How new technologies are being adopted in the market? What is the Chasm?

Every new technology and product experience an adoption life cycle by the market. In an attempt to understand this process better in particular for high tech products and technologies, Geoffrey A. Moore had studied this thoroughly. the outcome of his research is a term that is well known today among every professional who works in the technology field and it is the chasm.

So what is this Chasm and what is its meaning for the business world? How should we as innovation practitioners should address it? For all of these and more I will try to answer in this post.

diffusion

According to Joe M. Bohlen, George M. Beal and Everret M. Rogers, every new technology is being adopted by the environment in accordance to the innovation adoption life cycle.

As shown in the figure above there are 5 different groups among the innovation’s adopters:

  1. Innovators– These are the first adopters of the innovation. Usually they will be younger in age and will be willing to take risks. Also, they will have the financial fluidity that will enable them to purchase these innovation, and they will be usually connected to the researchers that invents these innovations. Finally, these individuals are usually very social as well and hence have the ability to pass on the innovations to their social groups.
  2. Early Adopters – These individuals will adopt the innovation after the innovators. They will usually have a high social status so others will try to imitate them (and that will assist in diffusing the innovation among society). They are more educated and also have the financial fluidity needed to take risks and explore new innovations. An important component of their involvement in the exploration of new innovation is their interest in maintaining their social status.
  3. Early Majority – Individuals from this group adopt the innovation after a longer range of time than the Innovators and the Early adopters (and this is the Chasm). They have an above average social status and obviously a connection to the Early adopters who expose them to the innovations.
  4. Late Majority  People from this group tend to adopt the innovation after the average member in the society. Usually, they will show very little opinion leadership and will pretty much go with the flow. Usually, they tend to be very skeptical about technology and will be below average in social status. Furthermore, their financial fluidity will be much lower than the previous social groups.
  5. Laggards – This group’s individuals will adopt innovations last. obviously they will show no opinion leadership regarding these matters and will be very risk averse. Furthermore, they tend to be older than the previous groups, lowest in their social status and with the least financial fluidity.

The Chasm

So after understanding what Roggers et al. defined in terms of social adoption we can talk about Moore’s development. Moore claims that there is a gap between the early adopters and the early majority (as shown below). This gap is what he and other professionals in the field refer to as the chasm.

Chasm

According to their perspective, the chasm is what defines success or failures to new ventures. If a company will succeed in crossing the chasm, it will be adopted by the market. That means that once an innovation will be adopted by  more than ~16% of the market its probability to succeed will grow dramatically.

Real World Implications

Due to the importance of the chasm for success, many company aim to cross it in the best possible way. Therefore, a wide range of companies will invest heavily in the Early adopters group in order to position themselves better towards the next phase. Others will try to attract the Early majority with various strategies so they would adopt their innovations and assist them in crossing the chasm successfully.

Conclusion

The innovation product life cycle assist a lot in understanding your potential market and plan how to capture it in best. In order to succeed in that task, the chasm is another concept that can help you to plan. Mainly in understanding one of the most important steps in diffusing the product among your customers. Once you’ve crossed that it doesn’t mean that you will succeed for sure, however it does mean that you will be much closer to success.

 

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