Overcoming passive resistance to innovation

The development and introduction of new products are important for the long term success of a company. When new products are being introduced to the market, there is always a concern for customer resistance. Customer resistance can be active when it is based on a negative evaluation of the new product, but it can also be passive when it is based on the idea that there is no need for the customer to change because the customer is satisfied with the status quo without a real evaluation of the new product.

In the December 2015 edition of the Journal of Economic Psychology there is an interesting article about passive innovation resistance (Heidenreich & Kraemer, 2015). In the article it becomes clear that a high frequency of new innovations can be beneficial but it can also be counter-effective, especially when customers have a passive resistance to change. This behaviour is not always rational. Companies should be aware that customers have this irrational behaviour, which can be enforced by the often active promotion by the company of the positive rational effects.

Companies can better assess first the potential market resistance in general or in specific target groups. To overcome this passive resistance to innovation it is important to understand the current practices of the customer and tailor communication where the innovation is compatible with current practices and/or create circumstances where the customer can experience the innovation to make a real evaluation.


Norbert Bol


Heidenreich, S., & Kraemer, T. (2015). Passive innovation resistance: The curse of innovation? Investigating consequences for innovative consumer behavior. Journal of Economic Psychology, 51, 134-151.

Photo credit: Krysthopher Woods / Foter.com /CC BY-NC

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