Crossing the Chasm

Topics: Crossing the Chasm, Marketing, Innovation Pages: 7 (1916 words) Published: July 8, 2014
266

PART 1WO: DESIGN AND EVOlUTION OF TECHNOlOGY STRATEGY

EXHIBIT 1 TheTechnologyAdoption Life Cycle.

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Virtually all contemporary thinking about high-tech
marketing strategy has its roots in the Technology
Adoption Ute Cycle, a model which ll'ew out of
social research begun in the late 1950s about how
communities respolKtto discontinuous innovations.
Truly discontinuous innovations are new products
or services that require the end user and the marketplace to dramatically change their past behavior, with the promise of gaining equally dramatic new
benefits. Applied to marketing, the model postulates
that when a marketplace is confronted with the opportunity to switch to a new infrastructure paradigm-from typewriters, say, to word processorscustomers self-segregate along an axis of risk aversion, with the risk-immune innovators moving to

the forefront, asking-even demanding-to be first
to try out the new opportunity, while the risk-allergic
laggards retreat to the rear of the line (quills still
finnly in hand). In between, the model identifies
three additional communities-the early adopters.
early majority, and later majority.
Graphically, the model is represented as a bell
curve (Exhibit I):
Each of the segmentsin the bell curve representsa
standarddeviation from the nonn. Thus the early and
late majority are one standard deviation from the
nonn, eachcomprising about a third of the total population, while the early adoptersand laggards are two and the innovatorsthreestandarddeviations away.The
idea is that changewill be adopted from left to right,
with eachconstituencycorning to the fore in sequence.
Prior to encountering this model, high-tech marketers were in desperateneed of help. Most of us had

grown up in a businessenvironment where excellence
in marketing was defined in reference to Procter &
Gamble. In attempting to apply that company's approach to high tech, we were thrashing about miserably. In particular, the tools for marketing communicationsjust weren't working right, and whenever we went to people for advice, they kept chastising us for

making our messages long, too complicated, and,
too
well, too nerdy. When the Technology Adoption Life
Cycle came upon the scene, we were delighted, becauseit helped explain why our communications got suchenthusiasticresponsesfrom somecustomersand
suchchilly onesfrom others.
In order to makethis model truly ours, we relabeled
eachof the five constituenciesas follows:

1. Innovators = Technology enthusiasts. These are
people who are fundamentally committed to new
technology on the grounds that, sooneror later, it is
bound to improve our lives. Moreover, they take
pleasurein mastering its intricacies,just in fiddling
with it, and they love to get their handson the latest and greatestinnovation. And thus they are typically the first customers for anything that is truly brand-new.
Virtually all organizations support techies. In
your own family there is likely to be one-and only
one-person who can program the answering machine, set the clock on the VCR. and figure out the espressomachine. Same is true at the office. Who

INDUSTRYCONTEXT
267

do you go to when you can't get the computer to
work right? That is your techie.
From a marketing point of view, particularly in
business-to-business
sales, there is really only one
drawback to techies: they don't have any money.
What they have instead is influence. The reasonwe
spend so much time with them is that they are the
gatekeepersto the rest of the life cycle. If they pan
a new product, no one else gives that product a
second glance. Only with their endorsementcan a
discontinuous innovation get a hearing, and so we
often "seed" (read "give") products to this community to gain their support. 2. Early...
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