You can probably think of a
thousand things that affect your decision of whether or not you will buy something, such as your general need, urgency, and money available. When you have your own or are involved in someone else’s business, it is always useful to have frameworks and checklists that help you understand your offering and customer behavior.
This article helps you understand how likely it is that your potential customers will buy from you and how you can develop products/services that people are more likely to buy.
Rogers and his 5 attributes
Everett Rogers, an American professor of communication and sociology, wrote about Diffusion of Innovations and provided lots of useful insights into the characteristics of innovations and people’s behavior that influence the adoption of an innovation.
His argument that certain attributes of a product/service will increase the speed of its adoption (that is, they will make people buy) became widely used in both theory and practice, and they are still taught to business students and managers around the world.
The 5 attributes of a product/service that will make people buy it are:
- Relative advantage
- Low complexity
Relative advantage refers to the product’s value for customers compared to the value of existing and previous solutions. In other words, people are more likely to buy your product if your product is better (for example its design and price-performance relationship) than the product they have (or haven’t) been using so far.
Compatibility is not only about how well the technology of the product fits the technology of other products in the potential customer’s system. It is also about how well the product fits the existing values, views, and experiences of the potential customers. For example, some users may value sustainability and therefore buy your product instead of other products even if they were cheaper. Also by positioning the product right for your target customers (like coming up with a good/suitable name), you will increase your chances for success.
Complexity refers to the ease of understanding and using the product. Customer education and product design help reduce complexity. Design, however, doesn’t mean so much how beautiful the product is but how user-friendly it is. Steve Jobs once said: “It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.“
Trialability, or testability, allows potential customers to run trials and test the product before they buy it. This is very useful for any customer especially if your product is expensive. The more expensive your product is, the more likely a potential buyer wants to test it before making a decision of whether to buy it. Showrooms, test drives, and free trials for a short period of time are good ways to increase trialability.
Observability refers to what extent the results of someone using the product are visible to others. By using testimonials, product reviews, and demonstrations, observability can be increased. Observability also increases through word-of-mouth communication.
Selling, or making people buy your product is one of the most difficult tasks in a business. Roger’s 5 attributes that affect people’s decision about whether or not to buy are a useful tool for analyzing how people might react to your offering.
These attributes can also be linked to the 5 different groups of people/organizations that show different behaviors towards the adoption of innovations. You can read more about these groups here.
Rogers, E. 2003. Diffusion of Innovations, 5th ed., Free Press, New York, NY.