A Conceptual Model for Adoption and Diffusion Process of a New Product and an Eagerly Wanted Product
28 Pages Posted: 5 May 2002
Date Written: August 23, 2001
In the past several years, researchers have started to notice successful products whose sales patterns show rapidly declining diffusion patterns. These products include certain movies, computer software, TV game software, music CDs, etc. (e.g., Windows95 (up grade version), Final Fantasy, Terminator 2; Sawhney and Eliashberg 1996, Yamada et al. 1997, Moe and Fader 1998). These declining diffusion patterns have been rather neglected in the field of marketing (Bass 1969) because they were regarded as being peculiar to unsuccessful products, even though before Bass (1969), Fourt and Woodlock (1960) predicted first purchases of grocery products by an exponential model and in theory Lekvall and Wahlbin (1973) raised the possibility of various diffusion patterns from a bell-shaped one (logistic model) to a rapidly declining one (modified exponential model) using a mixed model similar to the Bass diffusion model. Also after Bass (1969), Gatignon and Robertson (1985) discussed the same possibility with 29 propositions. Generally speaking, however, there were no such studies that include rapidly declining diffusion patterns until recently except for the above studies (e.g., Sawhney and Eliashberg 1996; Yamada et al. 1997; Moe and Fader 1998).
However, the relative importance of the entertainment industry or contents industry and IT-related industry has become greater due to the growth of the "networked" society. We believe that it is time to take a closer look at these products showing rapidly declining diffusion patterns from product classification and diffusion theory points of view. Establishing a conceptual model of adoption and diffusion process of a new product, we proposed the third "high involvement" adoption model. We call such a product as an eagerly wanted product and define it as anything that can be offered to a market to satisfy an eager want or need.
Then we establish operational hypotheses to test the conceptual hypothesis that an eagerly wanted product should take a rapidly declining diffusion pattern from the beginning. We tested the following operational hypotheses on sales patterns of 254 new popular music CDs including albums and singles sold in one of the national chains of convenience stores in Japan. Common practice of music CD consumers in Japan is that they first rent single CDs and then buy albums.
H1: A popular music album CD is an eagerly wanted product, that is, its diffusion pattern is rapidly declining.
H2: The fraction of rapidly declining diffusion patterns for album CDs is greater than that for single CDs.
H3: Sales pattern of a new singer's debut single CD does not take a rapidly declining diffusion pattern.
H4: The sales pattern of a debut single of a new group or a singer produced through a well-designed process is a rapidly declining one.
We also tested sales patterns of new products of beer and low malt liquor as additional evidence to H2 and H3, because new beer products may be anticipated through promotional efforts but may not be awaited as eagerly as CD albums. We obtained favorable results on all four hypotheses.
As an implication of this study, a set of strategies for product development and introduction for an eagerly wanted product is proposed:
(1) One should let consumers be involved from the development stage (the outset); for example
(a) the ASAYAN project of TV Tokyo (see Section 4.2); (b) the use of famous artists, movie stars, and directors; (c) creating a series etc.
(2) Before the introduction of a new product, its promotion and publicity should be done as intensively and widely as possible in the target market. Use media mix, etc.
(3) The initial price should be set at the most reasonable level possible or free if possible.
(4) To obtain a large potential market quickly, make as many business alliances as possible.
Keywords: Innovation diffusion process, Product classification, Diffusion pattern classification, Popular music CDs
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