New Product Adoption Curve Adapted for Mobile


Back in 2008, there were 500 apps on Apple’s App Store’s first official version – today, there are more than 2.2 million iOS apps. It is redundant to say that we have come a long way since the past decade in terms of app usage and development.

With over 5 billion mobile users in the world and an internet penetration rate of 57%, the app business is, undoubtedly, one of the biggest digital sectors in the world at present. However, these ever-increasing numbers also mean something else – competition is on the rise, too. 

From a developer’s or a UI/UX designer’s perspective, there are certain app performance measurement metrics that are vital to an app’s overall success or failure. These metrics include user engagement, daily active users (DAU), monthly active users (MAU), churn rate, etc. Yes, these numbers and stats are imperative – however, another element that is important is your app or your product adoption from a user or potential buyer’s perspective.

Today, we will have a look at one of the models that talks about product adoption, and talk about its adaption or relevance in the mobile app industry. This model is commonly known as the new product adoption curve, or simply, product adoption curve.


New Product Adoption Curve – The Basics


In the simplest of definitions, the new product adoption curve is one of the globally recognized and accepted models that shows who buys your product or service and when. This model was introduced in 1962 by a professor named Everett Rogers, in his famous book Diffusion of Innovations.

According to Rogers, every human being will not adopt an idea or a proposition right away, even if it comes with obvious and visible benefits. He identified some key personality traits and behavioral patterns that contribute towards an individual’s acceptance to a new product or an innovation. The human behavior, according to him, is split into the following elements:

Let us have a look at each of these elements in detail and how they can be incorporated in the mobile app context in relevance to app adoption.


Innovators – The Tech Enthusiasts

According to this model, the first group of people who buy or consume your product are called the innovators. These are the individuals who are usually part of the younger age group, have means and resources to take financial risks, belong to the highest social class, have a good amount of access to scientific sources and can easily interact with fellow innovators.

Keeping the app business in mind, these innovators can be the very first users who download and install your app, even when you haven’t promoted or advertised your app yet. This group is willing to take risks and this is the same group who, once an app sees the light of day, will have the most information and product knowledge.


Early Adopters – Visionaries

The second-fastest category is the early adopters. This group consists of those individuals who adopt an innovation after the innovators do. Falling just behind the innovators, this group is  believed to have the highest amount of product awareness, relevant business knowledge, belong to a higher social class, have financial freedom and are more advanced than the rest of the categories explained below.

In the context of mobile apps, these could be the users who download and install your app just a few days after you have released your app’s first stable version. They might not install it right away, since they might wait for your app’s reviews in the app store or look up for more information on your app before downloading it.


Early Majority – Pragmatists

This group of people go for a product after a certain period of time. They will prefer to wait for a while, may be due to financial constraints, alternatives available, lack of product awareness or education. However, they are slow but they still manage to get convinced to go for a product once the innovators and early adopters go for it.

Now, being an app developer, you can think of those users who might be part of your own social circle, your friends, family members, work colleagues from your same age bracket, etc. These people will not rush towards using your app as they might have a laid-back attitude towards product acceptance or adoption.


Late Majority – Conservatives

People who belong to this category will buy or consume a product after the majority of the society’s members have already bought it. This group or cohort will show signs of skepticism for a good amount of time, before they finally decide to go for a product. This segment is believed to be part of a below average social class, have limited financial freedom, low product awareness and are less educated than the above three groups.

In mobile app context, these are the users who might have reservations regarding your app, possible due to the fact that they have not read about your app’s features and benefits, and have their opinion formed through what they read or heard over social media or other inauthentic sources of information.

Laggards – Skeptics

This group of individuals are the ones who would consume a product at the very last. People who belong to this group show no signs of opinion leadership whatsoever. Usually, these individuals belong to the older age bracket within a society and are very non-receptive to change. They might value their traditional, cultural or religious beliefs, have the lowest financial freedom and have almost zero contact with other group types.

If you are the owner of a social media or an entertainment app, this could be your users who have little to no knowledge about your app and all the various aspects related to it. Other people might have to educate them about the usage of the app itself, let alone the app’s purpose, usability and adoption. In this graphical representation, these groups will experience a bell-shaped curve. The blue line shows the users adapting to a new app or a product, while the yellow line shows the total market share of 100%.


Strategies to Improve Your Product/App Adoption Curve

In order to make the most of this model in terms of user acceptance and adoption, there are a few steps that you can take:

Go with Relevant Marketing and Advertising

Make sure that you are identifying and making timely decisions based on which stage of the adoption curve your app is currently at. For example, when your app is quite new on the app store, your user demographics and cohorts will be different. One year down the road, you will have new cohorts with different reasons to use your app. Your marketing and advertising campaigns should be relevant to the age and/or other factors that are related to your mobile app.

Get Past the Chasm Stage 


There is a point known as the ‘chasm’ in a product adoption curve. It is usually the point that can either let you succeed or make you go through a failure rather quickly. The above image shows the chasm stage, usually it is at the beginning of this curve. It could mean your app making early in-roads in the app store. You will need to be at your very best as far as business decisions are concerned. A very slight mistake at this stage could cost you a lot.

The innovators and early adopters might have been rather easy for you to deal with, however, moving on towards other groups will take some effort to convince. Make sure your marketing campaigns are conveying the right message to your potential buyers and giving them value for their money instead of just fluff talk.

Laggards Are Not to be Left Behind

Usually the second largest group in an adoption curve, laggards are not supposed to be left behind or forgotten. Since they are the last ones who will get onboard with your app or product, you will need to come up with a lot of reasoning to convince them. 

However, once you are able to convince this specific group, you might be getting a lot more in return since the ones who are close to them would know that they didn’t go for your product for a certain period of time, but eventually they did – giving an impression that your app is worth giving a shot!


We hope we answered all of your questions regarding the new product adoption curve. If you still want to find ways to maximise the user experience in your app, then you can read our article on the differences between Heuristics and usability testing. This will give you a guide on how to use the most popular UX frameworks to evaluate the usability of your app. Or, here are some more of our best UX-centric articles:


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