What Is Early Majority?

The terms "early majority" refers to the first sizable segment of a population to adopt an innovative offering. The early majority represents approximately 34% of the overall population and tends to embrace new products only after observing "innovators" and "early adopters" they personally know enjoy such new-to-market goods.

Individuals in the early majority tend to be less affluent and less technologically educated than innovators but are willing to take a chance on new products, after witnessing others do so first.

Key Takeaways

  • "Early majority" is a term that refers to the first major segment of a population to widely adopt an innovative new product.
  • The early majority refers to about 34% of the overall population.
  • The early majority tends to cautiously embrace a new product after they observe a more enthusiastic set of consumers, known as "innovators," take the plunge first.

Understanding Early Majority and Innovative Adoption

Companies often rely on a concept known as the Diffusion of Innovation (DOI) Theory, developed by E.M. Rogers in 1962, to evaluate how long it will take at least 50% of the population to adopt a new product. Under this theory, innovation adoption populations are siloed into the following five segments:

  1. Innovators. These people are eager to be the first to try out an innovative item.
  2. Early adopters. These consumers represent opinion leaders, who buy products after innovators.
  3. Early majority. These people are seldom leaders, but do adopt new ideas well before the average person.
  4. Late majority. These individuals are skeptical of change.
  5. Laggards. These people are bound by tradition and are consequently the hardest to convert into customers.

While innovators and early adopters tend to try out new products quickly, the early majority needs more time to feel comfortable enough with the technology, in order to commit to making a purchase.

Consider this real-life historical example: On June 19, 2007, Apple rolled out the first iPhone, with a relatively high price tag of $600. Two months later, Apple lowered the price to $400. And in June of 2009, the price again dropped, to $200. By that time, the latest iteration of the iPhone offered twice the storage as the original.

But despite the inevitable price drops and product improvements, in 2007, innovators and early adopters camped out in front of Apple stores in droves, just so they could be early to get their hands on the new tech.

By contrast, early majorities were more inclined to wait for cheaper version of the product, which they reluctantly bought only after seeing innovators and early adopters embrace the technology.

Just like the early majority, the late majority, which is the fourth major group of consumers to buy a new product, also represents 34% of a population.

Marketing to the Early Majority

When it comes to selling innovative new products, companies can more easily grab the attention of early adopters, than the early majority. While the former group is hardwired get excited over the prospect of trying new things, the latter group is generally more blasĂ© about new products—especially in the technology space.

But once these consumers finally take the plunge with a new product, they tend to become loyalists and purchase the same item over and over again.