Adopter categories refer to the five identifiable subgroups within a population that begins use of an innovation, according to the sequence of their adoption of the product or service.
The numbers are percentages of the total number of actual adopters, not of the total adopter categories (the number of persons or firms in the marketplace).
There is wide disagreement on the exact portion in each category.
- Innovators (the first 2 – 5 percent) are the first to adopt a new product that has been introduced into the marketplace. Innovators are venturesome and are often thought to be opinion leaders. They are interested in anything new, and are quick to adopt new and innovative products. Note: An innovator in a given category or a related set of categories may not be an innovator in all categories.
- Early adopters (the next 10 – 15 percent) follow innovators and precede the early majority. Their role is to be opinion leaders and have influence over the early majority. They pay attention to what the innovators have discovered and find a practical use for the innovation. They then communicate to their followers the usefulness of the new product.
- Early majority (the next 35 percent) is preceded by early adopters and innovators. The early majority like to await the outcome of product trial by the two earlier groups, yet are not as slow to adopt as the next two groups, late majority and laggards. The early majority carefully observe the early adopters, but wait to adopt innovative products until they are sure they will get value from them.
- Late majority (the next 35 percent) is the fourth group of users to adopt an innovation. Skeptics, the late majority wait until an innovation has been accepted by a majority of consumers and the price has dropped to adopt the new product.
- Laggards (the final 5 – 10 percent) are the fifth, and last, group of users to adopt an innovation. Traditionalists, laggards are content with what they have, and they adopt new products unenthusiastically and only because they feel as if they have to.