How The Early Adopter Plays A Key Role During The New Product Diffusion Process

How The Early Adopter Plays A Key Role During The New Product Diffusion Process

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The early adopter plays a key role during the new product diffusion process. Theories suggest that the new product diffusion is a two-step product adoption process: a new product would be firstly accepted by influentials (e.g., opinion leaders) who are more in touch with new developments, and then imitators who are affected by influentials will follow to adopt (Van den Bulte and Joshi 2007). Therefore, firms may not be able to reach the mainstream market in the second step without accurately targeting the segment of early adopters in the first step (Iyengar, Van den Bulte, and Valente 2011). Because of a greater need of distinction and the higher social acceptance of high status people, many academic studies have found an association between status and early adoption intention, implying that individual status is one useful navigator that leads companies to find those unique early adopters.
In those studies that focused on the status effect, one consistent research setting and one common finding repeatedly appeared. First, the majority of these studies defined status as social status and investigated its effect in a social context (e.g., the degree of centrality in a social network). Second, many studies yielded the same conclusion that high social status would result in a higher tendency to adopt new products (Iyengar, Van den Bulte, and Valente 2011; Timmor and Katz-Navon 2008; Fisher and Price 1992). For instance, from the middle-status conformity theory, some studies posited that high status consumers may feel more confident in their social acceptance, and as a result, they may tend to fearlessly adopt innovations, which usually deviate from conventional products (Van den Bulte and Joshi 2007). Only few studies (e.g., Hu and ...


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...far behind him.
The research purpose of this dissertation is twofold: 1) showing that status effect could work differently outside of a social context by testing its effect in a competitve context (main effect of status); 2) showing when and why highly ranked contestants tend to postpone their adoption of new products. We posit that the new product adoption intention of a high status contestant is a function of threats toward status (moderating effect of status crisis). We proceed by discussing theories related to status effect and competition from psychology and marketing research, and develop our hypotheses based on those theories. We next describe five proposed research settings: three studies designed for testing the main effect of status and two studies for examining the effect of moderators. We then discuss their implications for theory, research, and practice.

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