Innovators are the worst sufferers due to Innovation diffusion failures. Irrespective of the greatness of ideas, the success of innovations depends on their diffusion. Innovation diffusion refers to how ideas, innovative products, or technology spread. Notably, how High-tech innovations succeed in the globally connected competitive market and diffuse through different adopter segments is of great interest. In addition to technology challenges, high-tech innovation marketing suffers from diffusion myths due to the absence of sound theory.
High-tech innovation marketing refers to the process of identifying customers and creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging high-tech goods and services. By the way, high-tech innovation refers to those products that appear in primitive form around emerging technology cores. They often reinvent existing mature products due to the change of technology cores. Besides, new entrants or Startups invariably pursue high-tech innovations to replace matured products of proven suppliers.
Unlike many other innovations, the lifecycle of high-tech innovations is dynamic. Despite primitive emergence, their quality keeps improving due to the advancement of technology, making them increasingly suitable and more reliable in Getting jobs done for a growing number of customers. Surprisingly, along with quality advancement, their cost keeps falling due to a flow of material, energy, time, and waste-saving ideas.
Innovation diffusion myths refer to misconceptions or false assumptions about how high-tech innovations spread within a society due to competitive market forces. These myths confuse innovators’ minds about how different adopter groups respond to high-tech innovations. As a result, they suffer from the lack of effective implementation of new ideas, technologies, or practices that resonate with adoption decisions by customers. Let’s look into ten myths that create confusion in high-tech innovation marketing.
The first group of adopters are innovators or “techies” because they like building new things
Based on the knowledge about why a small group of farmers were the lead adopters of new hybrid seed, there is a belief that people who have in-depth knowledge and who have the competence and aptitude to enjoy the trial-and-error process of getting a new product up and running are the first group of adopters. According to Rogers’s Innovation Diffusion theory, they belong to the innovator segment of adopter groups. Despite its merits in hybrid seed adoption, such characterization appears to be a significant cause of errors in finding customers for high-tech products in the early stages of their life cycles. Let’s look into a few examples.
Motorola’s Dynatec appears to be the first mobile phone handset released for mass adoption by civilians. Who were the customers of this 3lb machine, costing $3995? Were technicians or engineers among the first to adopt them? Surprisingly, no. Instead, busy corporate executives, mostly with no technology trila and error background, found that heavy and expensive machine handsets such as car phones are better than no means of communication while commuting. Similarly, hotels and restaurants found expensive 750-pound microwave ovens, costing $ 5,000 in 1947, an economically attractive option for quick food heating. Similarly, kids found initial digital or mobile phone cameras fun devices for taking pictures, seeing them instantly, and erasing them at no extra cost.
Hence, characterizing the first group of customers of high-tech innovations based on personal attributes and the ability to endure a trial-error process appears highly erroneous. Instead, the focus should be on finding potential customers who would find unique characteristics of high-tech innovations to get their jobs done, which they cannot perform with existing products. Prof. Clayton articulated them as a non-consumption group.
The product must be evolutionary, not revolutionary
Are LED light bulbs, digital cameras, Autonomous vehicles, video streaming, and eBook evolutionary or revolutionary products? High-tech innovations emerge as both incremental advancement and reinvention. For Incremental innovation, such a belief has merit. But what about the reinvention of mature products by changing older technology with an emerging high-technology core? In retrospect, consumers perceive high-tech products as revolutionary, unleashing creative destruction to incrementally progressing matured products.
The product must enhance the system the buyer has now, not overthrow it
High-tech innovations have a natural tendency to overthrow existing systems. For example, digital cameras overthrew film processing and photo printing. Similarly, e-mail overthrew postal services. There have been numerous such examples.
The product must improve an existing operation, not change it
Perhaps it refers to the incremental advancement of a current operation. However, high-tech innovations like online payment or digital banking naturally tend to change or make current operations irrelevant.
Product offering must be a complete, low-risk solution
High-tech innovations begin the journey in an incomplete form. The evolution leads to completeness. For example, digital cameras emerged in the 1980s without digital photo archiving and sharing platforms. They have arisen through evolution.
Buyer must not be required to fine-tune or troubleshoot the product
Yes, that makes sense. However, often, customers buy high-tech innovations with some bugs due to their unique advantages. For example, Microsoft Word and Windows had bugs. Despite this, customers loved them, making Bill Gates the wealthiest person in the world.
The product must work adequately and integrate easily with their existing infrastructure
Contrary to such advice, high-tech products naturally tend not to work with existing infrastructure. For example, electric vehicles demand new charging infrastructure. Similarly, smartphones required upgrading of mobile communication networks.
Product or system must be purchased from a market leader
New entrants or startups often roll out high-tech innovations—unleashing a creative wave of destruction and Disruptive innovation effects. Starting from personal computers to Electric vehicles, there have been numerous examples. Consumers naturally tend to switch from proven, matured products of market leaders to unproven products of new entrants.
Vendor must provide references and/or referrals from an identical type of customer
For high-tech products, such references do not exist. The strength of high-tech products has been a unique way of serving purposes that no existing products can do.
Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM
This appears to be a recipe for suffering from disruptive innovation effects. Perhaps nobody ever got fired for IBM or matured products from proven suppliers; why have customers switched from proven products of those reputed firms to unproven high-tech products from unverified suppliers? Contrary to such a myth, customers naturally tend to buy unproven high-tech products from startups. They move from matured products to proven suppliers due to unique features.
All this advice given by marketing gurus appears to contradict the natural characteristics of high-tech innovation diffusion. Hence, these beliefs about the diffusion of high-tech innovation appear to be myths. These myths are sufficiently strong to derail high-tech marketing efforts. Hence, it’s time to get rid of such myths in pursuing high-tech innovation marketing.