Early Adopters (13.5%): These people are considered influential leaders whose opinions are respected. Early adopters are typically well-educated; have attained a higher social status; possess more financial lucidity; have and are more socially active than late adopters are. They are more discerning in their adoption choices than innovators are, but are still willing to take a chance on any type of training, tools or equipment that will help their daily operation.
Early Majority (34%): Individuals in this group will normally implement something new into their shop but only after the innovators and early adopters have set the table. They're willing to accept change, but wary and unwilling to take chances, in most cases. They usually possess above average social status, and many of their friends, colleagues and associates are early adopters, but they rarely hold positions of opinion leadership in a system. For example, innovators and early adopters hold office in collision industry trade organizations, while early majority people are just happy to be members. They're willing to participate, but don't want to lead.
Late Majority (34%): People in this category will adopt an innovation, but only after almost everyone else has. These individuals will approach an innovation with a considerable amount of skepticism. They will wait for all of the others to use a piece of equipment, management system or tool for a while and get some feedback before acting, but suffer from waiting as a result. Late majority people usually have below average social status; limited financial lucidity and possess very little opinion leadership. These people are still on the fence about things like OE certifications, plastic welders and even sophisticated measuring systems, but can be persuaded with solid information.
Laggards (16%): Individuals in this category are the last to adopt any innovation and proud of it in many cases. Showing little or no opinion leadership, laggards will typically fight change at every opportunity and tend to be 50 or older in age. They love to call themselves "old school" and likely have the lowest social status from anyone on this list with the lowest financial fluidity and the least education. Laggards are still using outdated tools; don't value training and think social media is still for soccer moms and teenage girls and that's why they're likely not in the top 20% of all shops in this country.
Curtis Nixon was a second-generation shop owner who was been an innovator his entire life. In 2009, he sold his family's shop and founded UpdatePromise, a leading communication and technology provider to auto insurers, repairers and dealerships throughout North America. In the last eight years, UpdatePromise has grown at a tremendous rate and communicates with millions of consumers and services throughout the United States.
Nixon has seen the industry change through innovation at a lightning fast rate, and has also encountered many of the people in each of these categories. The percentages will always change as people gravitate toward or step away from technology, but technology is unavoidable, he explained.
"The paradigm is shifting and more and more consumers are starting to use technology in every interaction they make," Nixon said. "At first, it was all about entertainment and people connecting with family and friends through social media. That was the starting point of a major shift. Initially, it was primarily younger people connecting via sites like MySpace, but then it migrated to Facebook and now we have more than 60% of the people in this country with a profile on a social media site."
Are more laggards becoming early adopters or vice versa? "We're seeing a huge change in the consumers' adoption rate of technology, but we still encounter what we call 'legacy employees' who are still reluctant about change 'and holding onto the past. Business is run by technology and there isn't any disconnection or loss of that personal approach when people use it, because that's what they actually want. Sometimes our customers will tell us they think they can do something better without using the technology. They're still attached to their paperwork and their notes and they pick up the phone and call their customers rather than use the technology that is available to them. The problem they run into is that their customers are moving faster than they are and they can't keep up."