Idea Diffusion Curve

Idea Diffusion Curve

Geoffrey Moore popularized the idea/innovation diffusion theory in his book, Crossing the Chasm (Harper Business, 1991) when he described how new products and services developed by high-technology companies are adopted by a population.  In general, ideas follow a curve.  Moore describes the various population stages of the curve as innovators, early adopters, early/late majority and laggards.  The “chasm” refers to bridging the gap between the early adopters and the early/late majority (or mainstream).  The population stages of the curve include:

1 – Innovators (2.5%). People who want to be the first to have a new product. Innovators often use beta offerings and are willing to look past initial quality issues. They are also called technology enthusiasts.

2 – Early Adopters (13.5%). People who seek new products to maintain an edge over others. This population is highly influential and willing to spend money. They are also called visionaries.

3 – Early/Late Majority (64.0%). People not actively looking for new products, but when enough of their peers use them, they will too. This population is the largest and most profitable. They are also called pragmatists/conservatives.

4 – Laggards. (16.0%). People who are adapters. They do not use a new product until what they have been using becomes impractical or obsolete. They are also called skeptics.

The majority of people are content.  They are not looking to replace their existing products or service with anything new.  Your primary chance of success then is to market and sell to people who embrace change – early adopters.  Early adopters actively look for new products and services.  Early adopters influence (sell to) the rest of the curve, including the early/late majority (64% of the population). Targeting early adopters first is far more effective than targeting the other groups.  The value of a population group is not related to its size, but its influence.

The majority of sales occur after products and services are being used by early adopters.  Early adopters make the early/late majority feel safe to buy.  Marketing to the early/late majority first is ineffective because the level of change or disruption is often too great.  In addition, the mainstream looks to early adopters for direction.  Thus, creating an energized early adopter base is critical for new products or services to cross the chasm.  New products and services must be remarkable enough to attract early adopters, but flexible enough to be adopted by the mainstream.

All contents copyright © 2012, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.


One Response to Idea Diffusion Curve

  1. Louie Tennon says:

    One of my key salespeople recommended your blog. Interesting posts.


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