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New Product Diffusion with Influentials and Imitators

Christophe Van den Bulte
Yogesh V. Joshi
Journal / Anthology

Marketing Science
Year: 2007
Volume: 26
Issue: 3
Page range: 400-423

We model the diffusion of innovations in markets with two segments: influentials who are more in touch with new developments and who affect another segment of imitators whose own adoptions do not affect the influentials. This two-segment structure with asymmetric influence is consistent with several theories in sociology and diffusion research, as well as many "viral" or "network" marketing strategies. We have four main results. (1) Diffusion in a mixture of influentials and imitators can exhibit a dip or "chasm" between the early and later parts of the diffusion curve. (2) The proportion of adoptions stemming from influentials need not decrease monotonically, but may first decrease and then increase. (3) Erroneously specifying a mixed-influence model to a mixture process where influentials act independently from each other can generate systematic changes in the parameter values reported in earlier research. (4) Empirical analysis of 33 different data series indicates that the two-segment model fits better than the standard mixed-influence, the Gamma/Shifted Gompertz, and the Weibull-Gamma models, especially in cases where a two-segment structure is likely to exist. Also, the two-segment model fits about as well as the Karmeshu-Goswami mixed-influence model, in which the coefficients of innovation and imitation vary across potential adopters in a continuous fashion.

*Business and Economics

asymmetric influence, diffusion of innovations, innovation, market segments, social contagion, social structure