Speed of New Product Adoption


new products, consumer behavior, speed of adoption, innovations

Review the activity below or download the PDF student worksheet

Student Worksheet: Speed of New Product Adoption

Student Discussion Activity

Two products that are now part of everyday life today are microwave ovens and smart TVs. But they were adopted by the market at quite different speeds.

Smart TVs 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 smart (internet-enabled) TVs that were adopted by the market relatively quickly.

Start this exercise by completing the following table:


Product Factors Influencing Speed of Adoption




Microwave Oven

Smart TVs

As compared to:

Traditional ovens

Traditional TVs

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

 Student Discussion Questions

  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?

Related Activities

Who is an Innovator?

Improving the New Product Process

External Information

Microwave oven (Wikipedia)

Smart TV (Wikipedia)