How do innovations spread in the population? Why do certain innovations fail? What would be the qualities that determine the success of an innovation? And how can companies increase the rate of adoption of the latest innovations? If companies do not act properly, than they are likely to lose the advantage they might have after introducing a new innovation in the market.
These and an endless number of questions keep marketers awake when trying to introduce something new to the market. The concept which gives an answer to all these questions is called the diffusion of innovation. Diffusion of innovation is a theory which explains how innovation is adopted by the population, in how much time does the innovation spread, and finally whether the innovation actually succeeds in bringing a change or it fails in the process.
The Diffusion of innovation concept provides us with a deep insight on how innovations are accepted into a population which then brings about a social change. The diffusion of innovation concept also describes the qualities that help innovations spread through either face-to-face communications or mass media.
There are five different stages of Diffusion of innovation
- Knowledge – Where the target customer gets to know about the innovation
- Persuasion – Either internal or external, the customer persuades himself or is persuaded through word of mouth to adopt the innovation.
- Decision – After persuasion, the customer takes a decision and actually adopts the product.
- Implementation – At this stage, the customer is continuously analyzing the innovation while at the same time using it. By using the innovative product, he is getting to know the advantages and disadvantages of the innovative product.
- Confirmation – At this stage, the customer finally decides to stick with the innovative product. After this stage, the customer himself becomes an influencer and might make other people adopt the innovation.
If we were to think what exactly describes an innovation, we should consider any new idea, behavior or even object that is brought to the market. Due to globalization, technological and knowledge revolutions, people have greater expectations and they are in a permanent search for solutions to facilitate their daily lives. Companies which do not respond accordingly risk to loose position on the market and slowly starting to notice a decline in growth. Besides adding value for a company, innovations help it to remain effective and competitive on the market and develop profit maximization.
Let’s take a look into the higher education business. The current model of education consisting in lecturing and examinations has started to experience a decline in growth for the past couple of years. With rising tuition fees, changes in the lifestyles of people by getting married earlier, having children and jobs, remaining with no time for obtaining a degree, innovation is a must.
Therefore, in 2008, a university from Canada has been the first to introduce an online computing course. During the next years, numerous universities from all around the world have started to introduce online courses, providing online degrees also. The innovation proved to be extremely effective. Why? Because it has presented people with an economic advantage in terms of the tuition fees. The tuition fees is considerably lower for the online course as compared to a normal degree. This innovation was convenient, as people could plan their time according to their priorities, and as per their own satisfaction.
By taking an online degree from one of the most prestigious universities such as Harvard or Stanford, we could also add the element of social prestige. Thus, this innovation is proving to be simple and easy to use. Online degrees have remained consistent with the perceptions and values of people in search for higher education. But at the same time, they have offered them observable results.
Once online degrees are introduced, the process of redevelopment of the higher education systems doesn’t stop here. For example, Unopar University in Brazil offers low cost degree courses using online materials and weekly seminars, transmitted via satellite. Thus, it is not that traditional education systems will be lost. But because of the innovation of online courses, it is only a matter of time until things are going to change.
Basically, the degree of adoption of innovations depends on the needs of the user group. As innovation spreads from early adopters to majority audiences, face-to-face communication becomes more essential to the decision to adopt. Techniques like popular opinion leaders or focus groups are some of the essential tools to start focusing on innovation and identify how you can cover the unthought of needs of your customers.
It might sound easy to come up with different kind of innovations. However, many of the new ideas don’t even get to spread around the market, as they fail to be accepted from the beginning. This might happen because of customers increased fear of change and the risks associated with it. Or it may happen because the idea was not executed properly. Finding ways to provide credible reassurances, might represent a method to overcome these kind of barriers.