Professor Steve Yoo and his colleagues at the UCL School of Management; Yufei Huang, Bilal Gokpinar, and Chris Tang, discovered that consumers are anxious about new technology and only feel comfortable adopting it when they see that their friends have.
Yoo said: “When deciding whether to adopt an innovative product or service, consumers often experience different levels of anxiety and nervousness which can make them resist a purchase.”
Perhaps this trend is apparent when we consider older members of the public. However, given the sheer rate in which we as a society appear to adopt new technologies, these findings are, arguably, surprising.
Despite this, the research suggests that actively advertising new technology can hurt sales revenues.
While existing studies on the issue of social learning have examined cases where consumers were unsure about the value of a new innovative product, UCL considered the cases where consumers were reluctant to purchase because they experienced psychological anxiety over adoption.
Yoo added: “This includes fear of learning new technologies or disruption of their established habits. In such cases, consumer’s anxiety is affected by external influences. For example, an anxious consumer who is initially reluctant to use Uber may become more comfortable adopting it after seeing people they know use it.”
The future of advertising
Most companies will want to promote their new technology to consumers. However, the research suggests that profit will be negatively affected when innovations make people nervous. Using marketing to get people to start using it straight away, in this instance, may be detrimental to the success of the product.
The study shows that adoption rates will be higher when a core focus is on reducing the consumer anxiety in the early stages of a product launch.
To reduce consumer anxiety the report recommends that organisations should prioritise helping consumers to familiarise themselves with the new product, this can include things like; offering free trials, training videos or allowing easy access to products via showrooms and experience centres