Two weeks ago, I stood on Forrester's mainstage at its 2015 Forum For Marketing Leaders in New York (see a few minutes of the speech below). There, I told an audience of hundreds of our clients about hyperadoption, a term that I'm amazed no one has coined before now. Get used to the word. Because it's the characteristic that will define the next 10 years of your personal and business experience. In fact, in our first report debuting the concept of hyperadoption — released the same day I stood on the stage — I claim that hyperadoption will cause the next 10 years to generate an order of magnitude more change in your life than the past 10 years did.

That's an audacious claim. Because the past 10 years gave you the smartphone and the tablet. But I mean it, and over the coming year, I intend to prove it in my research. 

Forrester clients can read the report, which synthesizes much of the work I've done over two decades, where I've had a front-row seat to the changes in how consumers adopt, such as the first consumer experiences in what was then known as the World Wide Web, including that very rare behavior known as online shopping. That experience, combined with the neuroscience research I've followed since my own days in the lab, has convinced me that the economics of digital disruption now allow people to bypass the ancient, loss-avoiding algorithms running in our heads that used to make us cautious of new things and now no longer do.

As I write in the report: 

  • The adoption of new things no longer costs what it used to. Being one of the first people on your block to buy a flat-screen TV in 2000 would have set you back more than $5,000. Although being one of the first people to trade stocks through E-Trade was cheaper than using a traditional brokerage, it came with uncertainties in the early years around process to which investors had to acclimate. These high costs prompted us to develop the Consumer Technographics segmentation nearly two decades ago — to help us predict the adoption curve of such innovations. The segmentation identifies the people whose literal costs are lower because they have more wealth or who are on the right half of the bell curve that measures sensitivity to loss aversion.

  • Marketers can now offer benefits that easily overcome loss aversion. Before digital disruption, the process of developing a new product idea was long and expensive. To maximize the chances of success, companies had to add even more costs to develop distribution relationships and build a brand. As costs were added, they were passed on to the consumer, casting a cold shadow over the launches of innovations like interactive TV, the Apple Newton, and TiVo. Now that the cost to develop a product experience is so low, companies pass fewer and fewer costs or tradeoffs on to the customer. Instead, the marketer can focus on offering benefits rather than rationalizing away the costs and inconveniences.

(Read the full report here.) The result is an environment where consumers are being offered an unprecedented array of exciting, interesting, and useful products and services, many of which are being given away at no or low cost, thus avoiding the triggers that would normally have caused us to put on the skeptical brakes, the brakes that used to explain why adoption was hard and slow.

There's much more to say about hyperadoption, and my research in the coming months will say it, presenting consumer data to show unprecedented consumer adoption as well as explanations of why hyperadoption leads to not only rapid adoption of new things but also simultaneous adoption of experiences as disparate as self-driving cars and innovations in personal health management. The result will be massive change — and massive opportunity. 


James McQuivey, Ph.D., is a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research and the author of the book Digital Disruption. He will keynote Forrester's Forum For Marketing Leaders 2015 in London this week to share more about hyperadoption.