Rogers and the French

Sunday, December 1, 2013, by Eliane Karsaklian

Rogers came up with the innovation adoption curve in 1983. He stated that innovations take time to penetrate a market because in any market there are five different types of consumers. The innovators, who represent 2,5% of the market and search for brand new products; the early adopters (13%), the first ones who give visibility to a new product buy consuming it; the early majority (34%), who turn the product into fashion; the late majority (34%), will “take the risk” of buying the product when it is no longer an innovation and the laggards (16,5%), who buy products that have been replaced by new ones in the market and will disappear shortly.

Just like consumers, some countries are more innovative than others. For example, the United States and China are more open to novelty, and new products are very quickly accepted and absorbed in these countries. They are more representative of innovators and early adopters.

European countries such as Germany, Italy and Eastern European are more inclined to behave as early majorities.

Then there is France, a Late Adopter country. Novelty is suspicious and innovations are often rejected by French consumers until the rest of the world adopts them. This reluctance in accepting what is new might be partly explained by the country’s high Uncertainty Avoidance Index (86%), as stated by Hofstede (2005). The French are all but risk takers. Thus innovations are tough to be implemented in the market.

While the French like to be different from the crowd (French exception), the market only accepts new products that were already adopted in other countries. This is one more contradiction in this ambiguous culture.

This illustrates the difference between difference and novelty. The French like to be different from other countries, but are suspicious of new products.