Consumer Resistance to Innovations: the Marketing Problem and Its Solutions

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Consumer resistance to innovations: the marketing problem and its solutions This article describes the major barriers which create customer resistance to innovations. This understanding is important because of the high rate of new product failure. A major cause for this is consumer resistance, although consumers are pro-innovation. It’s a normal, instinctive response of customers. This article suggests marketing strategies to overcome these barriers.

Innovation resistance can appear in customers because it disrupts their established routines and they can be happy with the current status quo. The higher the discontinuity of an innovation, the higher the resistance is likely to be. Also, consumers have their own belief structure. An innovation can conflict with this which can results in resistance.

There are various characteristics of innovation resistance. First, there are different groups regarding to the timing of adoption of an innovation (Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority and Laggards). Second, resistance varies in degree; (1) inertia (they may feel disinclined to adopt the innovation), (2) active resistance, (3) very active resistance. Third, resistance is influenced by the degree of change/discontinuity and/ or the extent to which it conflicts with consumer’s belief structure.

There are two kinds of barriers which create consumer resistance. The article gives some explanation how to undo these barriers:

1. Functional barriers
Usage barrier: the most common reason for customer resistance to an innovation is that it’s not compatible with existing workflows, practices or habits. The more existing habits have to change, the more the resistance will be. UNDO: develop a systems perspective to market the innovation. The innovating firm has to estimate how its new product will fit into the existing system, by looking at the whole operation. A second strategy is to integrate the innovation into the preceding activity or product....
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