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SaaS: Quick Guide to the Product Adoption Curve!

Know your audience. This has been a nugget of wisdom passed down for decades now, for a good reason. If you do not have an intimate understanding of who your ideal customer is, you are destined to fail. However, knowing your audience won’t be enough. You have to convince them that your product has value to increase your product adoption. You need to understand the product adoption curve.

In this quick guide, we will explain what you need to know about product adoption and the production adoption curve. Understanding these aspects of SaaS marketing will propel your growth to new heights. 

Product Adoption Definition 

Before we get into the product adoption curve itself, you need to get familiar with the product adoption definition. 

It involves helping the users of your product or service to see the value they have, while habitually using it. There are four stages to product adoption. They are: 

  • Awareness 
  • Interest 
  • Evaluation 
  • Conversion 

You may be overly focused on metrics like how many users have signed up to use your product or how many daily users it has. When looked at individually, these do not give a clear understanding of whether people have success with using your product in their daily lives. You are not sure if your product has become an indispensable tool for them. 

Genuine product adoption occurs when there is so much value in your product that it is not worth it for users to drop it and move over to another one. This is part of why you need to have both incoming users in mind, as well as existing ones. This is why adding new features and making enhancements to your product should always be on your mind.

With over 200 million SaaS cloud workloads installed in 2018, you have a tremendous amount of competition, requiring you to keep innovating to retain and attract customers. SaaS is a $116 billion market, so you cannot afford to slack on this. 

When you understand the product adoption definition clearly, you know your audience clearly. This will ensure your product lifecycle is smooth. 

product adoption curve

What Is the Product Adoption Curve? 

Now that you understand what product adoption means, we will shift over to the product adoption curve. Essentially, this is a model that shows you who is buying your products and when they are doing so. This model helps you take the data you have regarding product adoption and pan out to see the big picture. The product adoption curve looks at the lifecycle of a product and identifies what is going on at different points within it. 

The product adoption curve can be split up into five phases. These are: 

  • Innovators 
  • Early Adoptors 
  • Early Majority 
  • Late Majority 
  • Laggards 

The specific amount of time that each phase lasts varies, so we will look at the phases, or stages, themselves. 

1. Innovators 

The very first people to jump into using a product are the innovators. These people are a special group of users who are head over heels when it comes to SaaS. They are always looking for the freshest and latest in SaaS development. 

Since the product adoption curve is a bell curve, it means innovators comprise a small percentage of the total uses of a product over the lifecycle. This is to be expected and completely normal. When you are seeing just a few sales trickling in right after launching, you don’t have to worry. It’s typical for new products to sales hovering around 2.5% when a product is in the innovator stage. 

2. Early Adopters 

Soon enough, you will see your sales start to rise steadily. Your conversion rate will be increasing continuously. This is when you know you are in the early adopter phase. These are users who get ahead of the curve like innovators. They are looking to experiment with a product and are like explorers navigating the SaaS world. 

They may have actually already known about the product when it was in the innovator stage. However, they may have purposely waited to jump in on it. This is one of the ways they differ from innovators, who will jump head-first into a product. Early adopters want to see some data on the efficacy of a product before they get on board. The usual sales percentage for this phase is 13.5%. 

3. Early Majority 

When a product enters the early majority phase, it has gained traction and is seeing plenty of sales. People have now seen early adopters successfully use a product and jump in on the action. The product now is seen as having proven its value, so it’s a safe investment. This propels sales through the roof. Sales are around 34% in this phase. 

Towards the end of the early majority stage, the top of the bell curve is reached. This means the product is peaking. What comes next begins the decline of the product adoption curve. 

4. Late Majority 

At this stage, a product has been out and used for a considerable amount of time. Its use is widespread, yet there were still people out there who were not convinced that it was worth using. These people make up the late majority phase and beyond. The product adoption rate for this phase is the same as the one before it, which is around 34%. 

5. Laggards 

This final stage of the product adoption curve comes after all the buzz surrounding a product has turned practically silent. Laggards are late to the party, sometimes by several years. The people who get in this late are usually people who are highly skeptical of new products. Also, they may have just been entirely unaware that it existed until now. 

There is a sizable portion of sales occurring within this stage. With 16% of product adoption happening here, it can be surprising that there are more laggards than innovators. 

Wrapping Up 

Now that you have a better understanding of the product adoption curve, you can know what to expect throughout the lifecycle of your product. When you know this, you know your customers, helping you to serve them better. Within every phase of the curve, you need to get users excited to use your product. This can help propel your product success beyond what you would have expected. 


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