My Start-up: Customer adoption process

Accessing the internet using smart devices enables people to buy products, and businesses to gain customers. The UK for instance had an estimated population of 66.8 million in 2019, with 97% of people accessing the internet as per Statista. All these individuals are buying products to fulfil various needs, from self-actualisation, esteem and belonging, to safety and physiological daily needs.

To build an effective strategy, businesses must understand the customer adoption process or simply put, to find the answer to the question: How do customers buy?

Most of the time, the sellers are product-focused and send information to the customer about the product in a feature-advantage-benefits frame, mis-considering that people buy outcomes, and ending up with a low adoption rate.

A correct adoption happens when the seller provides the customer with information about the product in such manner that the customer is stimulated to perceive the following factors:

Relative Advantage (stimulates the perception that the product is superior to existing ones)

Compatibility (stimulates the perception that the product confirms the expectations of the customer)

Complexity (stimulates the perception that data about the product is revealed in a structured way)

Divisibility (stimulates the perception that the product can be tested)

Communicability (stimulates the perception that product adoption is visible and can be communicated to others).

When adopting a product, the customer enters a 5-stage process:

Awareness Stage is the stage where the customer is first exposed to a product but does not have sufficient data to make an informed decision. Although their adoption’s desire is the main driver, their level of knowledge about the product is very low. At this stage it’s very important that businesses teach the customer how to buy and how to use the product.

Interest Stage is the moment when the customer is starting to seek and gain more data about the product. A strong customer support is a must for a business selling a product with medium to high complexity.

In the Evaluation Stage, the customer is getting ready to embrace the change and the decision process is focused on analysing data they collected. In this stage, the customer may decide to leave the product as well as adopt it, because they may not make sense of the overall complexity. This is the stage where businesses should offer a smooth transition forward, by offering the customer comparative data.

If the customer does not leave the process in the decision stage, they then transit through the Trial Stage where they seek related evidence. They will want to understand if they really need the product, if the product’s use is interconnected to other uses or other products, if the products may last shorter or longer than initially assumed, etc. The business should support this stage with guarantees and insurances that will comfort the customer’s decision.

In the final stage, the Adoption Stage, the customer finalizes their decision to adopt and continue using the product, sometimes by seeking group confirmation that they made a correct decision.

So that leads to the conclusion that every stage of the customer adoption process bears significant importance and should be carefully planned and monitored, to ensure a natural transition to product acquisition.

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