This is a bell-shaped curve divided into five sections that depict the rate of adoption of innovation by different categories of users over time. The rate of adoption is the relative speed with which innovation, that is, an idea, technology or behavior, is adopted by people in society.

It is measured by the number of individuals that are adopting the innovation over a specified period. Different categories of people take different time spans to adopt innovations. These categories are listed as follows:

  • Innovators – They are the first to adopt new technology. They are risk takers and the initiators of change.
  • Early adopters – They are the opinion shapers and leaders in the society. They have more resources and leap onto innovations as soon as the innovators have implemented the innovations.
  • Early Majority – They are the more careful users and will adopt ideas once there is evidence of benefit. They tend to be cost sensitive.
  • Late Majority – This group is more conservative and skeptic. They tend to use innovations only when the majority is using them or from peer pressure.
  • Laggards – They are very conservative and reluctant to change. They only adopt an idea once it is mainstream or has become traditional and sometimes even obsolete.

In the early stages of the launch of the innovation, it is embraced by the innovators and early adopters whose keen interest is the technology and performance.

However, as time moves on and other participants in the society are involved, the innovation must shift focus from just the technology to offering solutions and convenience. The latter are the needs and thus motivations of the early majority, late majority, and laggards in adopting technology.

Factors affecting the gradient of the innovation adoption curve

  • Attributes of innovations as perceived by users: This includes the comparative advantage of the innovation over other existing or preceding it, the compatibility of the innovation with the norms, culture and behavior prevalent in society, the complexity or ease of use of the innovation, the possibility of experimentation with the innovation, and the observability of benefits accruing from the utilization of the innovation.
  • The type of Innovation-decision: The way the members of society decide for or against the adoption of the new idea or technology will also affect the rate at which the innovation is accepted and adopted. In general, the fewer the people involved in the innovation-decision, the faster the rate of adoption will be.
  • Communication Model: The type of channel used to create awareness for the innovation is also a factor. The channel should be appropriate and efficient for a faster adoption rate and thus steeper gradient.
  • Nature of the social systems: This refers to the norms in the system and the communication structures or interconnectedness of the society.
  • Change agents’ promotional efforts: This varies across the curve, and the greatest effect would be when an opinion leader responds to the efforts.

The Chasm

This is a significant aspect in the curve which marks the radical change in the consumer’s demands of the innovation, as a result of the entrance of the latter users into the adoption curve.

The shift is the change from an emphasis on technology to efficiency and convenience. Therefore, for the innovation to fully exploit and capture the market share, it must also dynamically change to suit the needs of all the users.