Crossing the Chasm

Title: Crossing the Chasm
Author: Geoffrey A Moore
Softcover: 256 Pages
Publisher: HarperBusiness; Revised edition (August, 2002)
ISBN: 006051712

I keep coming back to this book whenever I need to build a product or new service; between this book, Under Pressure and On Time and The Innovator’s Dilemma, you have a good beginning marketing reading list. The following image comes from p. 17 of the book:

Mr. Moore describes these groups of customers/clients clearly, so I quote from p. 12 – 13 of his book:

“Innovators pursue new technology products aggressively. They sometimes seek them out even before a formal marketing program has been launched. This is because technology is a central interest in their life, regardless of what fimction it is performing. At root they are intrigued with any fundamental advance and often make a technology purchase simply for the pleasure of exploring the new device’s properties. There are not very many innovators in any given market segment, but winning them over at the outset of a marketing campaign is key nonetheless, because their
endorsement reassures the other players in the marketplace does in fact work.

“Early adopters, like innovators, buy into new product concepts very early in their life cycle, but unlike innovators, they are not technologists. Rather they are people who find it easy to imagine, understand, and appreciate the benefits of a new technology, and to relate these potential benefits to their other concerns. Whenever they find a strong match, early adopters are willing to base their buying decisions upon it. Because early adopters do not rely on well-established references in making these buying decisions, preferring instead to rely on their own intuition and
vision, they are key to opening up any high-tech market segment.

“The early majority share some of the early adoptees ability to relate to technology, but ultimately they are driven by a strong sense of practicality. They know that many of these newfangled inventions end up as passing fads, so they are content to wait and see how other people are making out before they buy in themselves. They want to see well-established references before investing substantially. Because there are so many people in this segment – roughly one-third of the whole adoption life cycle – winning their business is key to any substantial profits and growth.

“The late majority shares all the concerns of the early majority, plus one major additional one: Whereas people in the early majority are comfortable with their ability to handle a technology product, should they finally decide to purchase it, members of the late majority are not. As a result, they wait until something has become an established standard, and even then they want to see lots of support and tend to buy, therefore, from large, well-established companies. Like the early majority, this group comprises about one-third of the total buying population in any given segment. Courting its favor is highly profitable indeed, for while profit margins decrease as the products mature, so do the selling costs, and virtually all the R&D costs have been amortized.

“Finally there are the laggards. These people simply don’t want anything to do with new technology, for any of a variety of reasons, some personal and some economic. The only time they ever buy a technological product is when it is buried so deep inside another product – the way, say, that a microprocessor is designed into the braking system of a new car – that they don’t even know it is there. Laggards are generally regarded as not worth pursuing on any other basis.

“To recap the logic of the Technology Adoption Life Cycle, its underlying thesis is that technology is absorbed into any given community in stages corresponding to the psychological and social profiles of various segments within that community. This process can be thought of as a continuum with definable stages, each associated with a definable group, and each group making up a predictable portion of the whole.”

I return to this over and over again:

“….Our focus should be on the minimum commitment to whole product needed to
cross the chasm.” (p. 113) The big goal here is to figure out what makes this
product compelling to buy, and then finding the fastest, cheapest way to get
those additions surrounding the core product. For example, if you need to do a
new program, consider what you need to go along with the program to make it
complete. Did you consider training? How about consulting help to get things
rolling? How will marketing work? Thinking along these lines helps turn a raw
product into a complete product ready for the early majority (ready to try to
cross the chasm).”

The following diagram is from p. 135:

This diagram shows how the focus of the client changes as we move our product along the Technology Adoption LifeCycle. The focus of a company needs to change as a product moves along its lifecycle – this is often why the people that start a long-term (crosses the chasm), successful company are rarely there when it finally goes away.

On page 150, Mr. Moore suggests four aspects of product positioning:

  1. Name it and frame it
  2. Who for and what for
  3. Competition and differentiation
  4. Financials and futures

Each develops as we move along the product lifecycle. Moore provides some help with suggestions of things to consider in each of the areas:

This diagram is from p. 157.


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One Comment

  1. Palmer Tichi
    7:03 am on January 12th, 2012

    Enjoying your posts here my friend. Your help and advice is fantastic. When will you be writing once more?

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