Types and Categories of Adopters and How to Get Them to Adopt Your Product

Types and Categories of Adopters and How to Get Them to Adopt Your Product cover

What are the main categories of adopters? What are the key differences in how they adopt products? Which of them are most useful for product managers of early products?

These are just a few of the questions we’re answering in the article.

Let’s dive in, shall we?


  • The adopter categories divide consumers into groups depending on their readiness to use new products or innovations.
  • Innovators (2.5%) are the first ones to try new products because new ideas and technologies are an important part of their lives.
  • Innovators take risks and engage with products that aren’t complete but they rarely commit their money or time to any of them over the long term.
  • Early adopters (13.5%) are also keen to experiment with new ideas or products because they want to be a part of the change that is taking place.
  • This category of adopters wants to protect their social status, so they’re more cautious to support products.
  • To adopt a product, the early majority (34%) need proof that the new product or service will satisfy their needs and will make their jobs easier to complete.
  • The late majority (34%) are even more careful and won’t adopt new products until you convince them of the benefits.
  • The best way to convert the late majority is by showing how the product benefits apply to their circumstances.
  • Laggards (16%) avoid change and adopt new solutions only when they have no choice.
  • Of the five categories of adopters, innovators and early adopters are particularly useful for new products.
  • They are happy to test the product and provide feedback. Moreover, they can promote the product in their social circles and improve the reputation of the brand.
  • Product Hunt, social media, and web forums are good channels to engage early adopters.
  • Listening to their feedback and acting on it increases their engagement and loyalty.
  • In-app guidance helps early adopters discover the value of products you’re building faster.
  • Keeping them informed and giving early access to new features, will maintain their interest and engagement.
  • Wondering how Userpilot can help you boost adoption? Book a demo!

What are the five types and categories of adopters?

Have you ever heard of the technology adoption curve? In short, it’s a model that distinguishes five categories of adopters.

  1. Innovators
  2. Early adopters
  3. The early majority
  4. The late majority
  5. Laggards

The classification is based on how quickly they adopt innovations. The theory is used in product management, but innovations don’t necessarily need to be products. In fact, the model applies to change in general.

Five categories of adopters
Five categories of adopters.

What are innovators?

Innovators are the first category to adopt products and they make up about 2.5% of users.

Technology and innovation play an important role in their lives. That’s why they’re always on the lookout for new products or new ideas to try. They simply get a kick out of the quest for new tools, software, gadgets, or ways of doing things.

What are early adopters?

Early adopters are a slightly larger category. They amount to about 13.5% of users.

In many ways, they are very similar to innovators. Just like them, they are fascinated by new products, and experimenting gives them a lot of excitement. They also have the financial resources to fuel their geekiness.

What is the early majority?

The early majority category is one of the two largest categories of adopters. They make up about a third of all users.

The early majority are much more pragmatic than the previous two categories. Their main motivation is to find better solutions to their problems so that they can solve them more easily, quickly, or cheaply.

What is the late majority?

The late majority is another big category of adopters as they constitute about 34% of the user population.

They are even more cautious about innovations and as a result, they need much more time to convert. They also need a very good reason for that.

What are laggards?

Laggards are the last category on the adoption curve.

They are not tech-savvy at all. On the contrary, they tend to be very skeptical about novelties, and if they can, they avoid them at all costs.

At 16% of the consumer population, they are not the largest group but still too big to ignore.

How do the five adopter categories impact the product adoption curve

Now that we know what the main categories of adopters are, let’s look at the differences in how they adopt new products.

Innovators and product adoption choices

Innovators are happy to try new products for their own sake.

They are risk-takers, so they are happy to experiment with products that are not tested because it’s fun.

They don’t get discouraged by bugs, missing features, or patchy UI as long as they have a chance to use the product before everybody else.

Failure is fine for innovators. They find a product and just give it a crack. If it works, that’s cool, if not, that’s no problem at all.

That’s partly because they don’t invest much into the process. They are unlikely to pay for the product, not a premium price anyway.

Innovators are also difficult to retain as they don’t hang around and move from one product to another quickly. Given that’s a very small group, you’re not going to make much money out of them. However, they make up for it in other ways.

Early adopters and product adoption choices

Early adopters tend to focus on technological novelties and their performance, just like innovators.

If there’s a conversation going on about an idea, a trend, or a new product, they need to be a part of it. And to be able to do that, they are ready to spend their money.

However, they don’t take as many risks as innovators. They won’t support a product until they are sure it works.

That’s because they are more concerned about their reputation and position as opinion leaders, and won’t put it at risk for just any product.

Early majority and product adoption choices

The early majority adopt an innovation only when it serves a specific purpose and delivers value.

Unlike innovators or early adopters, they won’t switch to a product or an idea just because it’s trendy.

They need solid evidence that it’s going to satisfy their expectations and needs better than the current tool or gadget.

They also want to avoid disruption to their processes, so they are way more cautious than early adopters.

That’s why they do their homework before they embrace a new product.

This means reading reviews, searching out real-life user stories, or trialing the product. Only then will they be ready to commit and spend their money.

The gap between the early majority and the previous two categories of adopters in terms of how readily they adopt new products is huge. Geoffrey A. Moore, an American author, called it the chasm.

Crossing the chasm is a defining moment for products because they can’t be successful if they don’t manage to win over the early majority.

Late majority and product adoption choices

The late majority adopters are more risk-averse than any of the previous groups, so they need even more evidence that the product delivers on its value proposition.

That’s why they take much longer to adopt new products than innovators, early adopters, or the early majority.

The best way to convince them of new ideas is to highlight how they can benefit them.

Avoid generic statements and focus on the advantages for their specific use cases. Use live demos to show how your product can save them money and time.

Laggards and product adoption choices

If they could, laggards would never choose to adopt new products or ideas. They are just fine with whatever products they are using at the moment.

However, very often the choices are made for them and they are forced to adapt. For instance, the product they’ve been using may not be available anymore.

Take banking as an example.

Brick-and-mortar bank branches are closing everywhere and it won’t be long before mobile and web apps will be the only ways to bank. This will leave laggards no option but to adopt.

However, you can still do a lot to tap into this seemingly impregnable section of the market. First, try to win their trust with online reviews and testimonials.

Afterward, focus on support. Self-service or pre-recorded tutorials won’t cut it though. Instead, you will need a lot of individual support and patience to convert this category of adopters.

Why targeting early adopters can benefit your product launch?

Let’s look into some practical benefits of targetting the first two categories of adopters – innovators and early adopters.

Innovators and early adopters will provide relevant feedback

Innovators and early adopters are great sources of quality feedback that will help you grow your product.

First, users from the two categories of adopters tend to be extremely knowledgeable about your product niche. That’s why their insights can be particularly valuable.

As we mentioned, they also share a passion for new products, so they will be very keen to invest their time to thoroughly test your product.

Finally, they want to feel heard and make a difference. This means they’re more likely to take part in surveys or become beta testers than other user categories.

What’s the best way to ask them for feedback?

As they’re active users, ask them for feedback directly in-app. Use a tool like Userpilot to create microsurveys. Make sure to include qualitative questions to get a deeper understanding of how they feel about the product.

Feedback survey in Userpilot
Feedback survey in Userpilot.

Early adopters can boost the reputation of the brand and product

Innovators and early adopters tend to be thought leaders and influencers. They work hard to grow their reputation as subject-matter experts in their fields and use every opportunity to confirm it.

That’s why they are very vocal on social media and willing to review products.

As a result, if your product is good enough, they will help you increase your brand and product reputation.

Innovators and early adopters have a better average social status

Innovators and early adopters are the kind of people we turn to when we need advice on new products and solutions.

Because they are so influential in their social circles, winning them over will help you harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing to promote your product.

How to attract and keep innovators and early adopters

What are the best ways to attract early adopters? Let’s check out a few proven methods to get them on board.

Launch your product on the right channels

To attract innovators and early adopters, you need to choose the right channels.

Product Hunt is one of the places where many of them hang around, which makes it a fantastic place to launch your product.

The tech-orientated Product Hunt users are a great source of feedback and reviews. It is also a good platform to recruit beta testers.

If you manage to get the Product Hunt launch right, you will create a lot of healthy attention around your product and send it on an upward growth trajectory.

Apart from Product Hunt, you can find innovators in social media groups and on web forums.

Listen to their feedback and close the loop

Listening to their feedback and acting on it is the best way to keep early adopters engaged.

By closing the feedback loop, you show them that their opinions matter and make them feel relevant.

Surveys and interviews are great ways to pick their brains but sometimes the best ideas come when we least expect them. That’s why give your users a chance to provide feedback whenever they want. In-app passive feedback surveys allow exactly that.

Take Slack for example. They make it easy to give feedback directly in-app.

Slack makes it super easy to give feedback
Slack makes it super easy to give feedback.

Once the user types /feedback, Slack opens the feedback side panel when you type /feedback directly into the message box.

Feedback form in Slack
Feedback form in Slack.

Help them to experience value fast and frictionless

To hook innovators and early adopters, you need to make them experience the Aha moment as quickly as you can. If your product is too complex to use, they won’t bother.

The catch is that the user experience in your MVP won’t be as frictionless as you would like it to be.

To overcome it, provide quality support and in-app guidance. Small tooltips and hotspots can remove the friction and flatten the learning curve.

Tooltips can help early adopters reach activation
Tooltips can help early adopters reach activation.

The two categories of adopters often prefer to access help in-app instead of contacting customer support, so on-demand access to support and guides is a must. A solid self-service resource center will cover that need.

A resource center can improve adoption
A resource center can improve adoption. Build one with Userpilot today!

This will buy you the time needed to tweak the UI to make it more user-friendly for the wider customer base.

Let them be the first to know

To make your early adopters feel special, make sure to keep them up to date with all the changes, both good and bad.

The Slack in-app banner announcing the new pricing structure is a good example. It informs the users of the change and encourages them to take action before the change happens.

Slack keeps the early adopters informed about pricing changes.
Slack keeps the early adopters informed about pricing changes.


Understanding the differences between different categories of adopters can help product managers plan their product launches and drive adoption once the product is available.

Would you like to know how Userpilot can help you engage different adopter categories? Book the demo!

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