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In the field of innovation, intention does not mean adoption.

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Surveys must be treated with caution when determining whether an innovative product or service will actually be adopted by consumers. Complexity, for example, can be a significant barrier.

Many marketers rely on intention-to-purchase surveys of consumers to choose to market a product or service. However, according to a group of researchers at the University of Amsterdam, the data from these types of surveys are more than relative.

In their view, studies of the intention to adopt an innovation would reflect little of the actual percentage of purchases of these products. To reach such a conclusion, they compared the results of 77 studies of intention to purchase innovative products conducted between 1970 and 2007 based on consumer adoption of these products after they were marketed. Not only did the researchers find that the results sometimes turned out to be completely different, but they were also able to determine the criteria that do or do not affect a product's purchase intentions and adoption.

Complexity and uncertainties

To do this, the researchers tried to compare for each of the studies the distinctive features of the products (complexity, advantages...) and the socio-demographic (age, sex, profession...) and psychographic (personality, values, interests...) criteria of the consumers questioned. This results in various data that could be of direct interest to marketers. First of all, with regard to the product: the complexity of the product, for example, would positively affect purchase intentions but negatively affect adoption.

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The same applies to the uncertainties associated with its commercialization. Indeed, the greater the uncertainties regarding its possible production and characteristics, the more people are inclined to buy it. As soon as the product in question is marketed, it is these uncertainties that prevent them from buying it.

Compatibility and Benefits

Also with respect to product features, the researchers determined that highlighting the benefits of the product obviously affected purchase intent and product adoption. More specifically, the compatibility of products with an individual's lifestyle and needs would be a real driver of purchase intent, while competitive advantages would be more important when it comes to purchasing the product. Finally, contrary to what marketers are used to seeing, the study states that demographic profiles have very little influence in terms of purchase intent and adoption.

Even though it states that individuals who are young and with a substantial income are obviously more inclined to buy a product. On the other hand, it specifies that psychographic characteristics should be much more taken into account by marketers.

(Sources: Letter from Atelier.net - 21 May 2012)

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