Business Magazine

Early Customer Feedback Can Lead to a Death Spiral

Posted on the 29 December 2011 by Martin Zwilling @StartupPro

sky3dFor most new high-tech products, the first customers are always “early adopters.” The conventional wisdom is that early adopters are the ideal target for new products, to get business rolling. I see two pitfalls with any concerted focus on early adopters; first, the size of this group may not be as large as you think, and secondly, their feedback may lead you directly away from your real target market of mainstream customers.

The term “early adopters” relates to the people who are eager to try almost any new technology products, and originates from Everett M. Rogers' Diffusion of Innovations book. Early adopters are usually no more than 10%-15% of the ultimate market potential, and marketing to them may be necessary, but not sufficient in marketing to the mainstream. Witness the market struggle for 3DTV acceptance over the past couple of years.

The good news is these people will readily provide candid feedback to help you refine future product releases, and push towards new features, increased control, and interoperability. The bad news is that they hardly ever push towards simplicity and increased usability needed by the masses.

The result can easily be the classic death spiral, driven by a small but vocal portion of your market, for more and more features, when you can least afford it in time or money. Equally bad, implementation of input from a few early adopters can actually prevent your products from being adopted by the majority, as follows:

  • Minimize value of usability features. Features you designed for average users, like wizards for configuration, and simple buttons to eliminate complex processes, will get no feedback, or removal recommendations. Early adopters like to see tricky and elegant details, rather than general usability.
  • Increased control and flexibility. Product suggestions by early adopters often ask for increased user control over details of the technology. However, each increase in control that you hand over to the users also increases user interface complexity, and the opportunity for pitfalls for the average user.
  • Emphasis on engineering robustness. Early adopters love the technology, sometimes to a fault. Technical issues like execution speed, file size, and memory usage are typical examples that always need further optimization. At some point it becomes compulsive engineering, rather than engineering to increase value for the average user.
  • Higher product price. They want new features automating complicated but obscure tasks. These features will likely be used by only a tiny fraction of the entire user base, but increase complexity for everyone. Early adopters are normally less price sensitive, so may mislead you in finalizing your pricing model.

The dilemma that we all face is that the most valuable customers might be the least vocal (silent majority). The users who scream the loudest are usually a minority segment. The challenge of every business is to proactively seek out a cross section of core users and ask them for feedback, rather than responding to random noise.

I’m certainly not suggesting that you ignore early adopters. Simply recognize them as a specific and important small market segment, and treat them with respect. Early adopters have money, and if they like your product, they’re generally very vocal about it and provide invaluable word-of-mouth press. You need their evangelism and passion to get enough momentum to start attracting mainstream consumers.


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Classy and Elegant Wedding in Santorini | Hollie & David

    Classy Elegant Wedding Santorini Hollie David

    The wedding of today’s couple was simply gorgeous! Undoubtedly, Santorini is one of the most preferable and romantic destinations to create your wedding, so... Read more

    16 hours, 13 minutes ago by   Eleni Balkouli
    LIFESTYLE, TRAVEL, WEDDING
  • Weather Or Not

    Weather

    Our weather has been all over the place. Yesterday was beautiful -- but chilly. A few days ago it was almost in the 80s. And the day before that, there was snow... Read more

    16 hours, 26 minutes ago by   Vickilane
    CREATIVITY, PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Does GoDaddy Have Too Much Power?

    Does GoDaddy Have Much Power?

    It seems more and more domain owners are rebelling against the GoDaddy monopoly. Huge Domains also appears to be in the crosshairs of more angry domainers. Read more

    16 hours, 39 minutes ago by   Worldwide
    BUSINESS, TECH
  • Experience Burma Here…

    Experience Burma Here…

    Burma Burma is one of the newest outlet in the city catering to Burmese food lover. The outlet is located in Indiranagar just opposite to Glocal. Read more

    16 hours, 40 minutes ago by   Rohit Dassani
    DINING OUT, FOOD & DRINK
  • Our Kind of Cruelty – Araminta Hall

    Kind Cruelty Araminta Hall

    Psychological Thriller5*s Verity and Mike are an example of a classic love story. They met at university, fell in love and then seven years later,... Read more

    17 hours, 25 minutes ago by   Cleopatralovesbooks
    BOOKS, CULTURE
  • Opera Review: A Piece of Fairy Cake

    Opera Review: Piece Fairy Cake

    Joyce DiDonato sings a radiant Cendrillon at the Met. by Paul J. Pelkonen The lighting department: Joyce DiDonata as Cinderella in Massenet's Cendrillon.Photo b... Read more

    17 hours, 56 minutes ago by   Superconductor
    CULTURE, THEATRE & OPERA
  • Lizi's Granola Scones

    Lizi's Granola Scones

    This coming Monday will be Saint George's Day. All of the beautiful countries in the United Kingdom have a Patron Saint and the Patron Saint of England (where... Read more

    19 hours, 26 minutes ago by   Mariealicerayner
    FOOD & DRINK, RECIPES

Magazines