Innovation Diffusion and Adoption

User Pull vs Technology Push

We are very much focused on understanding demand-pull in the work we are doing with WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development.) There are a number of models for characterizing diffusion/adoption of innovation. One potentially provocative one is Geoffrey Moore’s version of the classic technology diffusion curve. While it is applied mainly for technology innovation, it also is useful for thinking about adoption of social innovation.

See it in this attached ppt: crossing the chasm

It reminds us to think not of how to swing large populations all at once but how to identify and connect with the early adopters who will, in turn, pull through the following majorities. It also reminds us that building insight into the values, beliefs, practices and motivators of those early adopters is crucial to designing (in particular co-designing) new product, service, communication and social policy offerings.

Emerging and crowded markets require user pull to cross the chasm, according to Geoffrey A. Moore in his books Crossing the Chasm and Dealing with Darwin. In Crossing the Chasm, Moore begins with the diffusion of innovations theory from Everett Rogers, and argues there is a chasm between the early adopters of the product (the technology enthusiasts and visionaries) and the early majority (the pragmatists). Moore believes visionaries and pragmatists have very different expectations, and he attempts to explore those differences and suggest techniques to successfully cross the “chasm,” including choosing a target market, understanding the whole product concept, positioning the product, building a marketing strategy, choosing the most appropriate distribution channel and pricing. Crossing the Chasm is closely related to the Technology adoption lifecycle where five main segments are┬árecognized; innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. According to Moore, the marketer should focus on one group of customers at a time, using each group as a base for marketing to the next group. The most difficult step is making the transition between visionaries (early adopters) and pragmatists (early majority). This is the chasm that he refers to. If a successful firm can create a bandwagon effect in which the momentum builds and the product becomes a de facto standard. However, Moore’s theories are only applicable for disruptive or discontinuous innovations. Adoption of continuous innovations (that do not force a significant change of behavior by the customer) are still best described by the original Technology adoption lifecycle. Confusion between continuous and discontinuous innovation is a leading cause of failure for high tech products.

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