Drivers of technology substitution : successive generations of high tech products

Steffens, Paul R. & Kaya, Maria (2009) Drivers of technology substitution : successive generations of high tech products. In Gillin, L (Ed.) Proceedings of the 6th AGSE International Entrepreneurship Research Exchange, Swinburne University of Technology, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, S. Aust., pp. 965-966.


Principal Topic

High technology consumer products such as notebooks, digital cameras and DVD players are not introduced into a vacuum. Consumer experience with related earlier generation technologies, such as PCs, film cameras and VCRs, and the installed base of these products strongly impacts the market diffusion of the new generation products.

Yet technology substitution has received only sparse attention in the diffusion of innovation literature. Research for consumer durables has been dominated by studies of (first purchase) adoption (c.f. Bass 1969) which do not explicitly consider the presence of an existing product/technology. More recently, considerable attention has also been given to replacement purchases (c.f. Kamakura and Balasubramanian 1987). Only a handful of papers explicitly deal with the diffusion of technology/product substitutes (e.g. Norton and Bass, 1987: Bass and Bass, 2004). They propose diffusion-type aggregate-level sales models that are used to forecast the overall sales for successive generations. Lacking household data, these aggregate models are unable to give insights into the decisions by individual households - whether to adopt generation II, and if so, when and why.

This paper makes two contributions. It is the first large-scale empirical study that collects household data for successive generations of technologies in an effort to understand the drivers of adoption. Second, in comparision to traditional analysis that evaluates technology substitution as an ''adoption of innovation'' type process, we propose that from a consumer's perspective, technology substitution combines elements of both adoption (adopting the new generation technology) and replacement (replacing the generation I product with generation II). Based on this proposition, we develop and test a number of hypotheses.

Methodology/Key Propositions

In some cases, successive generations are clear ''substitutes'' for the earlier generation, in that they have almost identical functionality. For example, successive generations of PCs Pentium I to II to III or flat screen TV substituting for colour TV. More commonly, however, the new technology (generation II) is a ''partial substitute'' for existing technology (generation I). For example, digital cameras substitute for film-based cameras in the sense that they perform the same core function of taking photographs. They have some additional attributes of easier copying and sharing of images. However, the attribute of image quality is inferior. In cases of partial substitution, some consumers will purchase generation II products as substitutes for their generation I product, while other consumers will purchase generation II products as additional products to be used as well as their generation I product.

We propose that substitute generation II purchases combine elements of both adoption and replacement, but additional generation II purchases are solely adoption-driven process.

Extensive research on innovation adoption has consistently shown consumer innovativeness is the most important consumer characteristic that drives adoption timing (Goldsmith et al. 1995; Gielens and Steenkamp 2007). Hence, we expect consumer innovativeness also to influence both additional and substitute generation II purchases.

Hypothesis 1a) More innovative households will make additional generation II purchases earlier.

1 b) More innovative households will make substitute generation II purchases earlier.

1 c) Consumer innovativeness will have a stronger impact on additional generation II purchases than on substitute generation II purchases.

As outlined above, substitute generation II purchases act, in part like a replacement purchase for the generation I product. Prior research (Bayus 1991; Grewal et al 2004) identified product age as the most dominant factor influencing replacements. Hence, we hypothesise that:

Hypothesis 2: Households with older generation I products will make substitute generation II purchases earlier.

Our survey of 8,077 households investigates their adoption of two new generation products: notebooks as a technology change to PCs, and DVD players as a technology shift from VCRs.

We employ Cox hazard modelling to study factors influencing the timing of a household's adoption of generation II products. We determine whether this is an additional or substitute purchase by asking whether the generation I product is still used. A separate hazard model is conducted for additional and substitute purchases. Consumer Innovativeness is measured as domain innovativeness adapted from the scales of Goldsmith and Hofacker (1991) and Flynn et al. (1996). The age of the generation I product is calculated based on the most recent household purchase of that product. Control variables include age, size and income of household, and age and education of primary decision-maker.

Results and Implications

Our preliminary results confirm both our hypotheses. Consumer innovativeness has a strong influence on both additional purchases (exp = 1.11) and substitute purchases (exp = 1.09). Exp is interpreted as the increased probability of purchase for an increase of 1.0 on a 7-point innovativeness scale. Also consistent with our hypotheses, the age of the generation I product has a dramatic influence for substitute purchases of VCR/DVD (exp = 2.92) and a strong influence for PCs/notebooks (exp = 1.30). Exp is interpreted as the increased probability of purchase for an increase of 10 years in the age of the generation I product. Yet, also as hypothesised, there was no influence on additional purchases.

The results lead to two key implications. First, there is a clear distinction between additional and substitute purchases of generation II products, each with different drivers. Treating these as a single process will mask the true drivers of adoption. For substitute purchases, product age is a key driver. Hence, implications for marketers of high technology products can utilise data on generation I product age (e.g. from warranty or loyalty programs) to target customers who are more likely to make a purchase.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 26990
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Entrepreneurship, Technology, High Tech Products, Drivers
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Entrepreneurship (150304)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Innovation and Technology Management (150307)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Business Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 please consult the authors
Deposited On: 25 Aug 2009 01:54
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2016 00:57

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