the late-adoption tree

Trendspotting. It's a lucrative business, with material implications for anyone making a living off design and its family-tree of applied consumer goods and services, durable and non-. It used to be that consumer insight specialists watched early adopters, people who are first on the uptake of anything new to the market.

No longer, reports Wall Street Journal staffer Charlie Wells. Warpspeed development and roll-out cycles--such as the barrage of new Apple iPhone products introduced to the market with the pomp and frequency of New York's annual Fashion Week festivities--have changed who it is consumer trends observers need to observe to tell which way the wind will blow. Wells writes:

Late adopters are emerging as an untapped marketing force, with important things to tell companies about the role new products should play. Because they tend to be highly critical, late adopters can be useful to companies perfecting their wares.

In a 2015 study published in the Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, Ms. Jahanmir and a co-author outlined their “Lag-User Method,” a seven-step process for cultivating product ideas from late adopters.

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