3 learnt Lessons In Crossing The Chasm


Lesson (1)- Understand The Technology Adoption Life Cycle


The technology adoption life cycle describes the market penetration of any new technology product in terms of a progression in the types of consumers it attracts throughout its useful life. The following is a brief description of the technology adoption life cycle:

  • The buyer groups for any new technology product consist of:  innovators (Techies), early adopters (Visionaries), early majority (Pragmatists), late majority (Conservative) and laggard (Skeptics).
  • The Technology adoption life cycle is a bell curve equivalent to the probability distribution and standard deviation models. The early majority and late majority (market mainstreams) fall within one standard deviation around the mean (70% of market segment); where, the early adopters (visionaries) and laggards (skeptics) fall outside the significance of acceptance.
  • Each group of prospective buyers represents unique psychographic profile, that makes the market responds differently.
  • Each group is separated from the adjacent group through a crack or chasm. The biggest chasm is the one that separates visionaries (early adopters) from pragmatists (early majority).
  • Innovators (enthusiasts): Pursue new technology product aggressively and sometimes before it is formally launched in a market. They are a technology-center interest and not a functional-center interest. They usually buy technology for a pleasure of exploring the new device’s properties. They are very few but important testimonials for the following buying group the early adopters (visionaries). In summary, they are technies who care to further develop the technology to be used by innovators for end-user product development.
  • Early adopters (visionaries): they are after the product concept at very early life cycle of the technology product and not after the technology. They find the product easy to imagine, understand and appreciate the benefits of new technology. They don’t often rely on other buying references but on their intuition and vision, they are core to opening up any high-tech market segment. In summary, they are business-funded (investors) who develop the technology into a useful product based on their business vision.
  • Early majority (pragmatist): They are driven by a strong sense of practicality and believe that these new inventions end up as passing fads so they are concerned to wait and see how other people are making out before they buy. They want to see real buying references before they buy. They are one-third of the market segment. Winning their business is fundamental to any substantial profit and growth.
  • Late majority (conservative): they are similar to the early majority plus one major additional one, whereas early majority have the ability to handle the technology but the late majority will mostly depend on the technology providers. They also prefer to wait until something has become an established standard. They are comprising one-third of the market segment. They are much concern about the low pricing and technically supported offering.
  • Laggard (skeptics): they don’t want anything to do with the new technology and they buy it only when it becomes very cheap, impeded in other classical product or when no other options to buy except this technological product.

Lesson (2)- Discovering The Chasm



There are several cracks between innovators and early adopters and between the early majority and late majority and the major crack or chasm is the one falls between the early adopter and early majority.

  • First crack: it takes place between innovator and early adopters, when a hot technology product is not yet readily translated into a major new benefit (it is a good architecture technology but nobody else can even figure out how to start using it). It happens between technologist and investor based on different requirements and views.
  • Another crack: it takes place between the early majority and late majority where technology product will be cheaper, easy, guaranteed and standard to use with a major technical support of the supplier. It happens between pragmatists and conservative based on different requirements and views.
  • Discovering the chasm: the biggest and formidable crack (chasm) is the one takes place between the early adopters (visionaries) and the early majority (pragmatists) due to the differences between the product centered ( visionary way of thinking) and the market centered (marketing and buying way of thinking). Early adopters aim at developing the product with a dream vision but the early majority aims at getting the benefits of this hot technology product as they are pragmatist and look for a practical and useful solutions to their needs.. Early majority want to buy a productivity improvement for existing operations. Early majority will look for minimizing discontinuity with the old way. It happens due moving from a business vision into a real competitive market conditions.


Lesson (3)- Crossing The Chasm


For every new technology product or startup, it will be successful if they managed to cross the chasm and dominate the market mainstreams. Crossing the chasm is not easy and will require special arrangements and a genuine marketing strategy. Entering the mainstream market (early majority and late majority) is an act of aggression. The strategy is to replicate the D-Day and win entry the mainstream. The WWII has ended after allies invaded Normandy (D-Day) and moved forward to the adjacent territories. You should think and penetrate a beachhead market with a buying-centric marketing strategy.

The following are key steps to cross the chasm:

  • Target market niche: The fundamental principle for crossing the chasm is to target a specific niche market as your point of start and focus on it.
  • Segmentation and selection: Divide the market into subset segments and choose the most suitable one based on certain criteria (market size of niche, their accessibility to distribution, level of competition, ability to buy and matching needs for the whole product).  
  • validation: To reach into a suitable decision on the right market niche and customer segment, you will need a well research and validated information on the beachhead market, customer segment, competition and others.
  • Articulation of a marketing strategy: The necessity to develop a marketing strategy that takes in consideration the following details:

         a. Describe the target segment (customers):

Is there a single, identified economic buyer for this offer?

Are they readily accessible to the sales channels?

Are the well-funded to pay the price for the whole product?

Is the target market niche big enough to achieve your growing sales and profit?

Is your target buyer’s buying cycle well-defined and you are capable to fulfill? Details should cover: knowing the product, who for, why to buy, competition & differentiation (core features), financials & future.

Have you well-defined the customer profile? Details should cover: full  description of the personal and professional background, pains, gains, job aims, priorities and motivating drivers, etc.

Have you defined and visualized the target customer persona?

  • b.  Investigate on the compelling reason to buy:

Do the target customers have the compelling reasons to buy your product or not?

Can the early majority live with the problem for another year or they want it desperately?

c.  Your product offering should be the whole product:

Do you have the whole product that a customer want ready to offer with the support of allies and partners?

Whole product is a package of generic product, expected product, desired and potential product.

d.  You have the partners & allies to make and deliver the whole product:

Do you already have relationships and partnership to fulfill the whole product?

Do you have full plan about the whole product and plans for realisation?

e.  You have selected the suitable distribution channels:

Do you have sale channels in place that can call on the target customers and fulfill the whole product requirements?

Customer oriented channels: direct sales, web-based, sale forces and others.

f.  You have developed an acceptable pricing strategy:

Is the price strategy matching the budget and perception of the target buyer for the whole product and doable through applied sale distribution?

Is your pricing acceptable by the target buyers? And is it validated with target customers?

Choose between the customer-oriented pricing (target sales divided on no of transactions) and distributed-oriented pricing (cost, market basis, margin of distributor and profit margins).

g.  Competition- Don’t enter a market with existing significant competitors:

Has this problem already been addressed by another company (competitor)?

Is your competitive strategy prepared and tested?

h.  Plan with evidences your competitive positioning:

Is the company credible as a provider of products and services to the target niche?

It should consist of details on your claiming for offering, evidences, communication and feedback & adjusting.

i.  What is next- plan for the next target customer:

If we are successful to satisfy the target segment, is it possible to move toward adjacent segments and win additional deals?

j.  Demand creation:

Have you develop an advertising and communication plan targeting demand creation?

k.  Management and control:

Have we planned resource requirements and means of acquisition?

Have we had the resource management in place?

Have we planned the control activities, including KPIs, monitoring and control?


Written by: Munther Al Dawood

Enterprise Development Services




Main source: Moore, G. 2013. Crossing the chasm, 3rd edition.




Categories entrepreneurship, finance for startup, funding for startups, startup, Uncategorized

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