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Diffusion and Innovation: Reaching the Millennials

· Marketing,Public Opinion,Engagement
Anneshia Hardy | The Hardy Exchange
In order to implement an innovative and strategic communication strategy, you must have an understanding of both communications, popular culture, and technology. Furthermore, being an innovative and effective strategic communicator of today means being a “communicating-tech-driven trendsetter.” Professionally, I have over 8 years of strategic marketing and communications experience. Recently, I have noticed an increasing amount of clients are shifting focus from “How can we gain a competitive advantage?” to “How can I reach the millennial generation?”

You want to hear a secret?

These two questions are one in the same!

The millennial could be considered the driving force behind the rise of the digital era. They are not only the consumers, but the developers of the next wave of tech savvy products, applications, and solutions. If you are operating a business in a society that is driven by innovation and technology, you want to make sure your organization is able to effectively communicate across the various innovative emerging media channels. As a strategic communicator it is vital that you understand how, why, and at what rate innovation is embraced by society.

Innovation – is a new idea, practice, or product that is perceived to have cutting edge features or components.

Diffusion – is a course by which innovation is shared through specific platforms over time to a segment of people in society.

The Diffusion Innovation Theory, developed by Everett Rogers, serves as a great reference for strategic communicators when trying to predict the how, why, and at what rate a new innovation is adopted. The diffusion of innovation theory is also an effective tool in predicting the likelihood of the success or failure of a particular product. The diffusion of innovation theory points to

5 key elements that determine the overall success of an innovation.

  1. The innovation must provide an advantage over a current product or service such as social recognition, convenience, or technical superiority.
  2. The level of complexity plays an important part in determining whether consumers will adopt a new product or service. Typically, less skill needed to use a product, the quicker consumers will adopt it.
  3. The innovation must align with consumers’ current morals and necessities. For example, some cultures may reject certain medical tools/procedures on religious grounds.
  4. The ability to try a product before buying or seeing the result from other buyers also increases the likelihood of a product being adopted.
  5. The easier it is for consumers to see the results of a product or service also increases the likelihood of adoption.
The diffusion innovation theory categorizes consumers into 5 categories:

Innovators – They spend most of their time developing, creating, and engaging in innovative technology.

Early adopters – Desire to become trendsetters. They are always monitoring new innovations. They usually adopt innovations in the beginning phase.

Early majority – They are content with reasonable technical progression. They typically will not adopt a product or service without solid proof of success.

Late majority – They are skeptical about adopting new innovations, but typically adopt later in the product life cycle in an attempt to “fit in” with society

Laggards – Typically wait until the end of a product life cycle to adopt. They often express great opposition to new innovation and ideas due to the high risk associated with adopting a particular product or service.

If you are still reading, you may be wondering..how should I use the diffusion of innovation theory?

By identifying which of the various consumer categories concentrates your target demographic, you should be able to implement targeted strategies to combat objections or appeal to the desires of the 5 categories mentioned above. The initial information regarding a product is delivered mainly from mass media platforms, but once the majority of consumers adopt a new product or innovation the product becomes “common”. Once a product becomes common, consumers will rely mainly on peer-to-peer recommendations. This is why social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogs can have such an influential effect on a successful strategic marketing communication campaign.Case in point, word-of-mouth can make or break a business. In the past, the bulk of trusted business referrals would come mainly from friends, family, and co-workers. In the days before social media, negative company experiences might have remained within an individual’s circle of friends; now, stories of bad customer service and disappointing products can run quickly through social media networks. Peer-to-peer communication with early adopters is a great way to obtain product feedback on how to improve pricing, efficiency, and overall experience. Once a product reaches the masses, the new innovation will maintain itself. Due to the fact they are considered experts or tech savvy elites, innovators and early adopters are the driving force behind getting a product or idea to the masses.

The diffusion innovation theory should be a foundational component for every organization’s strategic marketing and communication plan for a new product or idea!

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