Relating Advocacy to the Process of Consumer Adoption

While gaining people’s support and involvement in a particular social issue isn’t the same as selling a consumer product, much of the same steps seem to be used when bringing people to participate in a social issue. According to businessdictionary.com, the product adoption process is a, “Five-stage mental process all prospective customers go through from learning of a new product to becoming loyal customers or rejecting it.”

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When relating this idea to that of advocacy there are several connections between the two:

  • Awareness- For people to participate in a social justice issue they must be aware of what is happening
  • Interest- Beyond having a small awareness, people need to be able to find more information on the issue to develop their own opinions
  • Evaluation- Once people have gained enough information they can make an informed decision about the issue and how important it is to them
  • Trial- This could involve something minute, such as a small donation, or something larger, such as being involved in a rally
  • Adoption- This could be the step where a person becomes an advocate and decides to stay involved in the cause or go even further and become an activist who seeks to create change through their own methods

What is interesting about the relation between adopting a product and supporting or participating in a cause is that it goes beyond the adoption process and to the speed of adoption as well. Within the consumer adoption process there are categories of people according to how quickly they adopt new products.

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This process is similar in that there are certain people who participate in new social causes much faster than others; however, it is different in that there are numerous consumers who never participate at all. According to Amy Swanson, “By the time Laggards adopt an innovation it has been possibly outmoded and replaced by something new and flashy.” The idea is that laggards will adopt the product eventually, just way behind the curve. That is why this model isn’t completely reflective of people beginning to participate in social causes- because some people never will. While there are different speeds of adoption for social causes, still in a lot of cases the cause isn’t adopted at all.

This is why during Erica Ciszek‘s speech, the class discussed the idea of moving from slacktivism to true advocacy or activism. One student asked how we can empower others around an issue without “seeming preachy or overwhelming.” This is an important question that many causes want to answer. Ideally, social causes want to expose consumers to the injustice that is happening without turning them away, setting them towards the adoption process and into advocacy.

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