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Disciplines > Communication > Diffusion > Innovators

Description | Example | Selling to innovators | See also



Innovators are the first people to adopt a new idea. There is no evidence of real value, so they have to take things on trust. They have a high need for novelty and they like ideas just because they are new.

Their friends are often also innovators and they enjoy swapping information of what is new and showing off their latest acquisition or discussing the latest ideas and concepts.

Although they have some friends (often as geeky as them), innovators do not live in the middle of social groups. They typically prefer to be 'edge players' where they can stay in touch whilst also being able to do as they like. They may necessarily be quite think-skinned about criticism they get for adopting new ideas. They may also be seen as fickle and changeable.

Innovators are very disloyal to brands and products and will quickly ditch what they are currently admiring as the latest great idea comes along.


In technology, innovators are the people who buy, beg or borrow the latest new technology. They often have no particular use for them other than to play with it and show off to their friends. They hunt for new gadgets in exhibitions and avidly read publications that cater especially to their needs.

In change, innovators are often quite knowledgeable and are hence useful for including in reference groups where they can discuss the change and help improve it, although they are not great completers so beware of them one day just not turning up when they get bored with the detail.

Religious innovators switch from guru to guru, learning what they can and then moving on. They seem to be on a life-long search for the truth, though to others they may seem to miss what is under their noses.

Selling to innovators

Innovators like new things so key words for them are 'new', 'latest', 'novel', 'exciting' and so on.

Some good news about innovators is that they often have innovators for friends who congregate at seminars and read similar magazines, papers and other literature. These offer places where you can target them, for example by doing presentations and having stands at high-tech exhibitions.

Innovators pay little attention to the majority but do focus very closely on specialist opinion leaders. Getting to these 'uber-innovators' can thus be very important in getting the first toe-hold in the market.

The bad news about innovators is that they often do not have significant funds and you may have to give products away or sell at or below cost. The benefit of doing this is that you are using this segment as a loss-leader in order to get to the more profitable early adopters.

See also

The need for novelty


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