Innovators can easily fall in love with their ideas; sadly, ignoring the basics of why future customers may, or may not adopt their innovation.
Why are some innovations more successful than others?
What factors influence the commercial success of an innovative product or service?
Everett M. Rogers, professor, and chair of the Department of Communication & Journalism at the University of New Mexico published a good list of influencing factors in his 2003 book, Diffusions of Innovations.
According to his research, there are 5 key perceived attributes of an innovation that determine its future commercial success.
- Relative advantage: How much better is the innovation than the thing that it is intending to disrupt? As an example, watching a movie on Netflix is far more convenient than traipsing your way to a video shop - so the relative advantage of Netflix as an innovation is HIGH.
- Visibility: How obviously better is the innovation to the existing options? When the first iPhone came out in 2007 with its keyboardless design and touchscreen, everyone could easily see how superior it was to everything else that was on the market at the time. It was like the future had arrived and immediately dated everything else.
- Trialability: How easy is it to give the new innovation a try? People don't always jump at the chance to change; new innovations need to incentivise potential customers to give their product a go. Free trials, subsidised prices - the tactics to encourage people to experience the superiority of the new innovation are endless.
- Simplicity: How easy is the new innovation to use? When it comes to trying to convince people to adopt a new innovation, the higher the perceived complexity of the innovation, the lower the rate of adoption. This is where techniques like Design Thinking come into their own.
- Compatibility: How consistent is the innovation with the existing values, past experiences, and needs of potential adopters? People hate to change, but if something feels familiar enough to what they are already used to, the likelihood that potential customers will switch to the innovation improves. The innovation then needs to be carefully 'positioned' in the minds of people to be better, but still familiar.
If you want your innovation to be adopted by people, you would do well to focus your attention on these 5 factors of success.