there were no chargers available to charge it. Likewise, you will not buy such a car if the battery range is 100km but your way to work is 150km per day – it simply does not fit your life. Now, as more and more high-definition programmes and channels are available, the rate of HDTV adoption has increased rapidly.
- Complexity. The degree to which an innovation is difficult to understand or to use is also one of the product characteristics that influence the adoption rate. HDTVs are not very complex. Therefore, as more programming has become available and prices have fallen, the rate of HDTV adoption is increasing faster than that of more complex innovations.
- Divisibility. Divisability refers to the degree to which an innovation may be tried on a limited basis. Would you buy an expensive innovative new car without having the opportunity to test it before? Early HDTVs and HD cable and satellite systems were very expensive, which slowed the rate of adoption. As prices fall, adoption rates increase.
- Communicability. Even if all other product characteristics that influence the adoption rate are favourable, communicability can still slow down adoption significantly. Communicability is the degree to which the results of using an innovation can be observed or described to others. Because HDTV lends itself to demonstration and description, its use has spread faster among consumers.
These 5 characteristics are the most important product characteristics that influence the adoption rate. However, other factors influence the rate of adoption as well. These factors include the initial and ongoing costs, risk and uncertainty, and social approval. Although a lot these factors depend very much on the nature of the product and may not be easy to influence, it is important to be aware of them for developing the new product and its marketing programme.