If you’re launching a new product or service into the UK market then PR is one of the weapons you’ll need to generate some sales momentum. You need to speed up the diffusion of the product into the marketplace.
Diffusion is the process by which a new idea, new service or new product is accepted by the market. The rate of diffusion is the speed that the new idea spreads from one consumer to the next. Adoption is similar to diffusion except that it deals with the psychological processes an individual goes through, rather than an aggregate market process.
There are several theories that purport to explain the mechanics of diffusion and these are really important to support your PR process. I know that some of this might come across as a bit “MMU PR MA” but I think it’s important for PR folk and clients to understand it fully.
- The two-step hypothesis – information and acceptance flows, via the media, first to opinion leaders, then to the general population
- the trickle-down effect – products tend to be expensive at first, and therefore only accessible to the wealthy social strata – in time they become less expensive and are diffused to lower and lower strata
- The Everett Rogers Diffusion of innovations theory – for any given product category, there are five categories of product adopters best ilustrated by this simple graphic:
The most difficult step is making the transition between visionaries (early adopters) and pragmatists (early majority). This is the chasm identified above. Products or services that cannot cross this chasm will die or remain niche. If successful, a PR agency will create a bandwagon effect in which the momentum builds and the product becomes ubiquitous.
So, the rate of diffusion is influenced by:
- The product’s perceived advantage or benefit.
- Riskiness of purchase.
- Ease of product use – complexity of the product.
- Immediacy of benefits.
- Extent of behavioural changes required.
- Return on investment.
Lesson over. Back to work.