Early adopters are the ultimate lighthouse consumer, first in line for the latest style or tech trendlet. GQ explains how to identify them.
Have you ever walked past an Apple store on the day before a splashy new product launch? No? Well, put it this way, have you ever seen any grainy Super 8 footage from the original Woodstock festival? Images that show thousands of writhing bodies all queuing up like space pilgrims awaiting beatification from some acid-dipped hippie? Yes? Well, an Apple product launch is pretty much like that, just rather than grubby rock’n’roll devotees dropping sugar cubes, these men (and women) are sworn to the cult of the new. Their religion, their music, is to be first in line.
Welcome to the “stuff”-obsessed world of the earliest adopter, men who don’t so much keep abreast of the trends – new iPhones, for example – as attempt to keep several steps ahead of them. Think of these shoppers as the Captain Kirks of consumerism, going where no man (well, no man with a functioning Visa card at least) has gone before. So competitive are these try-hards about being ahead of the curve – through shopping – they dedicate their lives to it.
Essentially, the earliest adopter wants to own the next big thing before anyone else. And that applies to T-shirts, Gucci suits, limited-edition soft drinks, one-off chocolate bars made with matcha green tea, computer games, VR advances, drones you can fly in your sleep, wireless earbuds, personalised emoji, athleisurewear, underwear, malware… Pretty much anything that can be exchanged for cold hard cash or cryptocurrency.
Case in point: see how everyone is gulping down Vita Coco as if it’s the elixir of life? Well, your local earliest adopter was drinking that particular vitamin-flushed radioactive bin juice before you so much as knew coconuts contained water. Want to know what he’s drinking now? Watermelon water. Or, rather, WTRMLN WATR, to anyone worth their “influencer” status. Still, even that stuff is old news in comparison to what he’s going to be drinking tomorrow. Ever heard of Bai, endorsed by Justin Timberlake (king of the earliest adopters) and made from the pulp of coffee fruit? Thought not. But you will. Next year.
Of course, it’s all about showing off. There’s no point getting your hands on those Supreme x Wedgwood x Cadbury x Vetements chocolate teapots unless you’re going to make some noise about it. You can tell if someone is an earliest adopter because their social feed is full of their pontifications on how great some newfangled product is. Every day brings with it a new gizmo to fall in love with and every day comes the realisation for the rest of us that there’s an awful lot of “stuff” in the world you simply don’t need. Remember: you can’t early-adopt taste.