The consumer adoption process is constant. Marketing tools may change, the way consumers discover products may change, and consumer behaviors may change, but the 5 stages that make up the consumer adoption process will always remain the same.
In my years of business, my days in business school, and my experience at WeLink and AT&T, I have learned about numerous companies and how they market their products. I have witnessed many failures and witness many successes. What is interesting to me is how important it is for businesses to truly understand the 5 stages of the consumer adoption process and the important role this process plays to the success of the business. The 5 stages are: product awareness, product interest, product evaluation, product trial, and product adoption. Companies work hard to create a product, but in order to sustain and succeed in the market, organizations also need to create a process that successfully walks their consumers through the stages of the consumer adoption process.
5 Stages to the Consumer Adoption Process
Stage 1 - Product Awareness
This first stage is about creating awareness that your product is in the market. It is important that your company develops a successful avenue for your consumers to become aware of your product. If consumers do not know your product exists, than it might as well not exist! Create marketing material. These can be one-sheets, video teasers, images, and landing pages. Make these marketing materials easily accessible. Utilizing creativity and wit is a great way to engage consumers in this awareness stage. I recommend creating a strong social presence for said product. In the era of social media, many tools are available in the market that provide companies with the techniques and methods to increase product awareness through social channels – enabling them to reach a large number of customers at a low cost!
Case Example – Movie Teasers and Tesla Model D
As an example, movie teasers are designed to inform the audience and customers that a movie will be released soon, but it doesn’t provide them in-depth information about the movie. Another great example includes Tesla’s Model D. Prior to its launch and release, Elon Musk published the below image on his Twitter in order to build momentum and awareness of their upcoming launch. What’s amazing about this picture is the way it has been strategically designed to make consumers aware of the product without exposing too much about the product. The viewer is left wanting to learn more.
Stage 2 - Product Interest
In this stage consumers are ready to learn more about your companies product and / or service. Your organization must guide the consumer through the interest stage by providing easily accessible information on your product. Among the methods used in the todays business landscape include a website describing the product, blog posts, tutorial or instructional videos, white papers, and other sources of info that the potential consumer can discover and review.
Case Example – Apple
Apple utilizes its product launch to provide information and insight into its latest product. With well-designed and organized speech, scripted presentation, and balanced use of technical and non-technical vocabulary, Apple delivers information eloquently and successfully to broad range of customers. With the information now available in multiple mediums and comprehensible by both technical and non-technical individuals, Apple gains the interest of their potential customers and builds strong momentum of interested buyers.
Stage 3 - Product Evaluation
Prior to purchasing, consumers examine, compare and evaluate the product. Such behavior increases in intensity and need once the item in question is more expensive, sophisticated and complex, or critical. Consumers are searching for information. We are now finding that consumers go online and utilize social media channels to ask other individuals about your product or service. In addition, they find online reviews and recommendations. In order to simplify a customer’s search and evaluation of your product, I suggest creating information that outlines the difference between your product and other similar products, or differences within the different products and services you sell. Outline what separates your product from others, and emphasize on strength. Another great system to utilize is the webinar. This platform allow you to communicate with potential customer in depth information about your product and provides time for Q&A.
Case Example – PCMag
PCMag is a world-renowned website for comparing gadgets and computers. They are notable for their reliable reporting, comprehensive evaluation editorials, and categorization of different gadgets based on their qualities. For example, in order to maintain fairness, PCMag categorizes laptops differently (such as work laptop, ultra-notebooks, …etc) in order to provide a more reasonable evaluation that fits the needs of the customer. PCMag is a great tool for consumers to evaluate products. Product manufactures can contact PCMag and request to get their products included in the magazine.
Stage 4 - Product Trial
This is the stage where the consumer “kicks the tires”. Nothing helps a consumer make a decision about your product more than actually trying your product out! There are many ways this is accomplished. For example, your company can provide your consumer with a free trial or a proof of concept campaign. In this stage it is very important to set the customer expectations correctly and deliver on said expectations.
Case Example – Costco
Costco is known for their free samples. I have heard that some customers piecemeal an entire lunch just from bouncing around the free sample tables during a visit to a Costco location. This “free sample" approach is very smart. In some cases Costco has seen this strategy increase sales of a product over 1000 percent. There are additional psychological effects from this, which include consumer loyalty and consumer reciprocity. Consumers feel that if they receive something for free they owe something in return.
Stage 5 - Product Adoption
When the consumer enters the product adoption phase, he/she is ready to purchase your companies product. This is the critical stage that businesses need to get their consumers to. When the customer is here, you need to make the payment process simple, intuitive, and pain free. In addition, you need to ensure that the consumer can easily obtain the product. If you make it to and through this last phase successfully, than you can take money to the bank - A job well done!
Consumer Adoption Process is for All!
Whether you have a new business or an existing business, a product built for the enterprise or a product built for a consumer; the consumer adoption process is the same. It is important to create a strategy and the necessary tools to successfully take your consumers through these 5 stages. If you can nail this, than you are in business. Last piece of advice; Marketing your product is as important, if not more important, than creating your product.