Introducing new technology
through public relations on the Web

Technology marketing models

The Internet—introduction Using the Internet effectively Print media use study
Making Web pages better Technology marketing models Conclusions


Technology Adoption Life Cycle Model

As technology becomes more and more a part of everyday life, ways of thinking about it change. Computer literate people are no longer few and far between; they are no longer only programmers or mathematicians. They sit at desks all across the cityscape of corporate America—and, indeed, all across the world—working on PCs and laptops, heating their lunches in microwave ovens and driving gasoline-powered automobiles. They clean their silverware in a dishwasher, listen to compact disks, and watch movies on videocassette recorders. They use technological advances without even thinking about it. Most people take all this for granted. Advances in technology have happened so frequently within the last few decades that people have become more used to new items on the market.

In the 1950s and ‘60s, social scientists researched the behavior patterns of communities when they were introduced to "’discontinuous innovations,’ new products or services that force people to change their past behavior" 14. From these studies, the Technology Adoption Life Cycle was developed. The model separated people into five consumer classes, each one defined by a different set of values and acceptance.

The first group the model identified were the "innovators." These people were technology enthusiasts who were eager to embrace new products and services that may have the potential to improve their lives. Although innovators usually did not have the money to purchase these items, they were the first to express interest in new technologies and new ideas. They were also likely to have the power to influence others—especially those who did have the money to make major purchases—to adopt the technology 15.

"Early adopters" were the second type of person described in the Technology Adoption Life Cycle. They were heralded as "visionaries within the business and government community who look to innovation to give them significant competitive advantage" 16. Unlike innovators, they had the money to purchase the technologically advanced products or services, but they were more practical and more demanding than the previous group. They often wanted the product customized to meet their specific needs; however, they were willing to pay for these alterations.

Most consumers in this model fit into the category of the "early majority." This category accounted for most technology purchases. Members of this category were found to be interested in new products not for the technology they represented, but for the value the products could bring to their own lives. The study found these people "believed in evolution rather than revolution" 17.

The fourth category in the study was labeled the "late majority." People in the late majority slot were "conservatives who were inherently pessimistic about their ability to gain advantage from technology and made purchases only when it became apparent that they were in danger of being left behind" 18. In addition, they were very concerned about price, and extremely demanding about the quality and serviceability of the product.

The fifth group was labeled as "laggards"; they were skeptical of technology and were more likely to criticize it than to purchase it. The study pointed out that "although they are difficult to sell to, they cannot be completely ignored, because there is always the danger that their skepticism will infect the majority" 19.

New model for technology marketing

The Technology Adoption Life Cycle Model no longer holds true for consumers in the 1990s. Pawluk pointed out: "While it may have had some validity in the slower-paced 1960's, it's virtually irrelevant in today's fast-paced high technology markets. Today, sales don't taper off, they just die" 20. People in this decade are inundated with new innovations—many of which are designed to compete with one another. Convincing people to buy new types of products can be difficult. Domeshek wrote: "You’ll face this challenge: People don’t even know they have a problem, much less that it can be solved by something they should pay money for" (1993, p.9) 21. In today’s market, technological product adoption has taken on an entirely new dimension.

In "Tech Marketing Comes of Age," an article in Reputation Management, this new model is explained:

In the early market, a holdover from the old Technology Adoption Life Cycle, companies are marketing their products almost exclusively to visionaries and technology enthusiasts. The chasm is the point at which the early market’s interest wanes and the mainstream market is not yet comfortable with the new product, and it is best crossed by marketing in the bowling alley—by selecting niches within the mainstream market, customizing the product to meet the requirements of a particular niche, and then advancing niche by niche to widespread acceptance. When enough bowling pins have been knocked down, the tornado begins. In the tornado, which is marked by suddenly overheated demand, companies must forget the customer focus that helped them in the bowling alley and concentrate on shipping enough product to meet demand. The companies that survive the tornado find themselves on Main Street, refining the product and marketing it to a mass consumer audience. 22
The market of the 1990s is indeed carved into niches, and companies concern themselves with pleasing the people within the niches they want to dominate. In the above model, Main Street can be viewed as Wall Street—only the most successful companies can have their stocks traded in the famous market. Hi-tech corporations—especially computer hardware and software manufacturers—have moved to Main Street through this model. In today’s technologically advanced world, success does not happen all at once, but in bits and pieces.


The Internet—introduction | Using the Internet effectively | Print media use study
Making Web pages better | Technology marketing models | Conclusions