But who are early adopters?
“Early adopters are willing to make a mistake, just as good persuaders are willing to be rejected,” explains Daniel Pink, a bestselling author of four books, including When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing and To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others.
What drives them? “Novelty,” Pink says, “which both neuroscience and psychology have shown is a powerful motivator. They crave novelty. But they also probably want influence and attention.” That openness makes early adopters inherently important to inventors and innovators since they’re willing to try out a new product or service — and give their feedback.
“Industries, companies and individuals can all be early adopters,” points out Rachel Carpenter, head of insights and design strategy at Citi FinTech. Carpenter notes that “early adopters see themselves as very sociable and have an insatiable curiosity about how to better manage their lives through technology — especially when it comes to personal finances.” These findings came through in the Smarter Connections Research Study in which Citi polled global attitudes toward digital financial tools.
When smartphones hit the market, manufacturers actively sought out critiques from the phones’ early adopters to make the software more user-friendly. Your techie-trendsetter cousin who waited in line for that first smartphone? She’s a key reason why smartphones are now so intuitive and so widespread. And this early adopter role isn’t new: Benjamin Franklin has been widely credited with inventing bifocal glasses, but some now believe that he was actually an early adopter who helped improve and popularize the lenses, with his famous appearance spreading word of the new innovation.