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Crossing the Chasm

Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers

By Geoffrey A. Moore
15-minute read
Audio available
Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey A. Moore

Crossing the Chasm (1991) examines the market dynamics faced by innovative new products, particularly the daunting chasm that lies between early to mainstream markets.

The book provides tangible advice on how to make this difficult transition and offers real-world examples of companies that have struggled in the chasm.

  • Anyone working within the high tech industry
  • Anyone trying to enter a market with an innovative product
  • Anyone interested in how high tech products are adopted

Geoffrey A. Moore is an author, consultant and venture partner. His other bestsellers include Inside the TornadoThe Gorilla Game and Living on the Fault Line.

Crossing the Chasm is derived from the author’s work as a high technology consultant in Silicon Valley. Originally, both the author and publisher assumed the book would be of interest to a mere niche group of people and would probably only sell some 5,000 copies. In fact it became a runway hit with over 300,000 copies sold. 

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Crossing the Chasm

Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers

By Geoffrey A. Moore
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey A. Moore
Synopsis

Crossing the Chasm (1991) examines the market dynamics faced by innovative new products, particularly the daunting chasm that lies between early to mainstream markets.

The book provides tangible advice on how to make this difficult transition and offers real-world examples of companies that have struggled in the chasm.

Key idea 1 of 9

Between visionaries and pragmatists lies a chasm where products languish and companies die.

Ideally, as a product moves through the Technology Adoption Life Cycle, each group of customers will provide references for selling to the next, more skeptical group of adopters. Thus, like Tarzan swinging from vine to vine, the product sustains momentum.

The problem is that in the case of discontinuous or disruptive innovations, meaning products which demand substantial behavioral changes from their customers, this process does not unfold smoothly.

Such products face a wide and unforgiving chasm that divides the early and mainstream markets, i.e. the visionaries and the pragmatists.

The reasons why visionaries and pragmatists buy high-tech products are radically different: visionaries want to provoke major changes, championing a technology even against resistance in their own company; pragmatists, on the other hand, want to minimize discontinuity, and seek incremental productivity improvements rather than major innovations.

Due to these dissimilarities, customer references from the visionaries will not impress the pragmatists. This poses a dilemma, since the pragmatists demand existing references and a comprehensive support infrastructure. They will only buy from established vendors, but without them a company cannot become an established vendor.

This catch-22 is the chasm, and products caught in it tend to languish and die.

While companies can still sell to their existing early-market customers, these sales demand a lot of effort in customization work and are hence low-volume. The high-volume mainstream markets remain just out of reach, and revenues come to a standstill. The company’s value is diluted and the original management team may even be ousted by investors.

To avoid this gruesome fate, every company launching an innovative product must have a plan for successfully crossing the chasm.

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