Crossing the Chasm

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Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers
Book cover
AuthorGeoffrey A. Moore
CountryUnited States
SubjectMarketing high-tech products
PublisherHarper Business Essentials
Publication date
Published in English
Media typeBook

Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers or simply Crossing the Chasm (1991, revised 1999 and 2014), is a marketing book by Geoffrey A. Moore that examines the market dynamics faced by innovative new products, with a particular focus on the "chasm" or adoption gap that lies between early and mainstream markets.

The book offers decision-making guidelines for investors, engineers, enterprise executives, marketers and managers throughout the high-tech community. Real-world examples of companies that have struggled in the chasm are also provided.


"A compelling use case that will create pull, a whole product that nails the use case, and a word-of-mouth community that can communicate and reinforce the marketing message."

—Geoffrey Moore on the three dependencies for 'crossing the chasm'.[1]

Crossing the Chasm is an adaptation of an innovation-adoption model called diffusion of innovations theory created by Everett Rogers, The author 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.

According to Moore, anyone with an innovation or new product 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 enough momentum builds, then the product becomes a de facto standard, by creating a complete solution for one intractable problem in one business vertical before building out services in adjacent verticals and expanding on from there.

The 5 groups of customers as per "Crossing the Chasm" book

Foundational Criticism[edit]

Everett Rogers, creator of diffusion of innovations which is the foundation of chasm theory, challenged the chasm concept saying "Past research shows no support for this claim of a chasm between certain adopter categories. On the contrary, innovativeness, if measured properly, is a continuous variable and there are no sharp breaks or discontinuities between adjacent adopter categories (although there are important differences between them)"[2][3]

Chasm concept formation[edit]

A 4-year "concept formation study" conducted by the Diffusion Research Institute (DRI) and published in 2021, documents the origin of the chasm concept, beginning with its creation at Regis McKenna Inc. in the Pacific Northwest.[4]

The DRI study concluded the fundamental theories in Crossing the Chasm, including the concept of a gap or chasm between the early adopters of a product and the mainstream early majority, were developed in the late 1980s by Lee James and Warren Schirtzinger, consulting professionals working at Regis McKenna, Inc.[5]

Legacy and reception[edit]

Moore and his publisher originally thought that the book would sell around 5,000 copies. By 2002, ten years after the first publication, more than 300,000 copies had been sold. Moore attributes this to word-of-mouth marketing, resonating initially with high-tech managers, then to engineers, venture capitalists and finally business schools.[6]

In 2006, Tom Byers, director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, described it as "still the bible for entrepreneurial marketing 15 years later".[7] The book's success has led to a series of follow-up books including Inside the Tornado, Living on the Fault Line, The Chasm Companion and a consulting company, The Chasm Group.[citation needed]

Analysis and possible antecedents[edit]

Crossing the Chasm is closely related to the technology adoption lifecycle where five main segments are recognized: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards.[citation needed]

Moore's theories are only applicable for novel or discontinuous innovations in a B2B marketplace; adoption of continuous innovations — ones that do not force a significant change of behavior by the customer — are still best described by the original technology adoption lifecycle.[editorializing][citation needed]

The pre-chasm concept[edit]

The concept of the "pre-chasm" in technology entrepreneurship describes the phase prior to the "chasm" in Crossing the Chasm; in pre-chasm thinking, the focus is on the specifics of marketing high-tech products during the early start-up period. The pre-chasm concept was suggested as an extension to Moore's model, arguing that the phase prior to the "chasm" is left unintended and that it, driven by technology commoditization and lean startup principles, requires an ambidextrous[clarification needed] approach to product development alongside marketing to achieve product-market fit.[8][unreliable source?]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Casado, Martin (8 Jan 2019). "Crossing the Chasm, in Practice". A16Z. Archived from the original on 31 October 2021. Retrieved 31 October 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  2. ^ Gray, Paula (March 2018). "Author Essay by Paula Gray". Product Management Buzz. Association of International Product Marketing & Management. Archived from the original on 2022-12-03. Retrieved 2018-03-18.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  3. ^ Rogers, E.M. (March 1995). Author Book by Rogers, Everett M. New York: Free Press.
  4. ^ Robertson, Walter (December 2021). "Study by Diffusion Research Staff". Diffusion Research Institute. Retrieved 2021-12-29. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ Robertson, Walter (December 2021). "Chasm Theory Development: The Complete History". Diffusion Research Institute. Retrieved 2021-12-29. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ Moore, Geoffrey (April 2002). "Author Essay by Geoffrey Moore". HarperCollins. Retrieved 2007-07-11. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ "Educators Corner: Tom Byers, Stanford Technology Ventures Program - Ten Enduring Success Factors for High Technology Entrepreneurship". Archived from the original on 2017-03-12. Retrieved 2007-07-25.
  8. ^ Gronsund, Tor (March 29, 2010). "What's in a Startup Methodology?". [Publisher, Self]. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

External links[edit]