I’ve drawn a few different cartoons over the years riffing on Geoffrey Moore’s 1991 classic, “Crossing the Chasm.” I once had the opportunity to give him the original of one of these when we spoke at the same Silicon Valley conference.
Given the faddish nature of conventional wisdom in marketing, I particularly appreciate models like these that can stand the test of time. More than thirty years later, “Crossing the Chasm” is still essential reading for anyone working in entrepreneurial marketing.
Crossing the Chasm is largely based on an even earlier theory of consumer adoption of innovation — Everrett Rogers’ 1962 “Diffusion of Innovations.” The Rogers’ Adoption Curve first mapped a market for innovative product into five consumer segments — Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards.
Moore’s work zeroed in on the Chasm between Early Adopters and the Early Majority that have long bedeviled marketers. What appeals to Early Adopters won’t necessarily lead to customers in the Early Majority.
Sometimes the Chasm is hard to see through the hype. A herd mentality can lead companies to leap like lemmings into the Chasm.
VR and the Metaverse has been a classic recent case in point. Despite heavy investment and attention, Meta’s Oculus platform has struggled to cross the Chasm. Apple’s Vision Pro announcement last month took a very different tack, not even using the terms “Metaverse” and “Virtual Reality.”
In The Findings Report, Laurence Vincent recently wrote a fascinating analysis on the Apple Vision Pro as a case study on “the art of reframing expectations to cross the chasm.” As he put it:
“By positioning Vision Pro as an integral component of the Apple ecosystem you’ve come to rely upon, Apple is reframing expectations. Despite CEO Tim Cook’s proclamation that the device is “revolutionary,” what Apple really did was pitch the faithful on an experimental approach to get more from existing Apple devices and platforms.
“While Zuckerberg wants you to leave the world you know to explore the metaverse, Apple wants to make its ecosystem more seamlessly integrated into your real world…
“Apple’s positioning of the device as a new kind of computer also affects the product’s targeting strategy. It is likely to be more mainstream than the existing consumers of VR technology. Rather than identifying as hard-core gamers, Apple’s device will likely attract the company’s super-users who have demonstrated in the past that they can drive downstream adoption.”
It remains to be seen if Apple will find more success than Meta at crossing the Chasm. But all marketers can learn from how they’re setting up to take the leap.
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years: