Speed of Adoption: Comparing Two New Products

Two products that are part of everyday life today are microwave ovens and DVD players. But they were adopted by the market at quite different speeds. DVD players became popular within a few years, yet microwave ovens faced significant market resistance and took decades to get adopted. Your challenge is to determine why this was the case.



The first commercially available microwave ovens appeared in the USA in the mid-1960s, but it wasn’t until the mid-1980s that they became a common household purchase. This compares quite unfavorably to DVD players that were adopted by the market very quickly.

Start this exercise by completing the following table:

 Product Factors Influencing Speed of Adoption




Microwave oven

DVD Player

As compared to:


Traditional ovens

VCR Player

Did the new product complete the required task in a superior manner?
  1. Much
  2. Somewhat
  3. Not really
Was the new product compatible with existing lifestyles?
  1. Very
  2. Somewhat
  3. Not really
Was the new product complex to use (for first-time users)?
  1. Simple
  2. OK
  3. Complex
Could consumers easily trial the product?
  1. Easily
  2. Sometimes
  3. Difficult
Did consumers often see the product in use (e.g. at friend’s homes)
  1. Often
  2. Sometimes
  3. Never
Was the product expensive to purchase and maintain (when it was first released)?
  1. Affordable
  2. Some cost
  3. Expensive



  1. Based on your responses in the above table, what were the key product factors that can help differentiate the adoption performance of these two products?
  2. Given the likely ‘social environment’ at the time, why do you think that microwave ovens faced significant market resistance after their launch in the 1960’s and early 1970’s?
  3. What other factors can you think of that may have also influenced the different in these products’ speed of adoption?
  4. Given your answers above, what could the marketers of microwave ovens have done to try and speed up the market acceptance of their innovative new product?