This past month I’ve been re-reading Geoffrey Moore’s primer on innovation, “Crossing the Chasm.” More than a decade later, Moore is still right on with regards to his predictions of human behavior when it comes to innovation. What was particularly interesting to me was his discussion of the late majority and the laggards in the innovation curve as seen below:
As best described by Seth Godin, the Innovators are those that bought DVD players for $500 bucks when there were only a dozen title available on DVD, the Early Adopters once they realized DVD players were proven to be a superior machine bought them from an electronics store, and then the Early Majority paid $69 bucks for a DVD player at Walmart. The Late Majority and the Laggards however still had VCRs with the time of 12:00 blinking on them.
In Crossing the Chasm, Moore makes the point that the laggards and often the late majority will only accept new technology once it is incorporated into the tools they already use. The example he gives is that a Laggard will only use a computer by driving a truck that has the computer incorporated into the engine system- he doesn’t even know its there. Asking the Late Majority and Laggards to log onto a third party software and start to have conversations with strangers is a quantum leap too far. It isn’t that they will never use it, but they will never use it until it fits in seamlessly with the technology they are already comfortable with in their lives.
You can try to keep beating technology over their head, but they aren’t interested, and the insight I got from Moore’s book is that until the technology adapts to them, they aren’t likely to change.
Final note: there is not one age group or one demographic that fits into each category, you can find extremes on both ends of the innovation curve in any age group, although there are obvious trends towards younger users of technology being more open to innovation.