Whenever I hear the terms ‘innovators’, or ‘early adopters’, I get a bit excited. I’d love to be thought of as a person who fits into one of these two categories. And I dread the idea of being marked down by some market researcher as part of the ‘late majority ‘or ‘laggards’.
I guess it’s to do with one’s personality, and acceptance of a level of risk. And clearly there is a bit of a risk in buying something which has only just come on the market. You may find yourself at the ‘bleeding edge ‘as opposed to the ‘leading edge’. But in my experience this very rarely happens. The reason being that if something goes wrong with the product or service it’s usually under warranty and in most consumer societies the rules and regulations are heavily stacked in favour of the customer.
More than that, the company that launches a new product is desperately keen to make a success of it. And that means dealing as effectively as possible with any teething problems that arise. Indeed it’s well known that problems strike every brand and it’s all to do with how well they recover. In fact a really impressive solution to a difficulty can create lasting loyalty from the customer who has been well served.
A personal example is Nest, which is a technology that enables you to control your central heating remotely, so you can make sure your house is warm when you get home. We had a little difficulty initially but the engineer resolved the matter quickly and we haven’t had any issues since. The same applies to our DoorBird which lets you see on your mobile phone who’s at the front door before you open it, and you can talk to them if you’re out so a delivery can be left in a safe place rather than having to go to the post office to collect it.
The reality is that many new products turn out to be great. And there’s huge satisfaction to be gained from having spotted a winner early. You find yourself championing the product or service to your friends and acquaintances and you can even become an evangelist for those that really perform well. For example, there’s a new start-up in the UK called ‘Bulb’ which is a utility switching site that actually lives up to its claims of ease-of-use and achievement of better value. Their whole business model is based upon personal referral and we have recommended Bulb to at least four other households.
And of course the sooner you buy a new product that works really well the longer the benefit you get from using it. Ever since we experienced an under-sink food waste disposal machine at someone else’s house we’ve made the investment in having one of our own in two successive homes. Years ago we had to have a heart-to-heart with some very close friends with whom we used to stay for the weekend. At that time, and it was only about 15 years ago, they didn’t have an automatic dishwasher… In vino veritas we jested that we seem to spend an awful lot of time at the kitchen sink and the next time we visited, low and behold a shiny new machine was under the worktop. She thanked me effusively for persuading her husband to buy it and he’d never been happier being released from his post-meal drudgery.
Right now I feel the same about the whole recycling business. Our local Council requires four different bins to deal with general waste, plastics, paper and card, and glass – we pay separately for garden waste which goes on another bag. Knowing this was the case, we designed our new kitchen to accommodate precisely the sizes of the boxes provided by the Council. This enabled us to hide away these unattractive items. All was well for the first year, then the Council changed its policy, and the sizes of its boxes. So our very expensive allocation of kitchen units was disrupted completely. I can’t wait for the time when we can be early adopters of a ReCircle machine, liberate valuable cupboard space, escape from the vagaries of council recycling policies, and ensure that our waste doesn’t go to waste.
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