Consumer adoption of technological innovations

Consumer adoption of technological innovations

Consumer adoption of technological innovations is the process consumers use to determine whether or not to adopt an innovation. This process is influenced by consumer characteristics, such as personality traits and demographic or socioeconomic factors, the characteristics of the new product, such as its relative advantage and complexity, and social influences, such as opinion leaders.

In the context of technological innovations, the adoption process is also influenced by one or several new technologies that are incorporated in the new product. New technologies are likely to significantly affect the innovation's functionality or interface. Functionality refers to the set of potential benefits that a product can provide the consumer. Interface refers here to the specific means by which a consumer interacts with a product to obtain a particular functionality. Specifically, new technologies suggest four types of innovations with unique characteristics that are likely to affect the adoption process.


Existing functionality and existing interface

These innovations are incremental in nature since they offer an existing functionality and an existing interface; however, they are usually characterized by esthetic changes that affect the product's appearance. Smart phones, for example, are usually black or silver when first introduced into the market but are available in multiple colors several months later.

Existing functionality and new interface

These innovations provide benefits available by existing products but result in a new set of actions for the consumer. Voice recognition software is one example of this type of innovation. Consumers create documents or emails, for example, by dictating (instead of typing) to a computer.

New functionality and existing interface

These innovations do not change consumer interaction with a device; they offer, however, a new functionality. Multi-mode cellphones, for example, operate in more than one frequency and enable roaming between different countries.

New functionality and new interface

Car GPS navigation systems, for example, fall under this category. These products provide the consumer with novel functionality, such as door-to-door navigation and real-time traffic information. The novel interface implies a new set of actions for using the device, such as using a touch-screen and voice recognition interfaces. Innovations that incorporate a novel interface require significant learning cost from the consumer since they imply learning a new set of tasks. High learning cost is likely to hinder the adoption of such innovations, unless the functionality provided is new and provides significant benefits to the consumer. Furthermore, innovations incorporating a novel interface often result in fear of technological complexity leading to feelings of ineptitude and frustration. Conversely, innovations that provide the consumer with a new functionality are characterized by a high relative advantage, which is likely to facilitate adoption.


1. Robertson, Kassarjian. "Handbook of Consumer Behavior". Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall., 1991, p. 316-348

2. Hill, Smith, Mann. "Role of efficacy expectations in predicting the decision to use advanced technologies:The case of computers." Journal of Applied Psychology, 1987/05, p. 307-313.

3. Mick, Fournier. (1998). "Paradoxes of technology; Consumer cognizance, emotions, and coping strategies." Journal of Consumer Research, 1998/9, p. 123-143.

4. Rogers."The Diffusion of Innovations". New York: Free Press. 1983

5. Ziamou, Ratneshwar. "Innovations in product functionality: When and why are explicit comparisons effective." Journal of Marketing, 2003/4, p. 49-61.

6. Ziamou, Veryzer. "The influence of temporal distance on consumer preferences for technology-based innovations." The Journal of Product Innovation Management, 2005/7, p. 336-346.

7. Rawls, John. "A Theory of Justice". Harvard University Press, 1971, p. 1.

8. Narayanan, O'Connor. "Encyclopedia of Technology and Innovation Management". Wiley & Sons, 2010, p. 117-118

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