The Early Majority (34%) adopts innovation after most of the bugs have been ironed out and the value is easily seen. These companies help innovation push past the tipping point to become more mainstream. They are practical by nature and are comfortable with moderately progressive ideas that have shown they can be valuable. However, the Early Majority often have financial constraints making them reluctant to invest until the idea (or technology) has been properly vetted. After the innovation clearly displays that it will generate value, the Early Majority buys into the product or service wholeheartedly.
How the Early Majority Views Change
The Early Majority aren’t always seen as pioneers but do have considerable power within their industry. They make changes after understanding the value the change can generate. They are typically in mature industries and markets and cannot afford to fall behind their competition.
Examples: Large automobile manufacturers (e.g. Ford, General Motors, Chrysler), oil and gas companies (e.g. Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Valero Energy)
The Late Majority (34%) adopts an innovation after it has proven its worth. There is considerable skepticism with this group. Many in this group only adopt because they know they need to keep up with competitors. Being risk averse, the Late Majority is always observing their competition to make sure they are in line with those who are taking initiative and leaning forward. These companies follow mainstream standards and are constantly looking at what others are doing so they can jump on the bandwagon. Before buying in, they want to hear that the product or service they are adopting is a sure thing. Unfortunately, a big deterrent for this group is the negative influence they receive from the final group, the Laggards, who incessantly highlight what could go wrong with the idea or technology.
How the Late Majority Views Change
The Late Majority knows they will be in trouble if they do not implement change and so takes action to limit the risk of falling behind. Deep down they know they need to change but would love for things to remain the same. They are comfortable with the way their business runs, so they don’t want to offset anything. This is often because they have had success in the past. Regardless, even the change they make may not be enough due to their inability to address all of the changes that are happening in their industry or market.
Examples: Sears, AOL, General Electric
The Laggards (16%) pull up the rear and are the last to adopt an innovation or change. Unlike other groups, Laggards have a strong aversion to change and look to avoid it at all costs. They love tradition and always see the negative that could happen with any innovation. This causes them to postpone making changes for as long as possible, and when they finally do, they are usually kicking and screaming the whole time.3
How the Laggards View Change
Laggards only change because they are forced to change. They would love for things to remain the same and for them to be able to maintain “business as usual.” They appreciate the way life used to be and wish their business would be able to just continue as it always has. Laggards will do whatever is necessary to avoid making changes. This inevitably causes them to fail.
Examples: Independent book stores, vintage furniture shops, small hardware stores
Being part of the Late Majority or Laggard group has always hurt companies. However, the increased rate of technological advances that is occurring in the world today makes it even more troubling. Companies that attempt to delay updates and advances for extended periods of time run the risk of falling behind quicker than ever before. And with new innovations such as artificial intelligence, automation, mobile platforms, sensors, and data analytics revolutionizing the way the world operates and business ecosystems function, and the pace expected to continue accelerating, the cost of putting off change is too much to ignore. In order to win, you must take advantage of the progressive way innovation is moving and business is transforming. You cannot afford to wait.