The introduction phase starts with innovators
Marketers of new products seeking to gain traction for their offering are reliant upon a category of consumers that are classified as “innovators”. Innovators are consumers that are far less influenced by word-of-mouth for a particular product category. Typically innovators have a high level of interest in the product category and generally have a high level of expertise and confidence in their purchases.
For example, you may know people who are quite interested in technology and often seek out the latest innovations. This type of consumer will make decisions based upon their own thoughts and research and review, rather than being overly influenced by other consumers and their purchase activities.
As a result, innovators will trial (undertake an initial purchase) of a new product if they consider it to be of interest or have some additional features or benefits, relative to the existing product solution.
These innovators will form the initial sales volume and customer base of a new product in the introduction phase. Hopefully, for the marketing firm, over time these innovators will influence other consumers through some form of word-of-mouth that will eventually result in significant sales volumes for the new product.
One of the key challenges for the firm during the introduction phase, given the discussion above, is the limited level of sales. This occurs because only a small proportion of consumers – innovators – will trial/purchasing new product in its early stages. Because the firm has its normal cost of supporting a new product and has likely invested a significant amount in its development and launch, new products will be quite unprofitable in the introduction stage.