What makes new ideas, products and brands successful?

What happens when a new technology or new brand gets launched in the market? What makes the difference between success & failure? How does the psychology of the consumer drive that process? This is the first in a series in which Paul Watts will aim to explore these questions.
Paul Watts

March 8, 2018

I have worked on a fair number of projects in my time where the adoption of new technology and new concepts was a key question.  It is something that has always fascinated me – what happens when a new technology or a new brand gets launched in the market?  What makes the difference between success and failure?  And, how does the psychology of the consumer drive that process?

Technology moves fast these days.  It seems barely a month goes by without hearing news of the launch of some new product or new technological advantage that will be “the next big thing”.

Just think how such things as the mobile devices and online shopping have transformed our society in such a short period of time.  Just 20 years ago there were no Smartphones and the greater majority of people, even in the developed world, did not even have internet access, let alone shop online.

What next?  Potentially game changing new innovations such as electric vehicles, virtual reality, robotics and the “Internet of Things” could all potentially have an impact just as dramatic on the way we live over the coming decade.  But which ones will make the biggest difference the fastest?  Almost as importantly, which brands will be the winners and losers? 

Part of the answer comes back to a theory for the adoption of new ideas that has been around for a long time – the theory of diffusion of innovations, which first introduced by Everett Rogers in 1962.

Whilst the theory has been around for a long time, we often take it for granted these days.  Perhaps it is time we revisited it with fresh eyes.

Here are some observations and questions it raises in my mind:

  1. ‍The theory divides adoption into different stages but it also divides people into different types of people.  An innovator is the guy who bought his first home computer in 1977.  A laggard is the guy who probably still doesn’t have one.  That’s a very different psychology.
  2. ‍If the people within different stages of the adoption cycle have a different psychology – does that mean that marketers need to adapt their marketing message and approach to appeal to these different groups in different ways?
  3. ‍It is a cycle that implies various key moments exist – tipping points as it were.  What happens at these tipping points?  What changes?  For example, how does a brand make the jump from being a successful niche brand (having been adopted by innovators and early adopters) to becoming successful mass market brand (what happens that enables it to win over the “early majority”)?
  4. ‍If you consider the success brands like Apple and Samsung have enjoyed in the Smartphone market since 2000 – why them?  Why not any number of other mobile phone brands that were around back in 2000?

These are questions which greatly interest me & which I plan to investigate in more detail in a future series of articles drawing on some of our own past research in search of some answers.


Paul Watts is a Director at Morar HPI. Paul has considerable experience in designing and managing research projects and using analytical techniques to uncover genuine insight into consumer behaviour.  Paul has a keen interest in how new technology and new ideas get adopted.

Morar HPI Limited is part of MIG Global and part of the Next15 Group.

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