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Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers

Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers

4.3 23
by Geoffrey A. Moore

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Here is the bestselling guide that created a new game plan for marketing in high-tech industries. Crossing the Chasm has become the bible for bringing cutting-edge products to progressively larger markets. This edition provides new insights into the realities of high-tech marketing, with special emphasis on the Internet. It's essential reading for anyone


Here is the bestselling guide that created a new game plan for marketing in high-tech industries. Crossing the Chasm has become the bible for bringing cutting-edge products to progressively larger markets. This edition provides new insights into the realities of high-tech marketing, with special emphasis on the Internet. It's essential reading for anyone with a stake in the world's most exciting marketplace.

Editorial Reviews

GIS World Inc. Staff
One of the most thought-provoking books on technology marketing...Moore throws outmoded marketing ideas out the window to clear space for the special realities of the high-tech market.
Computer Letter
Geoff Moore's book is full of good medicine for bad marketing.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Collins Business Essentials Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.26(w) x 8.04(h) x 0.61(d)

Read an Excerpt

High-Tech Marketing


As the revised edition of this book is being written, it is 1998, and for this time we have seen a commercial release of the electric car. General Motors makes one, and Ford and Chrysler are sure to follow. Let's assume the cars work like any other, except they are quieter and better for the environment. Now the question is: When are you going to buy one?

The Technology Adoption Life Cycle

Your answer to the preceding question will tell a lot about how you relate to the Technology Adoption Life Cycle., a model for understanding the acceptance of new products. If your answer is, "Not until hell freezes over," you are probably a very late adopter of technology, what we call in the model a laggard. If your answer is, "When I have seen electric cars prove themselves and when there are enough service stations on the road," you might be a middle-of-the-road adopter, or in the model, the early majority. If you say, "Not until most people have made the switch and it becomes really inconvenient to drive a gasoline car," you are probably more of a follower, a member of the late majority. If, on the.other hand, you want to be the first one on your block with an electric car, you are apt to be an innovator or an early adopter.

In a moment we are going to take a look at these labels in greater detail, but first we need to understand their significance. It turns out our attitude toward technology adoption becomes significant—at least in a marketing sense—any time we are introduced to products that require us to change our current mode of behavior or to modify otherproducts and services we rely on. In academic terms, such change-sensitive products are called discontinuous innovations. The contrasting term, continuous innovations, refers to the normal upgrading, of products that does not require us to change behavior.

For example, when Crest promises you whiter teeth, that is a continuous innovation. You still are brushing the same teeth in the same way with the same toothbrush. When Ford's new Taurus promises better mileage, when Dell's latest computer promises faster processing times and more storage space, or when Sony promises sharper and brighter TV pictures, these are all continuous innovations. As a consumer, you don't have to change your ways in order to take advantage of these improvements.

On the other hand, if the Sony were a high-definition TV, it would be incompatible with today's broadcasting standards, which,would require you to seek out special sources of programming. This would be a discontinuous innovation because you would have to change your normal TV-viewing behavior. Similarly if the new Dell computer were to come with the Be operating system, it would be incompatible with today's software base. Again, you would be required to seek out a whole new set of software, thereby classifying this too as a discontinuous innovation. Or if the new Ford car, as we just noted, required electricity instead of gasoline, or if the new toothpaste were a mouthwash that did riot use a toothbrush, then once again you would have a product incompatible with your current infrastructure of supporting components. In all these cases, the innovation demands significant changes by not only the consumer but also the infrastructure. That, is how and why such innovations come to be called discontinuous.

Between continuous and discontinuous hes a spectrum of demands for change. TV dinners, unlike microwave dinners, didnot require the purchase of a new oven, but they did require the purchase of more freezer space. Color-TV programming did not, like VCRs, require 'mvestinr in and mastering a new technology, but they did require buying a new TV and learmng more about turning and antennas than many of us wanted to learn. The special washing instructions for certain fabrics, the special street lanes reserved for bicycle riders, the special dialing instructions for calling overseas—all represent some new level of demand on the consumer to absorb a chdn e in behavior. Sooner or later, all businesses must make these demands. And so it is that all businesses can profit,by lessons, from high-tech industries.

Whereas other industries introduce discontinuous innovations only occasionally and with much trepidation, high-tech en@ terprises do so routinely and as confidently as a born-again Christian holding four aces. From their inception, therefore, high-tech industries needed a marketing model that coped effectively with this type of product introduction. Thus the Technology Adoption Life Cycle became central to the entire sector's approach to marketing. (People are usually amused to learn that the original research that gave rise to this model was done. on the adoption of new strains of seed potatoes among American farmers. Despite these,agrarian roots, however, the model has thoroughly transplanted itself into the soil of Silicon Valley.)

The model describes the market penetration of any new technology product in terms. of a progression in the types of consumers it attract throughout its useful life:

As you can see, we have a bell curve. The divisions in the curve are roughly equivalent to where standard deviations would fall. That is, the early majority and the late majority fall within one standard deviation of the mean, the early adopters and the laggards within two, and way out there, at the very onset of a new technology, about three standard deviations from the norm, are the innovators.

The groups are distinguished from each other by their characteristic response to a discontinuous innovation based on a new technology. Each group represents a unique psychographic profile—a combination of psychology and demographics that makes it marketing responses different from those of the other groups. Understanding each profile and its relationship to its neighbors is a critical component of high-tech marketing lore.

What People are Saying About This

James A. Unruh
"Crossing the Chasm truly addresses the subtleties of high-tech marketing. We have embraced many of the concepts in the book and it has become a 'bestseller' with Unisys."
William V. Campbell
"Must reading for anybody in high tech."
Robert K. Weller S.V.P.
"Crossing the Chasm should be the Bible for high-tech companies looking for direction with marketing and distribution challenges. Geoff's model corresponds directly to the launch of Lotus Notes and continues to shape our marketing programs."
Jim Kouzes
"If you find yourself wondering why it is that the majority of potential buyers for your newest breakthrough technology are not as enthusiastic as your early adopters, read this book or risk joining the others at the bottom of the high-tech abyss."
Jeff Miller
"Must read for marketing executives, CEOs, and especially venture capitalists."
Dick Shaffer
"Geoff Moore's book is full of good medicine for bad marketing."

Meet the Author

Geoffrey A. Moore is the author of Escape Velocity, Inside the Tornado, and Living on the Fault Line.

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Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
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chessnut98 More than 1 year ago
A great book for anyone interested in new ideas, new products, and bringing new things to the world. Though most case studies are framed for high tech, there are great lessons for anyone who wants to build a business from new ideas and products.
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This is a classic must-read for all people involved in product strategy for high-technology. Published in 1991 and updated in 1999, it introduced a very innovative way of how technology is adopted by different segments in the market. The book goes beyond theoretical models and really offers almost hands-on, very systematic (!) approach on what the optimal steps are to market and sell your technology, and this depending on where your product is in the Technology Adoption Life Cycle. If you haven't read it yet, don't hesitate any longer. Seriously. If you're short of time (hey - the book is only about 200 pages...) then I suggest you read the summary (free download, google it or check my blog www.techopath.com for the link) from the nice people at Parker Hill Technology - but you will miss out on a great read by doing so.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Must read for everyone - especially for those who are techy and want to cross the chasm and get into sales & marketing of IT products or services.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book helped me in understanding the marketing side of a technical product. The author has done a good job in explaining the marketing strategies and tactics for crossing the 'chasm'- which separates the early market and the mainstream market. As the author talks about 'whole product model', this book will be helpful even for developers (who would help in designing a 'whole product'). This book is not just for marketing specialists but also for all employees whose futures depend on the success of a technical product. I recommend this book very highly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Crossing the Chasm deserves more than five stars for putting 'a vocabulary to a market development problem that has given untold grief to any number of high-tech enterprises.' Crossing the Chasm is the most influential book about high technology in the last 10 years. When I meet with CEOs of the most successful high technology firms, this is the book that they always bring up. What most people do not realize is that Geoffrey Moore did an excellent update of the book in a revised edition in 1999. If you liked the original, you will like the revision even more. It contains many better and more up-top-date examples, and explores several new ways that companies have crossed the chasm that he had not yet observed in 1991 when the original came out (such as 'piggybacking,' the way that Lotus 1-2-3 built from VisiCalc's initial success). If you plan to work or invest in any high technology companies, you owe it to yourself to read and understand this book. The understanding won't be hard, because the material is clear and well articulated. The book's focus is on a well-known psychological trait (referred to as Social Proof in Influence by Robert Cialdini). There is a potential delay in people using new things 'based on a tendency of pragmatic people to adopt new technology when they see other people like them doing the same.' As a result, companies must concentrate on cracking the right initial markets in a segmented way to get lots of references and a bandwagon effect going. One market segment will often influence the next one. Crossing the Chasm is all about how to select and attack the right segments. Many companies fail because innovators and early adopters are very interested in new technology and opportunities to create setrategic breakthroughs based on technology. As a result, these customers are not very demanding how easy it is to use the new technology. To cross the chasm, these companies must primarily appeal to the 'Early Majority' of pragmatists who want the whole solution to work without having to be assembled by them and to enhance their productivity right away. If you wait too long to commercialize the product or service in this way, you will see your sales shrivel after a fast start with the innovators and early adopters. The next group you must appeal to are the Late Majority, who want to wait until you are the new standard and these people are very price sensitive. Many U.S. high technology companies also fail to make the transitions needed to satisfy this large part of the market (usually one-third of demand). The final group is technology adverse, and simply hopes you will go away (the Laggards). The book describes its principles in terms of D-Day. While that metaphor is apt, I wonder how well people under 35 know D-Day. In the next revision, I suggest that Desert Storm or some more recent metaphor be exchanged for this one. The book's key weakness is that it tries to homogenize high technology markets too much. Rather than present this segmentation as immutable, it would have been a good idea to provide ways to test the form of the psychological attitudes that a given company will face. The sections on how to do scenario thinking about potential segments to serve first are the best parts of the book. Be sure you do these steps. That's where most of the book's value will come for you. Otherwise, all you will have added is a terminology for describing how you failed to cross the chasm. I also commend the brief sections on how finance, research, and development, and human resources executives need to change their behavior in order to help the enterprise be more successful in crossing the chasm. After you finish reading and employing the book, I suggest that you also think about what other psychological perceptions will limit interest in and use of your new developments. You have more chasms to cross than simply the psychological orientation towards technology. You also have to dea
Guest More than 1 year ago
I feel that this book will be very helpful to someone that is in the market already. For someone that has no experience, this book doesn't really make a lot of sense. Although it will help us prepare for any problem that will be faced. When and if I do go into marketing, I would definetly read this book again. I would recomend this book for someone in the field of marketing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really liked the book. It was helpful in getting to know how marketing affects how successful a company will be.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book was not only interesting, but very informative. As a college student I have not been around the workplace to see how marketing really affects a company, but this book has opened my eyes to the truth about how a company must market its product to stay alive. The examples are great and I will definitely read this book over in the future!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a team member in a company innovation initiative program and found this book very educational. The idea of learning from the innovator and early adopter markets ought to be explored and learned from vigorously before going into the early majority markets. It will put you in a better poisition than otherwise.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A brilliant analysis of the problems facing high-tech marketers. Why can¿t you leverage an early adopter success into a mainstream success? This book gives a very down-to-earth psycographic description of the different types of buyers a high-tech company faces at different stages of the technology adoption cycle. An excellent D-day strategy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book opened for me a world of business. As a technical person I've been always quite skeptical about this whole management / marketing / sales thing, my perception of it was 'much ado about nothing'. Out of necessity I had to start learning this area: starting my own high-tech start-up. This is the first business book that goes beyond shallow facts and obvious ideas, the author is extremely smart and knowledgeable person who has a great logic and sense of language, the whole thing reads like a fiction book. Must read for anyone starting his/her own business.