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New Product Diffusion with Influentials and Imitators


  • Christophe Van den Bulte

    () (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104)

  • Yogesh V. Joshi

    () (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104)


We model the diffusion of innovations in markets with two segments: who are more in touch with new developments and who affect another segment of 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Christophe Van den Bulte & Yogesh V. Joshi, 2007. "New Product Diffusion with Influentials and Imitators," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(3), pages 400-421, 05-06.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormksc:v:26:y:2007:i:3:p:400-421

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