Cross the Chasm Using the Market Development Model

Product Managers can Cross the ChasmHow do you get your product ready to “cross the chasm” and move from the early market to the mainstream? Use the Market Development Model to successfully navigate this critical junction by making your product easy to sell, easy to buy, and easy to employ.

I read Crossing the Chasm when it was published in 1991. The third edition was released last year, with updated examples of how companies successfully increased the market for their new products. The book introduced me to the “market development model,” which had a significant impact on how I thought about the relationship between product growth and market segments.

To explore this model further, I interviewed Michael Eckhardt to hear about it and what it means to cross the chasm. He is a Managing Director & Senior Workshop Leader at Chasm Institute, a consultancy to tech companies.  He joined Chasm after careers at Price Waterhouse, Harbridge Consulting, HP and PepsiCo, and has since worked with over 90 tech-based businesses, spanning 500+ client engagements, over the past 15 years.

From the interview, you will learn:

  1. the Chasm Institute market development model,
  2. how to determine the specific stage of the product category your new product is competing in, and
  3. what is required to successfully move from one stage to the next in the market development model.


The questions explored in the interview are shared below.

How are the Crossing the Chasm book by Geoffrey Moore and the Chasm Institute related?

Both have existed for more than 15 years. Moore is chairman of the Chasm Institute and I am a managing director. The latest edition of the Chasm book has 25 all new examples of recognizable companies that have crossed the chasm – taking technology and disruptive products to market and getting them into mainstream markets. The Chasm Institute helps high-tech teams learn, apply, and implement best practices in market development strategy.

How does the Product Life Cycle model differ from Market Development Model?

The diagrams below are helpful to compare the models.

Product Life Cycle (PLC) Model


The PLC is in place in most companies. It is used by product managers and others in organizations to make decisions about launching a product, managing it, and obsoleting it.

 Market Development Model


The Market Development Model is about the product category stage the product is in and how mature that category is.  The stages of the model convey how customers’ buying behavior changes depending on product category maturity. The stages are (the interview includes product examples for the stages):

  • Early market – when the product category is new. 80% of the total customers’ requirements need to be fulfilled in the product. This is where a minimum viable product (MVP) is used to understand the needs of the customers.
  • Chasm – to cross the chasm, the 80% product must grow to satisfy 100% of what the pragmatist customer needs to satisfy their compelling reason to buy. This is also called the whole product – everything the more conservative customer needs to make a buying decision.
  • Bowling Alley – the first pin or niche that the product can be a whole product for, then identifying adjacent niches that would also buy the product, knocking down niches (market segments) to create rapid growth.
  • Tornado – this is the stage of hyper growth that is characterized by not only offering a whole product but a friction-free product. This is one that is easy to buy, understand, and use.
  • Main Street – now the product need is “whole product + 1,” which is the whole product plus valuable enhancements that create an even more positive customer experience.

Listen Now

Listen to the interview with Michael Eckhardt on The Everyday Innovator Podcast.

image credit: Chasm Institute

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Chad McAllisterChad McAllister, PhD is a product innovation guide, innovation management educator, and recovering engineer. He leads Product Innovation Educators, which trains product managers to create products customers love. He also hosts The Everyday Innovator weekly podcast, sharing knowledge from innovation thought leaders and practitioners. Follow @ChadMcAllister

Chad McAllister




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