The technology adoption lifecycle is a sociological model that describes the adoption or acceptance of a new product or innovation, according to the psychographic characteristics of defined adopter groups. It is probably the most well established model in high-tech product marketing because it provides useful insight at all stages of market development.
The underlying thesis of TALC is that innovations are absorbed into any given market segment in stages corresponding to psychological and social profiles of people within that user community. The sequence of adoption types goes from the early market which is made up of Innovators and Early Adopters to the mainstream market.
If a new technology or innovation imposes substantial learning or behavior change upon the end user, the transition from the early market to the mainstream is characterized by a gap or a chasm because early adopters and mainstream buyers have very different values.
If on the other hand, the new tech is really just a refinement that requires little or no change on behalf of the end user, then the adoption process is a graceful transition into the mainstream market.
(see analysis by Everett Rogers: It’s Not a Chasm; It’s a Continuum)
Despite a track record of proven success, the Technology Adoption Lifecycle is counterintuitive to most business managers. When struggling for survival, an 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 adoption 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 strategy development. These principles have repeatedly guided high-tech products and companies to the achievement of mainstream market acceptance, public support and commercial success. Much of the history and experience behind the Technology Adoption Lifecycle can be translated into helpful guidance for any type or size of company.