How to Woo, Wow, and Win the Influence of Early Adopters

It’s a search term up 9,900 percent since 2014 and it’s related to an industry that seems to gain more steam with every expansion of the digital landscape. It’s a search term for an industry that’s fueled by early adopters of digital technology and that by the end of 2016 had nearly 30 million participants.

The industry?

Adult entertainment.

The search term?

“VR Porn.”

Indeed, the adult entertainment industry utilizes technology that seems all too well suited for early adopters, and truth be told, may even be (quietly) leading the revolution itself. By 2001, the adult entertainment industry had established some 70,000 websites. Now, webpages from porn sites number in the billions.

Today, the adult entertainment industry is providing a vector for virtual reality, and establishes yet another example of early adopters’ influence on digital technology. Virtual reality headsets are on the fast track to the mainstream with sales of Samsung’s Gear VR (the apparent leader of the VR headset pack) anticipated to be around 7 million units by the end of 2017.

The influence of early adopters

To be clear, people, not industries per se, drive early adoption of new digital technologies and experiences. Early adopters represent nearly 15 percent of consumers. While that number isn’t insignificant, the real power in the group comes in its ability to make or break a new product or experience. Early adopters are some of the most digitally connected users on the globe. When they speak, their networks listen and respond. And being late to the party is an affront to the persona of the typical early adopter, especially amongst Gen Zers. On the contrary, it’s all about being first. In that respect, early adopters consider themselves to be pioneers. They want to be the first to make new discoveries; find a new homestead; and then share it. Sharable discoveries give the early adopter street cred and fuel for individuality.

Young adopters

On a recent video shoot in London, UK, with one of our mobile technology clients, our team got an earful from Generation Z (kids, 12–20) about the rapid ignition and launch of another digital innovation: augmented reality (AR). Smart, engaged, and always looking for cool experiences and new technology, Gen Zers epitomize early adopters. In one-on-one interviews, each Gen Zer to a person provided rich and unsolicited detail of mobile augmented reality gaming experiences (Pokémon Go) and all were quick to make suggestions (candid commentary also being a trademark of early adopters) about AR games they’d love to see developed. Indeed, kids, gaming, and AR go together like fish, chips, and mushy peas, and in processing their experiences and ideas, you can sense the demographic pushing an industry.

Kids aren’t the only early adopters of AR experiences. In a recent study by our PLUS Network partner, YouGov, titled “Digital innovation: surviving the next wave of change,” we learned that 13 percent of the UK adult population has downloaded Pokémon Go, and 7 percent have downloaded the AR-infused Google Translate app.

In the same report, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella offers a quote that will no doubt push early adopters of new AR experiences into action: “I believe that every walk of life and every human activity which today is mediated by computers will be transformed by AR.”

Boom.

Here are 5 tips for marketing to early adopters:

  • Explore: To reach early adopters, marketers first need to understand what they think, feel, do, and don’t do. Sightsee their world and watch where they might be headed. Keep an eye on demographic trends and new technologies, and when you spot a convergence developing, be at the flash point. Yes, this approach requires no small amount of experimentation and risk, but what worthwhile venture doesn’t?
  • Challenge: Early adopters pride themselves on being more technically savvy than the rest of us. Offer experiences or technologies that challenge them. If it’s old hat, it’ll get ignored, or worse—trashed in social media. Fuel curiosity and spark emotions through creativity and innovation and not with trite advertising, which is a little off-putting to this crowd.
  • Serve: Early adopters expect great customer service. Theirs is an always-on lifestyle that requires uninterrupted—and mobile—services. Think instant gratification and resolution of issues before they get out of hand. Be sure you understand how they buy and make it easy for them. Chat bots and artificial intelligence will go a long way to ensure a smooth experience.
  • Personalize: Tailored content speaks volumes and is the elixir for loyalty. When content is customized to personal preferences, early adopters start to feel like their highly valued individuality is being recognized. That gets you off on the right foot with early adopters and gives your new product or experience a fighting chance in an extremely competitive marketplace.
  • Guide: Word-of-mouth needs a mouth. Make sure the new experience you drop into the hands of an early adopter incorporates an easily traversed avenue for sharing and buying. That sounds obvious in today’s marketplace, but then again, your new-fangled-thing is dead in the water if the early adopter can’t show it off or buy it. So, yeah, it’s important.