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Buying - Customers and Buying New Products

Author: Jim Riley  Last updated: Sunday 23 September, 2012

Customer buying process for new products

How do customers approach the process of buying a new product? How does this differ from the process for buying a product which the customer has bought before? What is meant by a “new product”?

A new product can be defined as:

"A good, service or idea that is “perceived” by some potential customers as new. It may have been available for some time, but many potential customers have not yet adopted the product nor decided to become a regular user of the product"

Research suggests that customers go through five stages in the process of adopting a new product or service: these are summarised below:

(1) Awareness - the customer becomes aware of the new product, but lacks information about it

(2) Interest - the customer seeks information about the new product

(3) Evaluation - the customer considers whether trying the new product makes sense

(4) Trial - the customer tries the new product on a limited or small scale to assess the value of the product

(5) Adoption - the customer decides to make full and/or regular use of the new product

What is the role of marketing in the process of new-product adoption?

A marketing team looking to successfully introduce a new product or service should think about how to help customers move through the five stages.

For example, what kind of advertising or other promotional campaign can be employed to build customer awareness? If customers show a desire to trial or sample a product, how can this be arranged effectively?

Research also suggests that customers can be divided into groups according to the speed with which they adopt new products.

Rogers, in his influential work on the diffusion of innovations, suggested the following classification:

Customer adoption of new products

The “innovators” (those who adopt new products first) are usually relatively young, lively, intelligent, socially and geographically mobile. They are often of a high socioeconomic group (“AB’s”). Conversely, the “laggards” (those who adopt last, if at all) tend to be older, less intelligent, less well-off and lower on the socioeconomic scale.

It follows from the above model that when a business launches a new product or service, the customers who buy first are likely to be significantly different from those who buy the product much later. This needs to be borne in mind when developing the marketing mix.

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