Adoption and Diffusion in Marketing Communication

by smartamarketing

The diffusion theory was developed in the 1930s and expanded on by Professor Everett Rogers of Stanford University. It holds that there are five steps in the process of acquiring new ideas:

Awareness—the person discovers the idea or product.

Interest—the person tries to get more information.

Trial—the person tries the idea on others or samples the product.

Evaluation—the person decides whether the idea works for his or her own self-interest.

Adoption—the person incorporates the idea into his or her opinion or begins to use the product.

In this model, the marcomms writer is most influential at the awareness and interest stages of the process. People often become aware of a product, service, or idea through traditional mass outlets such as newspapers, magazines, radio, and television. Indeed, the primary purpose of advertising in the mass media is to create awareness, the first step in moving people toward the purchase of a product or sup-port of an idea.

At the interest stage, people seek more detailed information from such sources as pamphlets, brochures, direct mail, videotape presentations, meetings, and symposia. That is why initial publicity to create awareness often includes an 800 number or an address that people can use to request more information.

Family, peers and associates become influential in the trial and evaluation stages of the adoption model. Mass media, at this point, serves primarily to reinforce messages and predispositions.

It is important to realise that a person does not necessarily go through all five stages of adoption with any given idea or product.. A number of factors affect the adoption process. There are at least five.

Relative advantage—is the idea better than the one it replaces?

Compatibility  is the idea consistent with the person’s existing values and needs?

Complexity     is the innovation difficult to understand and use?

Trialability       can the innovation be used on a trial basis?

Observability—are the results of the innovation visible to others?

You should be aware of these factors and try to overcome as many of them as possible. Repeating a message in various ways, reducing its complexity, taking competing messages into account, and structuring the message to the needs of the audience are ways to do this.