Market Penetration and the Adoption Curve
Market penetration is how effectively a product reaches the potential market, not a percentage of the market occupied. While residential metal roofing has 17% market share, according to the 2021 Dodge Report, market penetration is another story.
In the broadest view, the potential market for residential metal roofing is every home in the US, a staggering 130+ million. This is too broad of a group to address with one solution, filled with people at all stages of life and differing perceptions of home improvement, roofing, and metal roofing. Willingness to adopt new technology varies greatly, too.
Image courtesy of American Society of Association Executives™
The adoption curve breaks consumers into brackets characterized by how quickly they adopt new technology after exposure. Once exposed to a product/solution/technology, customers that choose to pursue it fall into one of five groups.
Innovators adopt new ideas quickly, are ready for the new, and embrace change as an old friend. They are willing to =”100%”deal with the kinks and setbacks of a brand-new product, acting as beta testers. These people are rare and make up the smallest group by far.
Early adopters are next, ready to hop on board once the initial bugs are squashed. They like new ideas but are happy to rely on established ones. They embrace change but aren’t as rabid as innovators, making up the second smallest group.
The majority of customers fall in the middle of the model, divided into early and late adopters. They wait until the solution is still new, but just barely. It has been significantly polished by now and is mainstream in many cases. Adoption now comes with fewer compromises, but you miss out on the initial excitement.
The final group is the laggards, who love to take their time and hate change. They begrudgingly swap over to the ‘new’ thing, content with their outdated technology. They wait to update until the world around them changes, only when things are well-established and successful. Fortunately, they make up the third smallest group.
So, where does residential metal roofing fit into this model? Are we still experiencing the earlier stages of adoption, or has the majority caught up?
First, how long a product has been on the market is not the only metric to understand adoption. Consumers are exposed to innovations at different rates, and local market availability can limit a new idea’s adoption significantly. Without a way to experience a product or purchase it, adoption becomes impossible.
The rate of adoption can differ geographically too, and we see that with metal roofing. Certain areas of the country are better suited to metal roofing’s unique benefits, leading to widespread adoption.
With this knowledge in mind, what can we do to streamline adoption, market to the right groups, and leverage the innovation of residential metal roofing?
One possible answer is to work closely with solar panels and integrated solar roofing. These innovations enable metal roofing to appeal to a wider range of customers. As energy consumption and creation become even more critical, tying metal roofing’s identity to them will yield results.
As for streamlining adoption, the two biggest roadblocks for metal roofing besides low customer awareness are complex, skill-intensive installation and cost. Easier, more accessible installation is a fantastic goal to strive towards, but lowering cost is difficult, with materials and manufacturing being expensive.
Marketing to the right groups is key to growing adoption rates and positive perceptions of metal roofing. This means reaching receptive audiences, correcting assumptions about metal roofing, and increasing awareness. Many consumers aren’t aware of the strength, durability, and beauty modern metal roofing offers. They still hold an outdated idea of tin roofing, a pastoral image of a barn, or maybe they never consider any options for their home other than asphalt shingles.
Changing opinions is never easy; consider electric vehicles. Although they’ve experienced widespread support, they were restricted to early adopters and innovators for years. With major auto brands creating their own EVs, consumers have moved into the tail end of early adoption, with legislation and general sentiment promising EVs an early majority in a few decades.
Where do you think residential metal roofing falls in the model? Is your customer base all innovators, firsts in their neighborhood to make the switch? Or are you working with homeowners who know what they want, having waited for metal roofing to mature?
Pinpoint your spot and tailor your marketing efforts accordingly. Do you need to increase awareness of metal, or should you focus on the benefits it brings? Maybe your customers are already enlightened and looking for the best metal contractor locally.
Whatever the case, residential metal roofing continues to penetrate the market and is adopted daily. We have a bright future ahead of us and years of steady growth backing our solution.
Todd Miller has spent his entire career in the metal building products manufacturing industry. He is president of Isaiah Industries, an organization recognized as one of the world’s leading metal roofing manufacturers. Todd is currently Vice President of the MRA (Metal Roofing Association) and a Past Chair of MCA (Metal Construction Association). Through his website, he strives to raise the bar on standards and practices to provide property owners with the best possible products for successful roofing projects.
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