Extending Innovation Characteristic Perception to Diffusion Channel Intermediaties and Aesthetic Products

A. Richard Petrosky, University of Arizona
ABSTRACT - An extension of Rogers' innovation characteristic framework is proposed that applies to aesthetic rather than utilitarian products as perceived by facilitators rather than consumers. Aesthetic products are defined as works of art, music, and fashion. Facilitators are defined as actors intermediate to producers and consumers in the diffusion channel who perform the functions of criticism and interpretation of the product. Facilitator-level evaluations of jazz and clothing fashion are examined, resulting in the discovery of supplementary categories: 1) legitimacy, defined as an assessment of the innovation with respect to the conventions of the product category, and 2) potential genrefication, defined as an assessment of the innovation in terms of ability to foster a genre within the broader domain of styles in the product category. Roger's complexity is reconsidered as having a curvilinear effect on adoption.
[ to cite ]:
A. Richard Petrosky (1991) ,"Extending Innovation Characteristic Perception to Diffusion Channel Intermediaties and Aesthetic Products", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 18, eds. Rebecca H. Holman and Michael R. Solomon, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 627-634.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 18, 1991      Pages 627-634

EXTENDING INNOVATION CHARACTERISTIC PERCEPTION TO DIFFUSION CHANNEL INTERMEDIATIES AND AESTHETIC PRODUCTS

A. Richard Petrosky, University of Arizona

ABSTRACT -

An extension of Rogers' innovation characteristic framework is proposed that applies to aesthetic rather than utilitarian products as perceived by facilitators rather than consumers. Aesthetic products are defined as works of art, music, and fashion. Facilitators are defined as actors intermediate to producers and consumers in the diffusion channel who perform the functions of criticism and interpretation of the product. Facilitator-level evaluations of jazz and clothing fashion are examined, resulting in the discovery of supplementary categories: 1) legitimacy, defined as an assessment of the innovation with respect to the conventions of the product category, and 2) potential genrefication, defined as an assessment of the innovation in terms of ability to foster a genre within the broader domain of styles in the product category. Roger's complexity is reconsidered as having a curvilinear effect on adoption.

INTRODUCTION

Diffusion theory has garnered much attention in the consumer behavior literature and continues to be the focus of considerable research in the marketing discipline (Mahajan,et al. 1990). One area of diffusion research which has recently received less consideration by consumer researchers despite its obvious importance is the study of perceived innovation characteristics.

In their review of diffusion literature, Gatignon and Robertson (1985) find most of the innovation characteristics research either utilizing or confirming the taxonomy developed by Rogers (1962) relating relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, divisibility, and communicability of the product to its adoption. Rogers and Shoemaker (1971) compile the results of numerous studies which support the applicability of this taxonomy to a wide assortment of products, such as agricultural chemicals and commercial fertilizer, contraceptives, televisions, and new food products. But, as Gatignon and Robertson point out, little effort has been directed toward the establishment of a comprehensive classification scheme for innovations. Until this is accomplished it may be premature to call Rogers' scheme comprehensive.

Despite the enormous range of cases to which the Rogers scheme has been applied, the vast majority of perceptions analyzed have the final users of the innovation as their source, and innovations that are utilitarian as their object. One way to examine the comprehensiveness of the Rogers taxonomy is to apply the scheme to sources of perceptions other than final users and to objects of perception that are not utilitarian. This study explores the applicability of the Rogers taxonomy in this manner using two unusual sources of secondary data.

Commentary on jazz constitutes the first source, and clothing fashion commentary constitutes the second. These sources are used to ask two questions of Rogers' framework. First, can the framework account for the manner by which intermediary consumers -- critics and other information disseminators (e.g. "market mavens,' Feick and Price 1987) - perceive innovations? Second, does the framework, presently applied only to utilitarian products, perform equally well with aesthetic innovations as the object of inquiry? The answer to these questions is a qualified "yes," provided modifications of the framework outlined in the later sections of this paper are undertaken.

In the following section, the available literature is briefly reviewed regarding a) innovation perception among non-consumers, and b) differences between aesthetic and utilitarian innovations. This is followed by a brief description of the method of the analysis, the resultant conceptual framework developed in the analysis, a comparison of the emergent scheme with the Rogers framework, and general conclusions for the present study.

Non-consumer perceptions. Mansfield (1967) investigates diffusion of innovations among producers, and elaborates a perception set not unlike what rogers has developed for end-consumers. Other literature indicates, however, that groups intermediate to producers and final users may have unique perceptions which will require new or modified taxonomies. Hirsch (1972) maintains that the invention and ultimate adoption stages have been the primary focus of diffusion researchers, while the influence of intermediaries is generally disregarded. This focus results in inadequate appraisal of the "throughput" sector, which is comprised of influential individuals and/or organizations which "filter the overflow of information and materials intended for consumers." For many members of this throughput sector, adoption (or non-adoption) is not necessarily an end state; instead they may seek to influence or facilitate the adoption decisions of others. Given this basic difference, the throughput sector may present an interesting opportunity to consider a class of innovation perceptions that cannot be comfortably accommodated by the Rogers taxonomy.

Aesthetic Innovations. A second class of innovation perceptions that may require further accommodations are perceptions of aesthetic, rather than utilitarian innovations. Aesthetic innovations can be defined as new products or product extensions in product categories which emphasize artistic value, such as art, music and fashion. Hirschman (1980) suggests that for many product classes, "objective, tangible attributes which a product possesses are dominated by the subjective, intangible attributes associated with it (p.11)." The existence of such product differences are well documented: Hirsch (1972) explains that some products "serve an esthetic or expressive function" while others serve a "clearly utilitarian function". That there are particular products more likely to be experienced for their aesthetic rather than their utilitarian content such as "Beverly Sills performances, Picasso paintings, Shakespearean sonnets, and Paul Desmond recordings" (Holbrook 1980, p.37)- has been noted in the consumer behavior literature (Holbrook and Hirschman 1982).

Moreover, the systems within which aesthetic products are propagated provide an example of a dense, dynamic throughput sector, as well as provide focal products which may differ from the utilitarian products evaluated in Rogers and Shoemaker. Becker (1982) identifies aesthetic systems as comprising many levels, including the producer and other influencer groups whose influence is felt well before the final user consumes. As Becker (1976) maintains, an inquiry into this area necessarily includes all who contribute to the end result:

The people who conceive the idea of the work (e.g. composers or playwrights); people who execute it (musicians or actors); people who provide the necessary equipment and material (e.g. musical instrument makers); and people who make up the audience (playgoers, critics and so on)...(p.703-4)

All those described here - except for the playgoers are members of the throughput sector. For the purpose of clarity, those who play any of these throughput roles will henceforth be referred to as facilitators. McCracken (1986) echoes the influential nature of these facilitators in his examination of the fashion system:

It must be admitted that everyone in the diffusion chain plays a gate-keeping role and helps to influence the tastes of individuals looking for opinion leadership (p.77).

In sum, this study examines whether modifications to the scheme are required. The present research proceeds from the notions that 1) aesthetic content may so strongly influence the perceptions of some products that it may also significantly influence the way they are diffused, and 2) the different goals of facilitators relative to consumers or producers will influence the way they perceive innovations.

METHOD

As mentioned above, two sets of data were used for this study. The first of these was a collection of a recurring feature called "The Blindfold Test," which appeared in downbeat magazine, which primarily features articles on jazz. In each of these features, a well-known player of jazz is selected by critic Leonard Feather. This guest critic then listens to a number of jazz recordings selected by Feather, and comments on them without having been given any information on their source, hence the term "blindfold." The responses revolve solely around the recordings and generally include some type of rating and an attempt by the guest critic to identify the players. Along with the test responses, each article included a brief biography of the guest critic, communicating the "school" of jazz with which he/she was primarily identified. Approximately 200 articles were selected from the period of 1958-61; this period was selected-for its relatively high incidence of innovative styles, which was reflected in the recordings chosen for the feature.

To extend and refine the concepts developed from the jazz data set, another data set was investigated - one containing evaluative responses to a different type of aesthetic product. In the spirit of purposive sampling (Lincoln and Guba, 1985), the choice of the second data set was made in order to achieve maximum variation sampling. The aesthetic product category chosen was clothing fashion, a category that is perceptibly different from jazz on a number of dimensions.

Clothing fashion and jazz are both product categories where taste and the discrimination of relative beauty bear greatly on perceptions. An alteration in design, an added feature, or the augmentation of an attribute in a refrigerator or a sewing machine will produce a predictable response: a more energy efficient design or enhanced capability in such a product will elicit a generally positive reaction. An augmentation in style, a revolution in presentation in music or fashion cannot hope to win such a universal badge of approval: while one sector may enthusiastically sing the praises of the latest modal musical transmogrification or laud the chic of a well-turned chapeau, there likely lies in wait another group to slander those same sounds and vilify the visor in vogue. By their nature, aesthetic products contain an element of mystery driven by the elusiveness of a generally acceptable criterion of beauty.

Yet there are differences between jazz and clothing fashion. The greatest of these differences is the physical limitation of innovation. Musical styles can and have varied wildly, constrained only by the imagination of their creators. Clothing fashion, on the other hand, must ultimately return to a particular function or purpose: covering and/or adorning the human body. Music has no restricting arms to ensleeve, no modesty to shield, few functional expectations. To the musical innovator, the "new" is virtually infinite; to the fashion designer, the available direction for flights of fantasy is noticeably finite.

The fashion data set includes approximately 100 articles drawn primarily from 1989 issues of Women's Wear Daily; in addition, all installments of the feature called "Designers on Designing" from its inception in January 1986 until May 1989 were included. Of the articles included, all contain evaluative comment from facilitators, some in the form of reviews of fashion shows, and some in the designer's own words.

As with utilitarian products, the definition of what constitutes an innovative aesthetic product is problematic. Degree of continuity - for new music as well as new culinary devices - is a socially negotiated quality. For both sets of data, an innovation is considered as a deviation at the stylistic level, as identified by the facilitators.

The research proceeded along the guidelines of the qualitative method of generating theory grounded in data as detailed by Glaser and Strauss (1967). Data were analyzed using the constant comparative method, identifying consistencies and divergences in the data, and developing categories to explain these. The analysis focused on the passages within the data set which involved perceptions of the characteristics and peculiarities of an innovation as perceived by the facilitator. Marginal notes were made on the language contained in the relevant passages, and content generalities were developed from these. From this point a pattern coding was developed using the data set. These codes expressed the major themes/categories contained in the facilitators' perceptions of innovation characteristics. With the coding complete, further comparison and contrast of items of particular code were done to reduce the large number of themes into a more focused, well-defined description of relevant categories. These hypothesized categories were then combined into a workable scheme.

This process was first applied to the jazz data set. The investigation continued until a set of categories which could account for the responses made with respect to the innovative compositions was developed. The process was then repeated with the fashion data set, with particular emphasis placed on determining the existence of the emergent categories and Rogers' categories within the responses, though remaining open to the possibility of discovering supplementary or competing categories.

ANALYSIS

Categories revealed in both sets of data. The following categories of innovation characteristics were identified in the jazz and fashion data sets:

1) Complexity -is the degree to which the style is difficult to understand or to execute.

Jazz data. Examples of commentary employing this characteristic include:

- They never got off the ground. But before I criticize any more, if I had to play it, I don't think I could play it either.

- I'm interested in execution of ideas as well as inspiration. And until such time as he gets his own playing and his group organized, then I can't take him very seriously.

In addition to comments regarding specific instances of style difficulty or the difficulty of understanding what the performer was attempting with the selection, there were other responses that suggested some selections were too simple:

- [Part] One sounded simple, kind of basic you know,"two changes and everybody will remember it" kind of thing. I liked the second part- it swung.

The definition of complexity therefore requires further delineation with regards to a certain threshold level having been attained. Berlyne (1960) suggests there is an interaction of positive and negative aspects of complexity which leads to an inverted-U relationship between complexity and positive evaluation. Zuckerman (1979) reiterates this point and notes several studies which ascribe complexity preference to creative persons. Given this, a simple linear relationship between this "complexity" and adoption facilitation cannot be drawn.

Fashion data. As with the jazz data, the complexity of the particular style introduced in fashion contains an essential duality - something which is judged "too simple" can be regarded as uninteresting. At the same time, simplicity of an innovation can be seen as a virtue. The exact threshold at which simplicity transforms from bane to boon is indiscernible in the responses. Separate evaluations of the same innovation were not available to discern whether the judgment of the positivity or negativity of simplicity remained consistent across responses.

- Something that is simple is often successful because it appears that there are no problems involved. The surface may seem facile and spontaneous when, in fact, complex labor lies beneath it. The end result, however, looks like it just happened.

- All that richness is exactly what our customer will love - and there is the striking simplicity of the black statement.

- But when things get too flamboyant, it's like a drag show.

- He has already proved he's a surehanded designer, but he's strongest when he stays simple.

- Nice, but too many tricks.

2a) Legitimate Style Mechanics-is the degree to which the execution is done according to established tenets.

2b) Legitimate Style Derivation-is the degree to which the new style is derived from a legitimate precursor.

Jazz data. The following responses conform to the legitimate style mechanics characteristic category:

- The clarinet player got a good legitimate sound.

-It's most probably a classical player with a good feeling for jazz.

For the jazz data set, this refers to the actual playing of the instrument. Comments in this category often revolve around speculation on the extent and type of training the player(s) received, and whether that training conforms to what the guest reviewer deems as appropriate. Often a player was 'illegitimate' by not having mastered the subtler nuances of the instrument in a jazz sense: perhaps a young player who had not yet 'paid his dues,' or a crossover talent who had established a personal style in a non-jazz idiom. Responses which conform to the second category of legitimate style derivation include the following:

- Though it's a legitimate piece, it's somebody who has his roots in jazz who wrote this thing.

- It certainly isn't jazz. Is it supposed to be jazz?

- I don't believe jazz will move in the direction of the last record, but I believe people may be led to believe that kind of music is jazz.

This concept could also be seen as a preoccupation with classification:

- ...kind of West Coast sounding.

- It sounds New Yorkish to me.

This refers primarily to the composition, rather than the playing. As in the legitimate style mechanics section, there is concern with respect to the source of inspiration: is the composition jazz-inspired, or structured like a non-jazz musical idiom. A great deal of these comments center on a selection's adherence to core attributes of jazz, namely improvisational content and 'swinging' feel. Problems arise due to the inexact nature of these attributes' definition. As some performances become standard in a once-improvisational format, or as band size necessitates more rigid compositional structure, it becomes more and more difficult to delineate improvisational from non-improvisational (Berendt, 1975). Likewise, though swinging feel is often achieved by particular placement of emphasis on certain beats in a measure, there may be alternative means to develop this attribute. Thus the guest reviewer may also incorporate non-attribute comparison bases, by likening it holistically to 'successful' forerunner styles, or other current schools.

Fashion data. Legitimacy aspects of clothing fashion tend to cluster around two main themes: fashion is discussed in terms of where its inspiration is derived, and the manner in which the design is executed. These two themes map well onto the style derivation and style mechanics concepts, respectively, derived for the jazz response data. However, while these themes are prevalent in a wide variety of contexts, they are not consistently positively or negatively related to adoption or potential for diffusion. For example, while one designer may launch into a discourse on the legitimacy of adopting a current theme - from existing themes in fashion, previously popular themes in fashion, or themes taken from other aesthetic product categories - another may disfavor the use of thematic departure altogether. Inspiration was a strong theme throughout, and the source of the given inspiration was often outside the fashion world; for fashion innovation, this extends the perceived legitimacy of the precursor for the specific aesthetic product category to the general realm of aesthetic products.

- There's so much hype in the fashion industry today that anyone can come in off the street, pour 20 million into a company and call herself a designer. But those designers are a quick fix, a thing. The companies which have longevity are those like Liz Claiborne that take a pragmatic approach to the industry.

- I don't work within themes. It's not like I go to a Picasso exhibit and then show a 'Calvin interprets Picasso collection.' I'm not designing costumes. I'm doing very real clothes for the modern woman.

- I think clothes have to have a sense of tradition. I don't design clothes to be thrown out after each season.

- ...there are times when ideas flow - inspired by magazines, movies, or as with last fall's silver collection, by an aluminum trash can...

- Sometimes I get on a theme kick. I'll base a group or a collection on a country I've been to or an exhibit I've seen. But the themes are for my benefit - you can't tell looking at the clothes what the theme was.

3) Potential "Genre-f cation" -is the degree to which the style is not self-limiting and contributes to a broader domain of styles.

Jazz data. Unlike the legitimacy constructs, genrefication statements in the jazz data set do not center on the "jazziness" of the style, but rather on the potential contribution it can make to jazz as a broader domain of styles, how well it extends the overall constraints of the jazz idiom.

- I don't dig it myself, it doesn't sound good to me. I can't say anymore. It's an experiment to see how many changes in key they can get and how many odd progressions. Nothing happens, no rating.

- The style in playing is extreme, but it does show that there is more freedom to be taken advantage of than is as a rule. I think that in time to come there will be more freedom to be taken advantage of, but it will be used more musically.

- I have no objection to the harmonica in jazz - at least the way he plays it, it has very good potential.

- That internal doubling is good for some effects, but all the way through, it's not very effective. There's so much meat in his work. and he's definitely a shepherd.

These comments generally focus on whether the selection is an experiment too narrowly defined, or has genuinely interesting and variably replicable elements. For example, the building of a selection around an exotic time signature could be viewed as a 'trick,' something which would create one interesting piece of music but which would become too repetitious and uninteresting in subsequent use. On the other hand, composition with non-chromatic scales may be embraced as a variant on the usual method with the potential to be repeatedly used as a mechanism to create a body of related - but not overly similar - work.

Fashion data. As was the case in the jazz data set, the potential of an innovation to exist in many subtly different constructions is strong in the clothing fashion data set. Just as the jazz producer was concerned with the limitation of compositions that could flow from a particular style innovation, so is the clothing fashion designer concerned with the collection that derives from the innovation. A sidelight of this concept is the prevalent theme of editing in the fashion response set. Editing here refers to the process of delineating the final content of the collection: the collection is viewed as a coherent whole, and seems to have a traditional restriction on size, though this restriction is by no means well defined. Anything that detracts from this coherence or inflates it beyond traditional size must be extracted. From the responses, it seems very important that the collection stem from a core idea and the correctness of editing the collection reflects this

- The funny thing is when I look back to the first complete collection I made, it was well thought out, it was right.

- There were some very good numbers here, but they got lost in a collection that veered in too many directions.

- I don't think the concept ever grew. Sprouse was doing the day-glo sixties the first time and he did the same thing the second time.

- I'm designing one wardrobe. Whether you're talking about a sable coat or a pair of jeans, it's one mindset.

In the same way that the jazz facilitator is aware of an innovation's latent potential to transcend its 'trick' and become the basis of a style, the fashion facilitator looks for the fashion innovation which does more than just solve a single problem in a particular collection. In the fashion set this potential is recognized in two ways: as the innovation's contribution to the coherence of one collection, as well as its ability to sustain nonrepetitive variations across successive collections.

Additional categories revealed in the fashion data set. Unlike the jazz data set, the fashion responses contained many instances of responses which could easily be categorized using some of the Rogers characteristics.

Relative Advantage- Designers and reviewers alike compared the functional aspects of using an alternative fabric and other similar advantage-based notions.

- I'm crazy about cold-weather quilting. It's the new answer to fur.

Compatibility- Designers spoke of appealing to a presiding taste among a particular audience, as well as a buyer who wanted to buy piece by piece to match their existing wardrobe. This is also seen in the incorporation of accessories.

- Once the collection has begun to take shape, her employees visit accessory showrooms to see what is available that season. "I will adapt the accessories for my collection" says Herrera, who buys the accessories used in her show.

- I don't do hosiery colors, or anything else, to complement other people's clothes.

Divisibility characteristics were not discovered in either set of data. Likewise, observability issues were not evident, potentially due to a high degree of observability common for all items in the product category.

DISCUSSION

The concepts developed for the jazz data are combined-as a taxonomy of innovation characteristics for aesthetic innovations, and their suggested effect on facilitators' expedition of the adoption process. This model is represented by the single-lined boxes of the Figure. The additional categories from the Rogers' scheme which were necessary to complete the perceived characteristic set for the fashion data are represented by double-lined boxes.

Comparing the set of concepts to the generalized set of characteristics of Rogers (1962), it may be possible to find areas of agreement and isolate areas of extension for the aesthetic products which in turn could be tested on other aesthetic products for generalizability. Initially it should be recognized that the Rogers characteristic categories and those revealed from the analysis of the jazz data will necessarily influence different areas within the diffusion process. As Rogers' categories focus on the characteristics from the ultimate adopters' perspective, the categories are positioned as directly influential on adoption; the revealed categories, however, focus on the facilitator perspective and therefore the endpoint which is being influenced by the innovation characteristics is the facilitation of the process - interpretation, sponsorship, or whatever means available to the given facilitator rather than actual adoption. So while comparisons may be drawn between the two sets, such comparison should be done with the knowledge that the described effects of the characteristics are not precisely the same.

FIGURE

First of all, while the concept of complexity occurs in both schemes, a closer look reveals a potential difference. The relationship between complexity and facilitation in the revealed scheme does not appear to be a linear one, as is the case in the Rogers' scheme. It may very well be that a certain level of complexity is required by the facilitator, below which the innovation is uninteresting, but beyond which complexity has a negative correlation with the decision to facilitate adoption. Wallendorf, et al.(1980) suggest a similar relationship between complexity of fiction passages and enjoyment (positive evaluation).

Legitimacy seems to define much of the same territory as compatibility and the competition aspect of relative advantage, in so far as it places importance on adhering to existing principles and coexisting with other styles, respectively. But legitimacy evaluations are more likely to be subject to the associations and predilections of the particular facilitator - given there may be many facilitators with competing legitimacy rationales while compatibility is a more physical/tangible property. Likewise, the superiority aspect of relative advantage would seem to map on that of genrefication in a very superficial way, since a negatively-evaluated genrefication potential would limit acceptability as a style of play. But genrefication evaluations highlight the potential of the innovation beyond its current incarnation, an aspect not incorporated in measures of relative advantage. Both legitimacy and potential genrefication operate at a more specific level than these Rogers scheme counterparts, and therefore contribute over and above what similarities they share with compatibility and relative advantage, respectively.

Furthermore, evidence of Rogers' trialability and observability is absent in the responses of both data sets. For trialability, the absence is of no concern since all samples were essentially triable in that they are available recordings or designs; likewise, observability has no alternate levels since consumption here is all public. So, while there is no evidence of either, this could be due to the collection method. Additionally, trialability may be a moot issue due to the level of those doing the assessment: facilitators are not necessarily adopters, and trialability may ultimately be tied to an adoption risk to which facilitators are not exposed.

CONCLUSION

The characteristic categories of complexity, legitimacy, and genrefication developed for the jazz data set were not sufficient for explaining what evaluations took place for the clothing fashion set; this second set required additional categories borrowed from the conventional characteristics described by Rogers (1962). It may be reasonable to assume that some mixture of the two category sets reflects a mixture of aesthetic and utilitarian elements. The first category of jazz could be classified as largely aesthetic, with little utilitarian content; the second aesthetic product category of clothing, while definitely incorporating an aesthetic element, could be regarded as a product category which exhibits significant functional/utilitarian aspects as well.

One outcome of this study is the notion that the perceived presence of aesthetic and utilitarian content in a given product category may be responsible for the type of evaluations to which it is subjected. Given this finding, it may be interesting to reevaluate the work of Tornatsky and Klein (1982), who, in their meta-analysis of innovation characteristic research, found significant relationships for complexity, relative advantage, and compatibility, but none with any consistency for trialability or observability. Likewise, Midgley (1987) reports largely insignificant findings across numerous innovation characteristic studies, and suggests further exploration of possible moderating factors between the characteristics and adoption. Perhaps these inconsistencies could be accounted for if the different products studied could be partitioned by their relative aesthetic and utilitarian content. As with the present study, the salience of the trialability and observability categories may be diminished for the highly aesthetic products.

One problem in drawing distinctions between products of primarily aesthetic nature and those of a functional nature is that of overemphasizing the difference. Technological advances, for example, may seem on the surface to be more easily and forthrightly evaluated than aesthetic innovations: a refrigerator with an ice-cube maker, for example, is an obvious improvement over one without, whereas a cubist painting has no obvious advantage over an impressionist one. This distinction, however, is a false one - the relative ease of evaluation in the first case is an artifact of the acceptance of the more-is-better orientation in modern Western societies (Veblen 1899). If we account for cultures who value simplicity and tradition, the evaluation of the technological advance is no more obvious than that for the aesthetic change.

The essential difference, then, is one of scale. The preference for change over tradition (or stagnation, depending on your point of view) tends to pervade at a societal level, whereas aesthetic choices exist at a more intimate level. Adherents to particular modes of aesthetic expression swim in schools: a romantic school, an impressionist school, a revisionist school, a neo-classicist school, ad infinitum. These schools will never develop the mass appeal of a societal norm such as the acceptance of technological charge. Where Rogers is safe in predicting the positive and negative relationships of his innovation characteristics on adoption, he does so in describing the tendency of a society - the relationships may not be universally true, but their scope is large. For aesthetic innovations, the operative level is likely to be much smaller. The strongest adherents to school-specific views. may more likely be found in the throughput sector than in the consumer sector, which necessitates further research into the impact of facilitator groups on diffusion.

In sum, there would seem to be promise in drawing aesthetic/utilitarian and facilitator/consumer partitions in the study of the diffusion of innovations. Further research should be done to distinguish the individual impact of aesthetic innovations as product category and facilitators as the perceiving group, which are confounded in the present study.

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