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The objectives

When a product or service is cutting-edge and infused with technology, a different paradigm is needed to make the right decisions for targeting, communications, support and design. Illuminas guides clients in these decisions through the psychographic lens of the Technology Readiness Index (TRI), which captures the degree to which a consumer, buyer or employee accepts and embraces innovation. Because it is easy to deploy and produces powerful insights, we use this tool in scores of client engagements. A good case study of the TRI involves the Electric Vehicle (EV) market. Our client wanted to understand the level of maturity of the market (in the face of tapering sales growth), the purchase motivations of consumers and the types of features vehicles will require in the future.

case study research

our approach

Illuminas conducted a national online survey of 1,000 EV owners and intenders. The questionnaire uncovered vehicle ownership, purchase intentions, motivations, barriers to purchase, desired product features and demographics. The questionnaire also included the TRI, which relies on a set of validated belief statements about technology to capture a full range of consumer motivations (optimism, innovativeness) and inhibitors (discomfort, insecurity) to accepting innovations. The index can use 6 to 16 statements, but this study only needed 6 to produce the rich insights required. The questions told us each respondent’s overall level of “techno-readiness” and classified them into one of five tech adoption segments.

The TRI provided a clear story about how EVs are progressing along the adoption curve, confirming that owners belong to the most tech-ready segments (Pioneers and Explorers) but intenders belonged to a middle stage segment called Skeptics. The implication was that the market was indeed maturing and that marketers need to effectively communicate the value proposition for EVs. On the other hand, the study showed that the more tech-ready segments were a prime target for the “after market” for EV product enhancements (e.g., specialty parts). The study also shed light on how features were viewed by different TRI categories – for example, high-TR buyers were more interested in artificial intelligence features like a parking assistant, medium-TR buyers in battery charging time and low-TR buyers in interior room.

Tech Readiness Index
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the outcome

The study informed the industry of how strategy needed to shift in response to a maturing life cycle, focusing less on performance, sophisticated features and design, and more on affordability and comfort valued by less tech-ready buyers. It was also imperative to work on messaging targeted to Skeptics, which was helped in this study by capturing how consideration was influenced by higher order needs like responsibility, control and safety.

The TRI has proven validity because we published it in a leading management journal and have helped scientists in over 40 countries study tech adoption issues using the TRI. The TRI outputs are normed against the US population and updated annually in our National Technology Readiness Survey. In this case study, it proved to be a practical tool to guide industry strategy, features and messaging for our client.

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