There is this book in the school of Product Management (PM) that everyone either talks about or has heard of. The instructor at my PM course went as far as suggesting that without reading this book, one should not consider her/himself a product manager. That’s a pretty serious claim if you ask me.
After hearing that, I actually didn’t want to read the book because we all know there isn’t a single formula for getting where you want. But since it has been a trending book in the PM field for the past 30 years, I had to pick it up and see what it’s about.
As it turns out, it’s very informative and I figured I might as well share my learnings by summarizing the chapters in my blog.
The author of Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey A. Moore, breaks down product change into two kinds:
- Discontinuous or disruptive innovation forces one to alter their behaviour or the way they use a product.
- Continuous or sustaining innovation leads to ongoing upgrades and improvement which don’t require one to change their behaviour.
Modernization leads to disruptive change. Inevitably change takes over every product and consumer behaviour must adapt accordingly. Enterprises have to learn how to engage themselves with this disruptive change. In the area of managing disruptive change, it’s the High-Tech industries that have substantial experience with the matter. Consequently, enterprises from other industries should be benefiting from their past experience.
Technology Adoption Life Cycle
Consumer purchase behaviour has been based on the consumer’s adaptability to the product’s originality and unconventionality. This factor has lead consumers to be divided into five different categories, namely:
- Early Adopters
- Early Majority
- Late Majority
Innovators are hobbyists looking for their next toy, so realistically there aren’t many of them. But due to the fact that there is only a handful of them who are willing to try new stuff, they hold a significant place in the market.
Early Adopters catch the benefits of a new product early and make their purchasing decision based on their intuition. They are not avid enthusiasts but rather visionaries.
Early Majority are extremely practical people. If the pros outweigh the cons then this group is willing to try the product. The Early Majority are aware of trends vs. fads and choose carefully.
Late Majority are in the waiting game; they want their products to be well-established before they dip their toes in the water. They are not as confident as the early majority with learning new technology and often make purchases from well-established large enterprises.
Laggards are the group who are just not interested to buy new technology due to personal or economic constraints or ideologies. Learning about each group is crucial for marketing a product to them as each group responds differently to disruption.
A marketing model, High Tech Marketing Model refers to the Technology Adaptation Life Cycle as a framework where marketing starts with Innovators and works its way down towards the Laggards. Since going from each consumer group to another is easier said than done, the company must be aware of how to adjust the marketing plan to make the jump from one segment to another. Essentially, the same plan and operations cannot be applied to each market segment.
It’s established that there are differences between each consumer group, causing a gap between them. The gap between the Innovators and the Early Adopters is because the Early Adopters have not yet found practical applications for the new technology. They simply are not aware of how to apply this new technology. And the gap between the Early Majority and the Late Majority is due to the fact that the Late Majority is not interested in learning new technology. The Later market is needier, therefore, the product design has to compensate by being extra intuitive and user-friendly.
Bear in mind, the gap between each group is not the same distance. The largest gap is the one between the Early Adopters and the Early Majority. The gap between the two is so large that the author coins the term chasm in there instead; hence the name of the book. Ha! And the reason for such a chasm is because the Early Adopters are looking for a game-changing product that will help them succeed in their competition against others while the Early Majority, is looking for ways of becoming more productive. So they are less likely to put up with bugs and glitches and rather prefer a smooth transition.
The difference between the two segments does not qualify Early Adopters as a reference for the Early Majority who, in fact, are in need of a reference to make the leap of faith into adopting new technology. They need to see the product work for someone of their own calibre.