Marketing in the wine business, the mainstream adoptive curve… Take this one to the board room with you

Once I understood this one, my marketing efforts became a lot easier…

The wine business was founded by farmers. This group of people are basically scientists. They use the left (logical and repetitive based on history) side of their brains. “Prove it and I’ll use it,” is their axiom.

Now, imagine someone who comes along who is right brained (intuitive and creative), and that person wants to convince a farmer that the latest, innovative technology is going to help the farmer sell his products. “Prove it and I’ll use it” will still be the chant.

Imagine the frustration of the intuitive person, who needs the product to be used, in order to “Prove it.”

The adoption process of a new idea happens this way:

Innovators – They’re the first to adopt. They’re eager risk takers. These people tend to be younger and well educated. They also have many contacts outside of their immediate social group, and rely on other innovators for their ideas, rather than sales people. (3 to 5 percent)

Early adopters – They’re well respected by their peers (they are the “Joneses”), and are most likely opinion leaders. They’re probably younger, more mobile, and more creative than most people. They have fewer contacts with the outside world than innovators, and are the ones who are the first to “get” what an innovator has brought forth. (10 to 15 percent)

Early majority – They avoid risks altogether. They cautiously wait to consider a new idea only after many early adopters have proven it to be successful. (They are the ones who are keeping up with the “Joneses”). These are not the opinion leaders, they’re the followers. (34 percent)

Late majority – They’re cautious about new ideas, quite possibly older and set in their ways. They’re less likely to understand innovators, and less likely to follow the early adopters. They need strong acceptance within their own group before they’d ever consider keeping up with the Joneses. (34 percent)

Laggards – They rely on what they’ve always done, and are very suspicious of any new idea. They also rely on other laggards for their new ideas, which means they move at the speed of a snail. (5 to 16 percent)

I was just reminded of this psyche phenomenon, as my friend Paul Mabray of VinTank was voicing his frustration on Facebook:

One of the most frustrating parts of my job – talking to industry people & their inability to grasp using the internet beyond a website.

I had a similar frustration when I arrived in the business 18 years ago. I had come from a radio background, and I understood the power of radio’s persuasion for any concept, including musical riffs for making people become enraptured with rhythms and lyrics. But… to get any wine business executive to understand that radio could be used to tell their stories? Where to begin?

Today, there are outlets, like pod casts and Website radio people, like my friends Mike Horn of CRN radio and Lynn Krielow Chamberlain of iWineRadio… But, it’s still a rare use. There are so many wine professionals missing the boat…

Yeah… I know Paul’s frustration so well. Now, at least I comfort myself with the above demographic for how people come to adopt anything new, and know that there’s a psychology behind it all.

Here’s what I wrote to Paul as a lead in:

I once thought to myself, “It’s a good thing old people die off” (myself included in this thought process, because I doubt that I’ll ever use a Kindle, and I’m okay with dying ;^).

Here’s the breakdown [above], and you can always thank innovators and the early adopters. They’re the ones you don’t have to convince of anything. And, in many ways, they convince others… So, get a few endorsements from them, because they act as your sales advocates for anything… They’re already on board and they’re jazzed.

When you’re similarly frustrated, keep this list handy. It helps a lot…
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7 Responses to “Marketing in the wine business, the mainstream adoptive curve… Take this one to the board room with you”

  1. Sondra says:

    Thanks for the great article and reminder to trust the few innovators we may have for an idea, not to write them off as ‘not enough’ but to see them as the visionaries to help promote an ‘orphan’ unknown idea. Just what I needed today.

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Innovators are most often seen as off the wall people, and completely disregarded, until they come up with some scientific algorithm on the end of some study to satisfy the skeptics. If they don’t forge forward (and I wonder how many people have abandoned “good ideas,” because no one showed interest and/or support) great ideas are easily lost.

    Fortunately, most innovators are visionaries, and go forward regardless, because they know… they just know, Sondra.

  3. Paul Mabray says:

    Being an innovator/visionary is a dual edged sword. It is both a fulfilling exercise when you invent and a frustrating exercise when you spend a career convincing people the truth until finally it becomes self evident. As I say being a visionary is seeing the reality today and having the patience for everyone else to catch up.

  4. Bruce Bieber says:

    “Drink Wine and Learn Something, It’s Like College All Over Again.”

  5. Paul Rickett says:

    Think it’s only fair that you should give credit to Geoffrey Moore who coined all those categories in his 1991 book “Crossing the Chasm” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossing_the_Chasm). This became one of the marketing ‘bibles’ of the high tech industry in the 90s.

    Another neat representation of product adoption stages is the Gartner “Hype Cycle” (http://www.gartner.com/technology/research/methodologies/hype-cycle.jsp). I think it is possibly more descriptive of user experience.

  6. Jo Diaz says:

    Thanks for adding your comment, Paul. When I studied this one in my business marketing, it never presented who was responsible… just hat it existed. I also never curious about its origin, just jazzed that it exists.

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