It is perplexing that marketers launching new brands select “early adopters” as their target customers. This practice may be traced back to B-School, where we were taught that early adopters and new brands fit hand in glove. The conventional wisdom of eminence-based marketing organizations reinforces this notion.
However, I’m not a proponent of pursuing early adopters for several reasons. First, you don’t have to find them. They will find you. Early adopters are on the lookout for the next new thing and eager to be among the first to engage with it. Second, since they are typically actively seeking to discover the novel, promoting to them seems like a waste of valuable resources. Third, and consistent with the definition of early adopters, is that they are also early to exit. On the flip side, they’re “early exiters.” They’re gone when the next new shiny thing comes along.
A fourth reason to avoid pursuing early adopters is that it encourages lazy thinking. It causes marketers to miss a genuine psychographic target—people who believe in your Brand Idea, share your brand’s values and respond enthusiastically to your value proposition—with whom you can build a tribe of loyal users. Fifth, the target customer psychographic should ideally be a “magnetic psychographic.” Namely, it’s a label that will exert a pull on successive waves of customers to join your tribe by allowing it to define them and their values.
One last reason—as if I need another to refrain from selecting early adopters as my target customer—is that it overlooks the target’s motivation for choosing your brand. It doesn’t spell out what will drive your target customer to purchase, or prescribe, or use, and become loyal to your brand.
No, I’ll take a pass on pursuing early adopters—despite being thankful for their early purchases—to target those customers with whom I can create brand loyalty.