Innovation in business is very important, but most important is developing a product/service consumers are willing to buy. Over the years, many products with innovative features have failed, not because they are not good, in fact, most times, they bring more to the market than existing products. Unfortunately, consumers end up avoiding them leading to over 70-90% of innovation failures and eventual withdrawal of such product from the market. Examples like Microsoft Windows Vista, Apple’s Newton PDA, the Concorde supersonic airplane etc reminds us that not everything innovative finds a market. Some of them actually came into the market when consumers were not ready for such innovation.
Entrepreneurs with new products or services want customers to adopt it and get maximum satisfaction from using them. However, entrepreneurs often face the challenge of convincing customers to move from an existing product where they derive satisfaction, to a new one which its utility is not certain.
Here are some reasons customers may resist your new offerings.
1. Your products bring too much change
Change is good, but customers don’t always appreciate it when a product is bringing too much change to their lifestyle. For instance, Coca Cola’s attempt to change the original taste of coke was met with resistance. When consumers feel very comfortable with an existing product, they can go to any length to resist any attempt to change it especially when such a change will affect other areas of their lives. This resistance comes as a result of consumers being satisfied with their current situation, and see no reason to change. Habits that have been developed while using a particular product are difficult to do away with. Any product that requires a change in behaviour will likely experience resistance.
2. Innovations with the wrong technology
Many businesses apply the wrong technology in their market. In Nigeria, when it comes to telecoms, GSM is the way to go. Over 90% of subscribers use it, and it is the preferred network in the world. For companies that came into Nigeria with CDMA technology - Starcomms, Multi-links etc, it wasn’t a favourable market for them. Technology has seasons and regions where they are most appreciated. E-retailers in Nigeria observed that insisting on shoppers buying and paying online alone may not give them the desired result; they decided to introduce ‘Pay-on-delivery.’ This act is building confidence in people to use the technology. The right technology must be one that fits into a people’s lifestyle, values and norms. Every technology introduced into a business must be compatible with the desires of the consumers.
3. Innovations that are too complex
Keep it simple. Innovation is all about simplifying life. Innovative products are those that are useful to consumers, and are easy to use. Years back, the long process of registering on a website puts off many people, but today, with your social media accounts, it looks seamless. Consumers are always reluctant to go for innovative products that are complex to use, complicated and confusing. If you can’t keep it simple, it’s not good enough.
Consumers’ resistance of a product doesn’t mean a failure, but it points out the need for entrepreneurs to pay more attention to the needs of the market. Bringing a technology that consumers are not familiar with, and the risk level cannot easily be ascertained will create an air of doubt in the consumers. If the resistance is allowed to prolong, it leads to rejection and eventual product failure.