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What is Product Adoption and How to Increase It

Any business that wants to thrive and not just survive needs to grow its customer base over time. While customer retention is of vital importance, so is convincing new customers to adopt new products, services, and other offerings.

To do this, business executives need to grasp and master product adoption, the process by which customers switch from one product to another. Not sure what product adoption is or how to increase it? This guide will break down both topics in detail.

Product Adoption Explained

Put simply, product adoption is an economic process that occurs as consumers become aware of and then adopt a new product in favor of an old one. Product adoption is a long and complex process and it occurs at varying rates depending on factors like the target consumer’s attributes, the products in question, and how intensely the new product creator is pushing their solution.

Product adoption is an important topic to consider for any business looking to increase sales of a new product line, service, or another income stream. The greater a business’s product adoption rate is, the faster they will see returns on their initial development investment.

After all, simply creating the next best thing in a given industry is not enough. A business must convince their target consumers that they should use the new product in favor of what they are already using.

Even in sectors where there isn’t a competing product – such as with Apple in the 2000s when they came up with the first iPhone – product adoption must still be considered. In this case, target consumers must be convinced to purchase a product to solve a problem that they may not yet realize they have.

Four Product Adoption Forces

While product adoption is a unique process for every new product, it can broadly be broken down into four forces. These four forces must each be considered in turn and leveraged to influence a customer to switch from an existing product to a new product.

Let’s examine each of these four forces one by one.

Uncertainty About Change

The first two product adoption forces relate to consumers that already have a product “solving” the problem that a new product is meant for.

By default, humans are stuck in their ways and unwilling to make drastic changes in their lives without good reason, i.e. something that will benefit them. In fact, many people feel a small amount of anxiety or uncertainty whenever the topic of change comes up. This extends both to more significant changes, such as starting a new job, and to smaller changes, like purchasing a new type of toaster.

The first major force that businesses must overcome is this inherent anxiety or change uncertainty. By overcoming this, target consumers will be more willing to try new solutions if they see enough evidence that doing so will improve their lives.

Existing Allegiance

Consumers that already use an existing product or solution will also likely retain some allegiance or loyalty to their current product.

This, again, is human nature. But existing habits and allegiances can be worn down through proof that a new product will provide better performance than the current product. Overcoming both of these forces will leave a target consumer in a prime position to try a new solution for a given need.

Issues with Current Products

The next two product adoption forces deal with convincing consumers to try a new product.

One of the best ways to inspire someone to try something new is to point out issues with their current situation. For example, a business might come out with a new pair of running shoes. They can directly compare their new running shoes with the closest computing running shoes, emphasizing all of their flaws and potential downsides.

People naturally pay more attention to negative aspects than positive aspects. Therefore, any business looking to push product adoption should heavily focus on pointing out problems with current products or solutions.

This concept can be extended in a more general sense as well, particularly if there is not a direct competitor to critique. For example, a new product designed to solve an existing life need – such as opening the garage door – can simply point out the problems with the current approach.

A business creating a new garage door opener could point out how inconvenient it is to have to get out of your car and manually open and close your garage door when coming to or leaving from your home.  

New Product Attractiveness

The flip side of this focus is the emphasis on the attractive or inspiring parts of a new product or solution. Businesses looking to increase the adoption of new products should necessarily focus on boosting that product’s attractiveness as much as possible.

This involves:

  • Clearly explaining how the product solves the issue at hand
  • Showing how consistent and effective the product is
  • Pointing out areas where the product directly improves on weak spots or critiques seen with competing products

How to Boost Product Adoption

Understanding the forces involved in product adoption is just one piece of the puzzle. Businesses must also understand how to directly boost product adoption through targeted efforts.

Increase Competitor Push-Away

One easy way to do this is to boost competitor push-away or boost how quickly people are moving away from a competing product. This is mostly useful when competing products are inherently flawed and there are simple ways in which a new product can improve upon those issues.

Businesses should specifically point out any and all tangible flaws that a current product customer might experience.

Again, people naturally focus on negative impulses much more than positive ones. This can benefit a business’s marketing campaign if that campaign focuses on how “awful” its target consumer’s current approach is compared to the new solution at hand.

Emphasize the Fix

At the same time, product adoption efforts should emphasize how the new product being discussed can fix whatever the issue is. The fix should be total, easy to understand, and easy to use in order to maximize the ease of switching (more on that below).

While negativity can be a powerful marketing force, it’s not complete without a positive resolution to the marketing message. People will not respond to a product adoption push that simply spells out how terrible a particular aspect of their life is with their current products.

They have to be shown that there’s a way out of the explained issue. Otherwise, they’ll disengage and be less willing to entertain switching over to a new product in the future.

Improve the Ease of Switching

Product adoption can be pushed by making the cost of switching over quick and painless. This is more complex with certain industries than others.

For example, a hosting company may want new customers to come over from its competitors. To do this, they can offer free website migration as a bonus package with any new subscription. By doing this, the hosting company can improve the ease of switching and make it relatively trivial for target consumers to benefit from its better prices or services.

Include Instructions or Tips

Similarly, companies can include extra instructions or tips with the new product or service. This eases the transition and makes new consumers feel as though they have a solid grasp on their new situation. Naturally, this is more important for certain technical companies and products, such as companies in the IT sector, the mechanical sector, or even the automobile industry.

The last thing people want is to feel confused or overwhelmed when they make a switch from an existing product, which they at least understood even if they were underwhelmed by its performance, to a new and supposedly better alternative.

Cross-Sell with Existing Products and Marketing

Lastly, companies can improve product adoption by cross-selling with existing products and marketing. This works much better if the target consumers are already spending money on the business in question.

But by strategically pointing out the value of a new product in existing marketing materials, or by cross-selling a new product with regular, already proven products, adoption rates for the new offer could significantly increase.


All in all, product adoption is a vital process to understand if you want to leverage your marketing and instructional efforts correctly. People can and often do switch from one product to another or change their loyalty from one company to another. But they don’t do so without good reason.

Product adoption involves finding and pushing those good reasons so that consumers willingly switch over without having to take forever.

If you’re not certain about your current product adoption approach, you might benefit from contacting a design and sourcing studio such as Harper+Scott. We’d be happy to discuss your current product adoption strategies and even help you come up with branded or private-label products for your business. Contact us today and we’ll get started.