"Share and scare": Solving the communication dilemma of early adopters with a high need for uniqueness

Sarit Moldovan, Yael Steinhart, Shlomit Ofen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Early adopters are considered essential to new product success due to their role in encouraging others to adopt. In this paper, we show that this may not always be true. Early adopters with a high need for uniqueness may experience a communication dilemma of whether or not to communicate about innovations they adopt. The dilemma derives from the clash between their need to flaunt the innovation they adopted and their desire to preserve their uniqueness by preventing imitation by others. We suggest that this dilemma might be resolved by a "share and scare" strategy, in which early adopters share information about their adoption with others yet scare them out of adopting it. In a series of four studies, we demonstrate early adopters' communication dilemma, the "share and scare" strategy, and three moderators that confirm our theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Consumer Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant No. 473/10 ), and by the German–Israeli Foundation (GIF grant No. 1739/2007 ). The authors would like to thank the JCP editor, AE, and reviewers for their helpful comments, and to Tom Meyvis for suggesting the term “share and scare.”

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Society for Consumer Psychology.


  • Diffusion of innovations
  • Early adopters
  • Need for uniqueness
  • Word of mouth


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