Back in 2008, there were 500 apps on Apple’s App Store’s first official version. Today, there are more than 3.4 million Android apps and more than 2.2 million iOS apps, according to Statista. It is redundant to say that we have come a long way since the past decade regarding app usage and development.
With over 5 billion mobile users and an internet penetration rate of 57%, the app business is now one of the most significant digital sectors. 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, specific app performance measurement metrics are vital to an app’s overall success or failure. One of the crucial issues to watch is the adoption rate of an app or a product.
Today, we will have a look at one of the models crucial for analyzing how quickly users adopt a mobile product: The new product adoption curve and its relevance to the mobile ecosystem.
What Is Product Adoption?
Product adoption is the process that a person hears about a product, learns about its value, starts using it, and becomes an active user.
This definition is not limited to online products and might include material goods. However, it gives a good idea about the following question: What is mobile app adoption? Similarly, mobile application adoption stands for the process starting from the moment that a mobile user becomes aware of an app. If they start using the app frequently, it means that they adopted the app.
What Are the Five Stages of Product Adoption?
The product adoption process can be divided into five stages so that the product owner analyzes the process more thoroughly. While developing a product adoption or app adoption strategy, these stages enable the product team to identify where the problem is. Once they know it, they can solve it.
Awareness is the first stage in the new product adoption process. It encompasses the phase that people hear about the product and become aware of it. At this stage, they do not have any information or do not show any particular interest.
It is possible to discuss awareness stages together with the marketing efforts and user acquisition campaigns. A prospective user might see an ad or might know just the app name.
The second stage of the adoption of a product is interest. At this point, potential users start looking for more information about the app. To help them continue to the following stages, you need to make all the details about your app clear, available, and easily accessible.
Among the stages of product adoption, evaluation comes as the third one. If the information they saw in the interest stage can convince them that your app offers value, they will start evaluating. At this stage, they might have a look at the competitors or user reviews.
The evaluation stage might differ depending on your app’s business model. If users need to pay a price to get started, they will evaluate the advantages and disadvantages more deeply. However, if you provide a free trial, they will be more likely to install and see by themselves.
The trial is one of the most crucial stages in product adoption. A successful trial stage can change everything if users decide to install your app even though they have some doubts after the evaluation. Likewise, if they install it with great expectations, a failure in this stage might end the whole product adoption process.
Hence, you need to ensure that they go through the onboarding successfully and can actually discover what your app offers.
The last stage in the product adoption process is adoption. At this point, people become regular users of your app. They might be willing to pay the subscription price, make in-app purchases, or recommend your app to their friend.
Since you have a good idea about the new product adoption process, let’s continue with the product adoption curve explanation. It can guide you in your efforts for increasing mobile app adoption.
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 show who buys your product or service and when. This new product adoption model was introduced in 1962 by a professor named Everett Rogers, in his famous book Diffusion of Innovations. Later on, it started to be called Rogers’ Innovation Adoption Curve or Rogers’ Bell Curve.
According to Rogers, every human being will not adopt an idea or a proposition right away, even if it comes with visible benefits. He identified some key personality traits and behavioral patterns contributing to an individual’s acceptance of a new product or an innovation. Human behavior, according to him, can be divided into the following categories:
- Early adopters
- Early majority
- Late majority
These behavioral categories are also groups of the adoption curve model. Age and financial status might be two things that can influence product adoption. Also, the average app adoption rate might differ highly for these groups. Let us have a look at each of these categories in detail and how they can be incorporated in the mobile app context in relevance to mobile app adoption.
Innovators – The Tech Enthusiasts
Who is the first to adopt a new product, according to Roger’s Adoption Curve? Here comes the answer: innovators. These individuals are usually part of the younger age group, have the 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 once an app sees the light of day, these people will have the most information and product knowledge.
Early Adopters – Visionaries
The second-fastest category is the early adopters in the bell curve of adoption. This group consists of individuals who adopt an innovation after the innovators do. Falling just behind the innovators, this group has the highest amount of product awareness and relevant business knowledge, belongs to a higher social class, has financial freedom, and is more advanced than the other 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 more information on your app before downloading it.
Early Majority – Pragmatists
According to the adoption bell curve, this group of people goes for a product after a certain time. They will prefer to wait for a while, which may be due to financial constraints, alternatives available, lack of product awareness, or education. However, they are slow, but they still 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 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. According to the app adoption curve, this segment might have limited financial freedom, low product awareness, and less education than the above three groups.
In the mobile app context, these are the users who might have reservations regarding your app, possibly because they have not read about your app’s features and benefits. Hence, they might rely on their opinion formed through what they read or heard over social media or other inauthentic sources of information.
Laggards – Skeptics
These individuals are the ones who would consume a product at the very last due to several barriers to adoption of product. 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 app’s usage, let alone its purpose, usability, and adoption.
The graphic above represents a new product adoption curve example. Although the share of these five categories might change, they mostly look like 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
At this point, you might ask yourself: What is the purpose of product adoption curve? The answer is simple! If you understand how and when people adopt your app, you can develop a well-grounded strategy for product adoption marketing. To make the most of this model and to increase app adoption rate, 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 user adoption curve your app is currently at. For example, your user demographics and cohorts will be different when your app is relatively new on the app store. 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 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 is 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 convey the right message to your potential buyers and give 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 on board 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. The ones close to the laggards would know that they went for your product after a long period of evaluation. This will give an impression that your app is worth giving a shot!
This was all about the new product adoption curve. If you want to find other ways to maximize the user experience in your app, then you can read our article on the differences between Heuristics and usability testing. It 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: