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Encourage Customers to Buy Innovation

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on January 18, 2011

Pioneering products and trendy clothing fashions usually carry higher profit margins than older versions. To sell innovative items, appeal to distinctive purchase triggers.

Venturesome innovators say, "I want the latest features, even if all the problems with the item haven’t been worked out yet." Show venturesome innovators the most surprising things about the product. Based on research at Iowa State University, consumer behavior experts estimate that, across all sorts of product categories, about 3 percent of shoppers are venturesome innovators. Some product types will attract greater numbers of venturesome innovators, so you’ll want to assess what the percentage distribution is for your business.

Respectable early adapters (13 percent) say, "I want a taste of where the world is heading." Explain to these shoppers the ways in which the item is an example of what the future holds.

The deliberative early majority (34 percent) says, "I’ll buy the item after it’s proven to reliably meet my needs." Tell this group about the good reputation of your business and of the product’s designers and brand name.

The skeptical late majority (34 percent) says, "Let lots of other people use it for a while before I buy." With the skeptical late majority, your best bet is to emphasize your guarantee of satisfaction. Encourage this category of shopper to try using the product with your offer to accept the item back for a refund or credit if the shopper ends up not liking the item.

Tradition-bound laggards (16 percent) avoid innovations. You probably won’t be able to convince them to purchase the new, trendy version until the older version is no longer available. However, by listening to their reasons and line of reasoning for rejecting the innovation, you might pick up some ideas for selling to the other four groups.

With the first three of these five types of consumers, appeal to the prestige trigger. Decades ago the Iowa State University researchers asked why certain farmers were purchasing innovative technologies while other farmers had not. This was in circumstances where the innovations were notably expensive and in limited supply when first made available. The answer was that if the farmer could spare the funds, the fact that the innovation cost lots of money was actually attractive. It gave the farmer the right to brag about having the latest and greatest before others could get it.

Bruce D. Sanders
Consulting Psychologist
Vacaville, Calif.

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