The Early Adopter vs The Dilettante: Two Approaches to Technology

The Early Adopter: Staying Ahead of the Curve

There’s something thrilling about being the first person in your circle to own the latest gadget or try out a new trend. These individuals, known as early adopters, are constantly on the lookout for the next big thing and are unafraid to dive in headfirst.

Take the example of someone who bought the first iPhone in 2008. While others were skeptical about the revolutionary device, the early adopter was already familiarizing themselves with its features and exploring its potential. They embraced the unknown, recognizing that there would be a learning curve but eager to stay ahead of the curve.

But it’s not just technology that early adopters embrace. They extend their enthusiasm to various aspects of their lives. From trying out new sports like pickleball to joining clubs and buying professional equipment, early adopters are always seeking fresh experiences and opportunities.

The Dilettante: A Flirtation with the New

On the other hand, we have the dilettante—a term often used to describe someone who dabbles in different pursuits but rarely commits to them in the long term. They enjoy sampling a wide range of experiences and moving on to the next exciting thing that catches their eye.

Similar to the early adopter, the dilettante may try out the latest technology or trends. They might grab a new magazine from the newsstand or buy a best-selling book from a beloved author. However, their interest often wanes after the initial excitement fades away.

The dilettante’s approach is characterized by a lack of persistence, an inability to weather the inevitable challenges and setbacks that come with any new endeavor. They might be great at starting things, but their enthusiasm quickly diminishes once the novelty wears off.

Learning from the Hard Parts: The Early Adopter Advantage

What sets the early adopter apart from the dilettante is their ability to stick through the dip—the difficult phase that often comes after the initial excitement. While the dilettante may abandon a new technology or hobby when faced with obstacles, the early adopter sees these challenges as opportunities for growth.

The early adopter takes the time to learn from the hard parts, pushing through the initial learning curve and persisting until they become proficient. In doing so, they develop a deeper understanding of the technology or activity, gaining skills that the dilettante never acquires.

This persistence and willingness to learn from challenges is what sets the early adopter up for success. They become the go-to person for advice and recommendations on the latest gadgets or trends, leveraging their expertise to make informed decisions and communicate their insights with others.

Diversity in Culture and Marketing

Both early adopters and dilettantes play an essential role in our culture and marketing strategies. Their contrasting approaches offer unique perspectives and cater to different segments of the population. Understanding these personas is crucial for marketers looking to reach their target audience effectively.

If your goal is to generate widespread interest and curiosity, targeting the dilettantes might be a viable strategy. They are more likely to try out new products or experiences, spreading the word through their initial enthusiasm. However, it’s important to recognize that this transient interest may not necessarily lead to long-term engagement or customer loyalty.

On the other hand, if you’re aiming for dedicated, long-term customers, the early adopters should be your primary focus. These individuals are more likely to invest their time, energy, and resources into mastering a technology or becoming deeply involved in an activity. Their influence and knowledge can help create a strong, loyal customer base.

Choose Wisely: The Audience You Seek

As marketers, we need to choose the audience we seek carefully. If our efforts are solely focused on trial and initial engagement, we might attract a crowd of dilettantes—individuals who might move on to the next shiny object as soon as the novelty wears off. However, if we foster the right conditions for persistence and subscription, we have a better chance of attracting and retaining the dedicated early adopters who will become evangelists for our products or services.


The early adopter and the dilettante represent two distinct approaches to new technology and experiences. While the dilettante moves from one thing to another, the early adopter embraces the challenges and persists through the difficult phases. Both personas are necessary for a diverse and vibrant culture, but marketers need to understand their preferences and plan their strategies accordingly. By recognizing the value of persistence and targeting the right audience, we can build loyal and engaged communities around our products and ultimately drive long-term success.