20 Apr 2014

Why You Must Read Geoffrey Moore 'Crossing The Chasm'

Blanket marketing is dead, according to renowned author Geoffrey Moore. One can no longer approach the entire market at once and expect their product(s) to fly off the shelf. In his insightful book ‘Crossing the Chasm’, Geoff Moore explains what it takes for a product to be successful – or viral, in today’s world. While the book talks about high tech products, the concepts can be applied to new products in established categories as well.

I laid hands on this book because a few authors I revere gave its reference in theirs. Malcolm Gladwell and Carmine Gallo are 2 of them. Both authors have built upon Geoff Moore’s concept of 5 types of consumers. They are:

  • Innovators – Who like to be associated with a product in its conceptualisation & early development.
  • Early Adopters – Visionaries who see the potential in a product and work on ensuring it matches their vision.
  • Early Majority – Pragmatists who see the value proposition and offerings of a product and then adopt it.
  • Late Majority – Who use the early majority for references and testimonials and adopt a product once its offerings encapsulate everything they use.
  • Laggards – Who adopt a product when they have no choice i.e. when what they use becomes obsolete forcing them to change their consumption pattern.
The 5 Consumer Groups
This concept is now calls for a mandatory mention in all business management textbooks. In fact, it provides a better understanding of how the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Matrix works and how it can be leveraged.
Geoffrey Moore states that most firms commit the cardinal sin of trying to take their product (tested or untested) to the whole market. He further points out some more mistakes firms make when trying to launch new products. Some include:

  • Hiring inexperienced sales and marketing people to promote their product. This leads to promotion at the wrong places and the response turns out to be a damp squib.
  • Vaporware. This is a situation where a product is preannounced and premarketed without overcoming significant hurdles. One example that comes to mind is the Notion Ink Adam.
A firm should look to address each consumer group (innovators, early adopters, etc.) when launching a new product. The concepts in this book are more applicable to products which spark discontinuous innovations i.e. leapfrog innovation which make users change their buying and usage patterns.

The author examines in detail how a firm should market its product to each group to achieve success. He rightly points out that product and marketing should be tied at the hip i.e. the marketing team should be involved in the product’s conceptualization and development. Also, there should be no let up in marketing and promotion efforts when the product transitions from one consumer group to another. These transition phases, in the author’s words, are chasms which have to be monitored closely. Otherwise the product ends up like Tarzan swinging from vine to vine in the forest and ultimately coming upon a vine which has no momentum. Tarzan is then in the unenviable position of trying embarrassing methods to get the vine in motion, while the other animals wait and watch him fail miserably and invariably fall into the abyss below.
This book is a must have for every person who is part of a product, design, marketing or sales team. Though it was written in 1991 and revised in 2001, the concepts of the book hold true even today, and will continue to hold true until the end of time. One can read about the mistakes made by most organizations today and choose to avoid them. As Robert Clay says “95% companies survive despite appalling marketing because their competitors share their marketing ineptitude.” If you read, absorb and implement the notions in this book, you’re well on your way to building a successful product which stands the chance of going viral.

image Courtesy: Google Images


  1. Great article, just one thing is Crossing the Chasm is in it's 3rd edition, just published this year, 2014. I saw that you did not mention it at the end of the article and you just left off at the 2001 revision. Here is the link to the new edition: http://www.amazon.com/Crossing-Chasm-3rd-Geoffrey-Moore-ebook/dp/B00DB3D81G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398209440&sr=8-1&keywords=crossing+the+chasm

    1. Thank you... wish you had posted your name here :)

  2. This looks like a great book. I shall surely buy and read this one. Thanks for the review.


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