The Technology Adoption Lifecycle and the Principle of Disruptive Innovation share at least two fundamental attributes. First, both models describe market development in terms of the changing nature of the user rather than the product. Using similar terminology, both suggest that products are initially used by early customers who base their purchase decisions primarily on the product’s functionality. Then, once the demand for functionality has been met, vendors must begin to address the need for reliability that is demanded by an initial wave of mainstream buyers. A third phase of growth occurs when market followers and conservatives require that vendors meet their needs for convenience. The final group is mostly concerned with price.
Another shared attribute is, despite a track record of proven success, both models are counterintuitive to most business managers. When struggling for survival, a solar organization will find it incongruous to focus on the peculiar or specialized needs of a small group of potential buyers, before addressing the more common needs of larger groups. Too often managers attempt to serve an entire market all at once, and unintentionally delay the market transformation process.
The inescapable task of winning over a sequence of buyer types, combined with the necessity of promoting intangible benefits tailored to the user’s point-of-view, form the cornerstones of market transformation. These principles have repeatedly guided new products and companies to the achievement of mainstream market acceptance and commercial success. Much of the history and experience behind these models can be translated into helpful guidance for the solar industry.
Product Adoption Fundamentals