Adopter Categories

As marketers, we all know the importance of understanding our target market. One of the most effective ways to do this is by identifying the different adopter categories that make up our customer base. Adopter categories are groups of people who share similar characteristics in terms of their willingness to embrace new products or technologies. In this post, we'll dive into the six most popular questions about adopter categories and how they can help inform your marketing strategy.

What are adopter categories?

Adopter categories are a way of classifying consumers based on their willingness to try new products or technologies. The categories were first identified by Everett Rogers in his book "Diffusion of Innovations" and have since become a foundational concept in marketing. The five adopter categories are: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards.

How can I identify which adopter category my customers fall into?

One way to identify which adopter category your customers fall into is by conducting market research. You can use surveys or focus groups to ask questions about their attitudes towards new products or technologies. You can also analyze your sales data to see which customers are buying your products early on versus later in the product lifecycle.

Why is it important to know which adopter category my customers fall into?

Knowing which adopter category your customers fall into can help you tailor your marketing strategy to better reach them. For example, if you know that a large portion of your customer base is made up of early adopters, you might focus more on digital marketing tactics like social media advertising or influencer partnerships. If you have a lot of laggards in your customer base, you might need to focus more on traditional advertising methods like TV commercials or direct mail.

How do I market to each adopter category?

Each adopter category has different needs and motivations when it comes to trying new products or technologies. Innovators and early adopters tend to be more tech-savvy and interested in cutting-edge solutions, so digital marketing tactics can be effective here. The early majority is more risk-averse and needs to see proof that a new product is reliable and provides tangible benefits. The late majority and laggards are even more cautious and may need more hand-holding or reassurance before they're willing to try something new.

Can adopter categories change over time?

Yes, adopter categories can change over time as people become more or less open to trying new things. For example, someone who was once an early adopter may become a late majority if they've had a bad experience with a new product or if they feel like they've been burned by hype in the past. It's important to stay attuned to these shifts in your customer base and adjust your marketing strategy accordingly.

Is it possible to target multiple adopter categories at once?

Yes, it is possible to target multiple adopter categories at once, but you'll need to be careful not to dilute your messaging too much. One approach is to focus on the early adopters first, since they're the most likely to spread the word about your product to others. Once you've established a foothold with the early adopters, you can start expanding your marketing efforts to reach the early majority and beyond.

Adopter categories are an essential tool for understanding your target market and tailoring your marketing strategy accordingly. Whether you're focused on digital marketing, content marketing, advertising, email marketing, or some combination thereof, knowing which adopter categories are most prevalent in your customer base can help you maximize your ROI and drive long-term success.


  1. Rogers, E.M. (2003). Diffusion of Innovations (5th ed.). New York: Free Press.
  2. Godin, S. (2002). Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable. New York: Portfolio.
  3. Kotler, P., Kartajaya, H., & Setiawan, I. (2016). Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
  4. McLeod, S. (2021). The Science of Marketing: When to Tweet, What to Post, How to Blog, and Other Proven Strategies. New York: Pearson.
  5. Kim, W.C., & Mauborgne, R.A. (2005). Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.
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