Naga Chokkanathan

Why Not? — Crossing The Chasm

Posted on: December 31, 2010

This is the age of overnight successes. But not all products (software / other) follow this pattern, most of them go through a lifecycle, which may be short or long depending on various factors. For every ‘instant hit’, there are 99 other products reaching the maturity / success slowly or losing out somewhere in between the journey.

Typically, there are five segments of people who use a product, in various stages of its lifecycle. They are:

  • Innovators (Those who jump and buy any new gadget, even if its slightly(?) buggy. They want to be in the front seat of this journey, always, and wouldn’t mind disappointments / failures.)
  • Early Adopters (Same as Innovators, But a bit cautious in their approach, want to think and analyze a bit before buying something)
  • Early Majority (Let someone else use the product and recommend it, I can wait till it is accepted widely!)
  • Late Majority (Oh, Is it a super hit product? Then I must buy it!)
  • Laggards (Duh!)

Obviously, a product developer / marketer can’t reach-out to all these segments at the same time. It will be picked by Innovators first, Slowly it will be spread to Early Adopters (mostly via word of mouth / other forms of social advertisements), If the product is really good, it will reach the Early Majority and that’s when we can call it a success!

Unfortunately, Most of the products don’t cross this gap between Early Adopters and Early Majority. They vanish somewhere in between – Mainly because these two groups have totally different kinds of needs. If you follow the same strategy to attract both of them, it is not going to work.

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Marketing Guru & Technology Consultant Dr. Geoffrey Moore calls this gap (between Early Adopters and Early Majority) as “Chasm”. He argues that product companies should use different techniques to cross this Chasm, if they want to get into the Majority zone and make money. His book “Crossing The Chasm” explains various techniques that may be used / combined / adopted based on the product / market / other factors.

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Interestingly, even software deployment projects go through this cycle in terms of user adoption / change management. There are innovators who accept the new changes eagerly, early adopters who follow and it takes considerable time / effort / strategy to cross the chasm between Early Adopters and reach out the Early Majority, then only the implementation reaches a successful milestone and starts getting the ROI. This chasm-crossing is a phase worth investing our time and energy in!



N. Chokkan …

31 12 2010


2 Responses to "Why Not? — Crossing The Chasm"

Dear Chokkan: Wonderful and useful information. In today’s world, where the ROI determines the companies strategy, there are many MNCs which have either the strategy or the patience to over come the barriers in entry to market. This could also explain why start-up’s are becoming the breeding ground for innovative products.

BTW, CRM means customer relationship management? Sorry I am not familiar with this lingo…

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