Diffusion of Innovations

From innovators to laggards.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

Let’s explore the Diffusion of Innovations theory.

Developed by Everett Rogers, the Diffusion of Innovations the­ory explains how, why, and at what rate new ideas and tech­no­logy spread, bene­fi­cial for under­stand­ing how to mar­ket new products or ideas. 1Everett Rogers. (2024, February 9). In Wikipedia. https://​en​.wiki​pe​dia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​E​v​e​r​e​t​t​_​R​o​g​ers

Here we go:

Diffusion of Innovations

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Diffusion of innovations.
Diffusion of innovations.

Diffusion of Innovations

The Diffusion of Innovations the­ory, pro­posed by Everett Rogers in 1962, remains a frame­work for under­stand­ing how new ideas, tech­no­lo­gies, products, or prac­tices spread through soci­et­ies over time. 2Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of Innovations (5th ed.). Free Press.

The the­ory out­lines the pro­cess by which innov­a­tions are adop­ted by indi­vidu­als and groups, emphas­ising the role of com­mu­nic­a­tion chan­nels, social net­works, and the char­ac­ter­ist­ics of the innov­a­tion itself. 

  • Innovators (2,5%)
  • Early Adopters (13,5%)
  • Early Majority (34%)
  • Late Majority (34%)
  • Laggards (16%)

By examin­ing real-life examples, we can bet­ter com­pre­hend the prin­ciples of this the­ory and its applic­a­tions in vari­ous fields:

  • Smartphone adop­tion. The rap­id adop­tion of smart­phones provides a com­pel­ling example of the dif­fu­sion of innov­a­tions. Initially, smart­phones were adop­ted by tech enthu­si­asts and early adop­ters who val­ued their advanced fea­tures. Over time, as prices decreased and func­tion­al­ity improved, smart­phones became more access­ible to the gen­er­al pub­lic. Today, they are nearly ubi­quit­ous, illus­trat­ing the dif­fu­sion pro­cess from innov­at­ors to early adop­ters, early major­ity, late major­ity, and finally, laggards.
  • Social media adop­tion. The rise of social media plat­forms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram exem­pli­fies the dif­fu­sion of innov­a­tions in the digit­al realm. These plat­forms began with small user bases but quickly gained momentum as early adop­ters spread pos­it­ive exper­i­ences to their social net­works. As social media became ingrained in every­day life, more con­ser­vat­ive users gradu­ally embraced these plat­forms, lead­ing to wide­spread adop­tion across demographics.
  • Electric vehicle adop­tion. The adop­tion of elec­tric vehicles rep­res­ents a con­tem­por­ary example of the dif­fu­sion of innov­a­tions with­in the auto­mot­ive industry. Initially, EVs faced scep­ti­cism and lim­ited con­sumer interest due to con­cerns about range, char­ging infra­struc­ture, and price. However, as tech­no­logy advanced and envir­on­ment­al aware­ness grew, early adop­ters embraced EVs. Government incent­ives and improve­ments in bat­tery tech­no­logy fur­ther accel­er­ated adop­tion, lead­ing to broad­er accept­ance and main­stream adoption.
  • Streaming adop­tion. The shift from tra­di­tion­al tele­vi­sion to online stream­ing ser­vices illus­trates the dif­fu­sion of innov­a­tions in the enter­tain­ment sec­tor. Platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video ini­tially attrac­ted tech-savvy early adop­ters seek­ing altern­at­ives to tra­di­tion­al cable TV. As these ser­vices improved their con­tent lib­rar­ies and user inter­faces, they gained trac­tion among the early and late major­ity. Today, stream­ing has become the dom­in­ant con­tent con­sump­tion mode for mil­lions worldwide.
  • Telemedicine adop­tion. The adop­tion of telemedi­cine ser­vices provides a recent example of innov­a­tion dif­fu­sion in the health­care industry, par­tic­u­larly high­lighted dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. Initially met with scep­ti­cism due to con­cerns about patient con­fid­en­ti­al­ity and the qual­ity of care, telemedi­cine gained accept­ance among early adop­ters seek­ing con­veni­ence and access­ib­il­ity. As reg­u­lat­ory bar­ri­ers were over­come and health­care pro­viders integ­rated tele­health into their prac­tices, broad­er adop­tion fol­lowed, with patients and pro­viders recog­nising its benefits.

The Diffusion of Innovations the­ory offers insights into how new ideas and tech­no­lo­gies influ­ence soci­et­ies. Understanding these dynam­ics can inform pub­lic rela­tions strategies across diverse contexts.

Diffusion research has helped under­stand new product adop­tion and dif­fu­sion, with net­work ana­lys­is and field exper­i­ments being prom­ising tools in under­stand­ing the con­sump­tion of new products.”
Source: Journal of Consumer Research 3Rogers, E. (1976). New Product Adoption and Diffusion. Journal of Consumer Research, 2, 290 – 301. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​8​6​/​2​0​8​642

Learn more: Diffusion of Innovations

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Thanks for read­ing. Please con­sider shar­ing my pub­lic rela­tions blog with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tion and mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als. If you have ques­tions (or want to retain my PR ser­vices), please con­tact me at jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

PR Resource: Psychology Theories

1 Everett Rogers. (2024, February 9). In Wikipedia. https://​en​.wiki​pe​dia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​E​v​e​r​e​t​t​_​R​o​g​ers
2 Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of Innovations (5th ed.). Free Press.
3 Rogers, E. (1976). New Product Adoption and Diffusion. Journal of Consumer Research, 2, 290 – 301. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​8​6​/​2​0​8​642
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwerhttps://doctorspin.net/
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that there is more to life than strategic communication.

The cover photo has


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