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Early Majority

 

Disciplines > Communication > Diffusion > Early Majority

Description | Example | Selling to the early majority | See also

 

Description

The early majority are the first big segment of people in the diffusion of innovations, making up around 34% of the population.

This group are comparatively slow to adopt ideas, even though they are still within the first 50%, although when they do, they act like a herd, all acting together. They are typically socially aware and do not want to risk rejection by standing out from the crowd. The early adopters are leaders, but the early majority are followers, which can cause a problem of who goes first'.

Even if they see a good idea, they will hold back, approaching it with caution. There is a often a trigger point, a critical mass, before which the early majority person fears losing out if they jump and after which they fear being rejected if they do not jump. When this point is approaching, they watch others very carefully and, when they see enough others adopting the idea, they cast caution to the winds and dive in for fear of being left behind.

With a lower risk bias than the early adopters, they also worry that if they buy something that it will not fit in with the things they already have and could lead to problems if it fails, not the least of which is being derided by others for making such a silly decision. They thus seek market leaders and strong brands who provide a consistent and reliable experience.

The early majority is the first group in which loyalty may be found. When they find something that works, they stick with it and do not easily change. The one thing that will move them on is other people in their segment.

Although they are slow to adopt, they still feel like leaders and indeed, they are in the first 50%.

Example

An IT manager is very cautious about implementing a new software system, even though many users are asking for it. She is particularly concerned that the product still has defects in, will not work with other software and might not be well supported.

A woman wants a ball gown and likes an exotic dress in a shop but ends up choosing a more conservative fashion. At the ball she sees several others wearing new designs and wishes she had bought the exotic dress.

A Buddhist group have been in the country for several years when they seem to reach a critical mass and experience a sharp increase in membership.

The price of houses has going up slowly for a while. Then it suddenly goes up sharply until there is talk of a 'bubble'. Then it turns over and goes down sharply.

Selling to the early majority

As a larger group than the early adopters, the early majority are very attractive to marketers and sales people, and a lot of effort can be put into selling to them with little visible result. In fact 'sky rocket' products that take off and then flop are often the result of getting adoption by the early adopters but not catching on with the early majority.

Opinion leaders in the early majority tend to be cautious, talking about what may appear but casting doubt until they are confident it is safe to act. They judge innovations on reliability and longevity, not just effectiveness.

A real problem with new technology is that the early majority seek the market leader, but when there is no market to lead and hence nobody to follow, they can become paralyzed. The secret is to 'divide and conquer', starting with a small segment where you can more easily coax along the social leaders (and possibly giving away your products to them) and so become market leader.

Then, with case studies under your arm, move to an adjacent segment where the people have some connection with the first segment. After doing this for a while, you will have built up enough of a momentum to pull the rest of the herd along.

When things take off, then you have to change your approach from customized solutions to mass selling. This can take a huge shift in the business model that matches the huge growth in orders. You may well have to move from a specialist sales platform to widespread media advertising and mass marketing.

See also

Theories about groups

Moore, G. (). Crossing the Chasm,

 

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