5.4.3  Adopter categories

Adopters are defined as categories of individuals within a social system on the basis of how innovative they are. The categories of adopters are usually considered to be innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards.

  1. Innovators — innovators are the first individuals to adopt an innovation.
  2. Early adopters — this is the second fastest category of individuals who adopt an innovation.
  3. Early majority — individuals in this category adopt an innovation after a varying degree of time. This time of adoption is significantly longer than the innovators and early adopters.
  4. Late majority — individuals in this category will adopt an innovation after the average member of their society. These individuals approach an innovation with a high degree of scepticism and after the majority of their society has adopted the innovation.
  5. Laggards — individuals in this category are the last to adopt an innovation.
A mother and child sleeping under their new bed net.
Figure 5.5  Some people are keen to try out new ideas. This family is happy to try out their new bed net. In their village they are innovators. (Photo: UNICEF Ethiopia/Indrias Getachew)
  • Before you go any further think about your own position as an adopter. Do you tend to be at the front of the crowd? Or are you last? Don’t limit yourself to health matters. Try to think more broadly.

  • People are different as we know! Although most people tend to be generally in one category or in overlapping categories it is possible to be a very different sort of adopter depending on their interests. For example, you may be an early adopter in relation to health, as clearly that is one of your passions. But perhaps you lag behind others when it comes to technology?

When it comes to innovation there is also one other category of person who is very important — opinion leaders. These are people in a given community who are influential in spreading either positive or negative information about an innovation.

  • Who are the usual opinion leaders in your community?

  • The opinion leaders in your community might be the leaders of the church or village elders or politically influential people. As a Health Extension Practitioner people might look to you to be an opinion leader also – especially about health issues.

5.4.2  Rate of adoption

Summary of Study Session 5