Crossing the Chasm

Based on the classic bell curve distribution of technology adoption, Crossing the Chasm is a concept for how different groups of customers are willing to adopt a new technology.

The Technology Adoption Life Cycle

In 1962, Everett Rogers carried out extensive market studies and developed a model that is known today as the Technology Adoption Life Cycle. The model describes how new technology is adopted or accepted in different customer groups, including a quantitative assessment of the size of these groups:
  • Innovators are technology enthusiasts. They actively pursue new products and technologies and are willing to sacrifice on convenience or product performance.
  • Early adopters, like innovators, are also visionaries however not for the technology’s sake but they aim for achieving some breakthrough in business.
  • The early majority are more pragmatic than early adopters. While they are generally open for innovation, they first want to see some proof that it is working.
  • The late majority is already conservative. They believe more in tradition than in progress and, hence, will very much rely on established technology only.
  • Laggards, finally, are total skeptics. They try to refrain from new technology whenever possible and always worry about unintended consequences.

While originally developed in the agricultural domain, the model has been widely adapted for many areas of technology.

Crossing the Chasm

As an extension of the above model, Geoffrey Moore emphasized the challenge that companies are facing when they are introducing disruptive innovations: They need to grow beyond just the early enthusiasts & visionaries and overcome the chasm to convince customers in the mainstream market:

To achieve that, it is important to deliver a holistic product experience rather than focusing on pure technology. The pragmatic customers of the early majority will demand products without any major flaws, with a well-designed experience, and relevant complimentary services.

To increase the chances of success, a company should segment the target market, identify its ideal customer profile, and focus on these customers first.