In the first of a three part series Daniela, one of our Account Executives, explores the reasons why consumers resist innovation.


There has been a lot of research into why people choose particular products, however there is considerably less information surrounding the reasons why people reject certain products or services. When you look at how often new products, especially ones that contain radical innovation fail, it becomes very pertinent for businesses to understand the concept of innovation resistance and how best to overcome it.

There are two types of innovation resistance – active and passive. This article will explore the reasons behind active resistance, the next part will cover passive resistance and the third, and final, article will explore ways that resistance can be overcome.

Active resistance comes into play when consumers believe that there is a difference between the perceived attributes of a product and the actual attributes of a product. This can be a particular problem within the technology sector which can contain radical innovation.

There are three main barriers that will form part of active resistance:

Value barrier: This occurs when the perceived value of a product does not match the expected performance of a product. For a consumer to adopt something new, it must represent (to them) an advantage over existing items. In the introductory phases of a product, consumers may choose to wait until it reaches maturity to better establish the performance of a product.

Usage barrier: The usage barrier arises when a product requires a change in behaviour from the consumer. As a rule, consumers will tend to favour the status quo, therefore new products that require radical changes in behaviour or require consumers to learn how to use them, will face resistance to adoption.

Risk Barrier: The risk barrier is normally a factor that affects new products, as consumers question whether the product will be as advertised or whether the perceived high price is worth the adoption. This can be made worse by consumers not understanding the features of a product.

The barriers listed above are usually encountered early in the decision making process. In order to fully understand the concept of innovation resistance, return for part two of ‘Why Consumers Resist Innovation’ where Daniela will be discussing passive innovation resistance.

This article was originally written as part of Daniela’s thesis for her MSc in Marketing

1 Parasuraman, A. and Grewal, D., 2000. The Impact of Technology on the Quality-Value-Loyalty Chain: A Research Agenda. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, [e-journal] 28 (1), pp.168.

2 Greenleaf, E.A. and Lehmann, D.R., 1995. Reasons for Substantial Delay in Consumer Decision Making. Journal of Consumer Research, 22 (2), pp.186-199.
3 Gourville, J.T., 2006. Eager sellers and stony buyers: understanding the psychology of new- product adoption. Harvard business review, 84 (6), pp.98.
4 Heidenreich, S. and Kraemer, T., 2016. Innovations—Doomed to Fail? Investigating Strategies to Overcome Passive Innovation Resistance. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 33 (3), pp.277-297.
5 Heidenreich, S. and Spieth, P., 2013. Why Innovations Fail - the Case of Passive and Active Innovation Resistance. International Journal of Innovation Management, 17 (5), pp.1.