The Diffusion of Innovations and Some Factors to be Considered

The Importance of Diffusion

When organizations actualize knowledge management systems, they need to consider the ways and means through which the innovations pioneered by them diffuse into the markets and the wider world. This means that organizations have to not only innovate but also consider how these innovations are communicated, implemented, and accepted by consumers and society. Diffusion in this respect refers to the transmission of the innovation through the markets that are intended to be targeted. For diffusion to happen there must be a well thought out plan in place to target the early consumers (known as early adopters) who try out the product or the service and by this consumption help in the initial diffusion. This is the reason why many mega brands like Apple, Nike, Gap, Samsung, and Unilever try out their innovations on test markets where the early adopters are present and by gathering feedback from the early adopters ensure that the brand or the product starts the process of diffusion. Diffusion of innovations can be understood to be the process of transmission through which the marketers and the innovators use the “push” and the “pull” strategy to reach out to the intended markets. For instance, the marketers have to “push” the product into the wider market and once demand is generated, the “pull” factor comes into effect.

Rogers’ Theory of Diffusion and its Application

A useful theoretical framework that is often employed by the marketers is the Rogers’ theory of diffusion of innovations, which holds that the diffusion takes place in a Bell shaped, or an S shaped curve. The initial adopters or the early adopters give way to the early majority who comprise the highest number of consumers relative to the other categories. Once the innovation is in the market, the early adopters and the early majority spread the word about the product to a wider audience, wherein the late majority or those who take to the product after some time is now induced to test the product. Apart from this, Rogers’ also defined a very early category called the innovators who are among the first consumers to try out the product. Of course, most marketers factor in the innovators either because they are testing the product based on them being in the test market or are anyway those who are the first to try out all products. This is the reason Apple initially restricted its release of the Smartphone (iPhone) to a few test markets so that it can gauge the reactions from the consumers. Next, the company ventured into a more open marketing strategy where the early adopters were located. Now that the company has established its presence around the world, it is releasing the latest version simultaneously.

Some Real World Scenarios

Indeed, this diffusion of innovations is followed by the movie industry as well when it launches its new movies in select theaters and based on the audience response, goes in for mega releases. The point here is that diffusion of the innovations happens in fits and starts and reaches a plateau from which it begins to decline. For instance, the personal computer is an example where the innovation is now in decline as far as sales are concerned. This is the reason why many successful companies often engage in continuous innovation so that when a product lapses into the decline phase of the bell curve, they can add more features or take the evolutionary leap on the product by changing it completely. Further, marketers usually estimate the time it takes products to reach their peak and start the process of decline and they factor in this curve into their calculations.

Concluding Thoughts

The business landscape of the 21st century resembles the diffusion process that has been compressed vastly. It is no longer the case that product lifecycles last years or decades and now the diffusion and decline happen within months for most innovations. This is the reason why companies must embark on continuous improvement and continuous innovation.


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