Understanding how consumers adopt new and disruptive technology is fundamental to achieving product/market fit. Geoffrey Moore's book Crossing the Chasm described and popularized a useful framework called the Technology Adoption Life Cycle:
The graph describes five different customer types:
- Innovators are technology enthusiasts who will pursue new technology out of a pure interest in innovation.
- Early adopters are visionaries that will embrace new technology for the opportunity to create a competitive advantage for their organization.
- Early majority are pragmatists who will adopt new technology once its value has been proven and there are well-established references, which signal that the technology is not a fad.
- Late majority are conservatives who share the concerns of the early majority, but are less comfortable with change and therefore also require lots of support and reassurance to adopt new technology.
- Laggards are skeptics who will resist new technology and only buy as a last resort.
Geoffrey Moore's key insight was that these five customer types have different profiles and needs, which creates difficulties (shown as gaps) for companies targeting the market. The gap between early adopters and early majority is particularly hard to overcome for startups, which is why Moore called it a "chasm." The book offers a lot more valuable insight and I highly recommend reading it.
Next, I turn my attention to the two questions that startups need to answer to achieve product/market fit:
- Discovery: does my product satisfy a core customer need?
- Validation: can I build a business around my product?