A term often used to describe those who are prone to using a new technology before it is popularized. Considerable marketing effort is made to identify likely early adopters/adaptors for a technology and market a given new product directly to them. The term comes from a classification of five categories of buyers for new technology developed by the American Management Association in the 1980s:
- Innovators, a very small group, typically adventurous technophiles, often technologists themselves. They read journals and magazines in their area of interest and will purchase new products before they are proven or accepted. They are somewhat influential with other buyers in their group, but typically represent only 2 percent or so of the target market;
- Early Adopters/Adaptors, generally broad opinion leaders and influencers, they will adopt a product, or adapt to a change (product or method), if they believe it works and may enhance their lifestyle or business efficiency and usually represent about 15 percent of the target market;
- Early Majority, who are pragmatic adopters of technology, who only start to buy once their peers and role models have created a comfort factor by buying first, typically form about 39 percent of a target market;
- Late Majority, who typically wait until the product is a universally accepted solution and prices have dropped, indeed they may wait until the innovators and early adaptors have moved on to new product generations, price driven and dependent on mass media for an impetus to buy, will usually represent about another 39 percent of the target market;
- Laggards, who only buy when shunning the technology is no longer a viable option, perhaps because the early solution is no longer available, typically represent about 5 percent of the market.