Here’s the good news: The electric vehicle (EV) industry is reaching critical mass and is here to stay for good. The International Energy Agency projects that electric vehicle sales will reach 18% market share of all vehicles sold by the end of 2023. To further aid this push, U.S. and Canadian governments continue to offer grants and incentives to shift our transportation infrastructure off of fossil fuels.
With these initial pieces in place, now comes the tricky part: How do you expand your EV charger operations beyond these early adopters? Unlocking other sales segments comes down to understanding the innovation-adoption curve—and how you can transform late adopters into converts.
What is the innovation-adoption curve?
The innovation-adoption curve is a theoretical explanation for how products, technology, and even ideas spread throughout a given population over a period of time and eventually reach full market saturation. This curve can be applied to a wide range of subjects, from product development and marketing to education, sociology, and even public health.
Everett Rogers detailed the theory in his 1962 book, Diffusion of Innovations, which provides two different curves: a bell curve which comprises groups of “adopters” and when they’re likely to adopt a given product or technological innovation, and an S-curve, which exhibits the market share as it reaches full saturation. Both curves are laid on a graph, where the X-axis represents time as it moves forward, and the Y-axis represents total market share.
The bell curve of adopters is further divided into five different categories:
- Innovators: This group is tiny—usually around 2–3% of the total population—and has the status and income to take on the risk of adopting technology with a greater chance of failure.
- Early adopters: This group typically makes up 10–15% of the market. While they are less likely to dive in as new technology emerges, they are more willing to take a leap once it shows signs of adoption.
- Early majority: Once the innovators and early adopters provide a foundation for a particular product or technology, the early majority begins pushing it into mainstream adoption. This group is about a third of the total population.
- Late majority: Also comprising about a third of the total population, the late majority is either more skeptical of the technology or doesn’t have the financial resources of the early adopters or early majority. Eventually, they will likely purchase or adopt the tech after a significant portion of the population has.
- Laggards: The final group is much smaller than the late majority (about 15%) and generally only adopt new technology with a low-enough price point, a highly-successful marketing campaign, or when the old technology is completely phased out.
This curve shows how products break through to larger markets or how technology becomes mainstream. Once an idea reaches an early majority of people, the Innovation-Adoption Curve reaches an inflection point, where market share sees exponential growth. Then, as the late majority and laggards begin to adopt the product, growth starts to slow down. Despite this, reaching these late adopters is crucial for bringing a product to market, as capturing these populations signifies when an idea has fully taken hold with the general public.
So where does EV charging infrastructure fit into this curve?
Currently, the electric vehicle industry is squarely within the early adopter phase. However, market share is rapidly nearing an inflection point where we’re beginning to see year-over-year exponential growth of EV sales, making the next few years a critical time for the industry.
Manufacturers like Ford, Honda, Nissan, BMW, and even Porsche have launched their own electric vehicles, joining the likes of industry mainstays like Tesla. And as awareness of the EV market grows along with the infrastructure to accommodate these new vehicles, we’re likely to see even more EV buyers in the coming years.
More EVs on the road mean an exponentially greater need for chargers. Today’s EV skeptics may be the decision-makers for tomorrow’s infrastructure, so it’s crucial to convince them to get in front of the market. Here’s how.
How to tailor your sales pitch to convert late adopters
To scale your EV charging business, you need to be able to reach late adopters and convert them into buyers. As such, it’s becoming increasingly essential to devise tactics to convert these late adopters as soon as possible. Here are some strategies to reach those holdouts–and potentially convert a few laggards down the line as well.
Use the scarcity principle to your advantage
The EV industry is currently staring down a classic supply-and-demand problem. EV sales are on the rise, but the infrastructure capable of supporting this boom has yet to catch up, leading to a mismatch in supply/demand ratios between the two. In fact, the World Economic Forum cites this discrepancy as the most significant barrier to global EV adoption.
This market imbalance means a massive opportunity for expansion within the EV charging space. Help your prospect see the potential of installing EV charging stations to reach untapped markets or provide an attractive differentiator for their retail, business, or residential property. For example, renters with a personal electric vehicle will be more likely to seek a place to live that can accommodate it through overnight charging stations.
Point out competitors
Despite their reluctance, most laggards don’t want to fall behind their competition. Even if these late adopters believe electric vehicles to be a temporary fad, pointing out that their competitors have made the leap may incentivize them to invest in EV infrastructure themselves.
Capitalize on trends
Also, if your sales prospect believes EVs only to be a popular trend rather than the future of transportation, point out how there is value in capitalizing on trends. Even boom-and-bust cycles bring new opportunities and revenue streams–and with a large enough install base, temporary trends become permanent fixtures.
Catering to popular trends can attract other businesses to the area that are also trying to capitalize on these trends, ultimately up-leveling the consumer and resident experience. For example, a public parking garage that offers EV stations may attract more hip businesses to the surrounding area. That effect could further increase the space's overall appeal and its value to current and prospective businesses and nearby residential properties.
Consistency makes businesses look reliable and gives the impression that they are taking a holistic look at their entire operation and applying core values throughout. Appealing to their desire for consistency is a fantastic way to provide value, especially if your sales prospect already prioritizes sustainability and environmentalism. For example, an owner of a condominium complex in California may use native, drought-resistant plants in their landscaping approach to conserve water. For this business owner, you can illustrate how providing tenants with EV stations remains consistent with their current commitment to environmental conservation.
Make the transition easier with an open EV charging software platform
Late adopters and laggards tend to be more skeptical than those who jump in early and want to ensure they won’t get left behind when they finally decide to make the transition. That’s why choosing an EV charging platform with the broadest range of compatibility with hardware options is critical. That’s where ChargeLab comes in–our charging station management system is open, hardware-agnostic, and compatible with virtually all OCPP-compliant EV chargers. Plus, it provides a centralized hub for managing revenue, energy output, and user access across your entire charging network. Ready to learn more? Contact us today.