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  • Henk Oudman

The Product Adoption Curve: Insights for Achieving Growth

The Product Adoption Curve is the ideal life cycle of a product.  From innovation through large scale adoption to eventual obsolescence and retirement.  There are pitfalls along the way that can derail this journey and result in the product’s early demise. A major one called “The Chasm" from Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore, occurs between the early adopter and early majority phases of the curve.  The reason why crossing this chasm is so critical is that economic viability tends to really explode when reaching the early majority phase. 


A graph showing the product adoption curve and chasm zone.  Illustrating the lifecycle of a product.

Lighthouse Customers

An early adopter is someone who adopts a new innovation before most of the population, they can visualize the promised outcome. They are thought-leaders, problem solvers, industry visionaries.  They tend to have a genuine need for your product, driven out of a tired way of doing their job-to-be-done. There’s a high chance they’ve been looking for a solution like yours for a while. They’re excited to finally get their hands on it.

 

Early adopters are okay with a few glitches along the way, anything is better than what they had. They're also okay with paying for the product, early adopters are typically financial decision-makers within their businesses. However, they’re expecting to get their money’s worth.  Early adopters need faster time-to-value; they want their “Aha!” moment yesterday, and they expect more personalized support solutions than you can probably handle. By spotlighting the innovation, early adopters lead the way toward wider adoption and help take it into the mainstream.


Mainstream Customers

The early majority is the largest and most promising customer segment within the product lifecycle. Mainstream Customers avoid risk. These users have faith that your product is the one for the job, and after devoted research, have decided to choose your product.


The early majority don’t want any bugs or complications. They have a need, have done the research and have determined your product is the one for them. They expect a straightforward learning curve and that there will be a few instances where support is required. The early majority like to take their time in decision making. They seek out referrals, which is tricky as they run in circles with other early majority users, not early adopters.


For this reason, moving from early adopters to mainstream customers is a big jump.  The early adopters buy the new product as soon as it is available. The early majority buys the commodity version of the product.

 

“One of the most important lessons about crossing the chasm, is that the task ultimately requires achieving an unusual degree of company unity during the crossing period.” Geoffrey Moore

Managing the Evolution

Managing a product in the early adoption stage is quite different from one that is in the early majority stage. Crossing the chasm from early adopters to the mainstream customers represents a substantial leap – from embracing innovation to selecting the commodity version of a product. The leap encompasses differences in branding, methodology, team composition, and value proposition.


Emotional Evolution

The early adopter is all about winning.  They are looking for an edge your product will provide.  They are driven by competitive advantage. The early majority is all about trust and affiliation. They need proof that your product will work and want to belong to that group early adopters.  They follow each other.

 

For early adopters, the brand needs to convey a message that adoption will set them apart from the competition.  Sentiments of bespoke, “tailored to you”, carry a lot of weight. The early majority responds to messages that promote trust and affiliation.  A sense of easy to use, effective, reliable, especially when communicated through testimonials. Brand messaging evolves from setting users apart to emphasize that "It works."

 

Organization Evolution 

As the product transforms from high customization to standardization and moves through the adoption stages, the organization's approach also needs to adapt. The Minimal Viable Organization will under go a strategic shift to evolve with the needs of the business. The shift from innovation-focused, to reliability-centric and from agile methodologies to organizational excellence (lean practices), all play a crucial role in crossing the chasm.


Crossing the chasm is a complex journey that demands strategic planning, adaptability, and a deep understanding of the shifting dynamics. Quicksilver Business Innovation Group stands as a trusted partner, assisting organizations in creating a multi-disciplinary roadmap for successfully navigating this critical phase. By assessing current state, articulating future goals, and implementing a tailored roadmap, organizations can confidently stride across the chasm towards economic viability and sustained success.

 

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