Understanding Your Early Majority Customer: The Pragmatists In Pain


In order to “cross the chasm” effectively, you’ll need to target a niche market within the mainstream. This would be a tightly bound segment of the Early Majority, a group comprised of the first “mainstream” customers to try your product. These are also known as “pragmatists in pain,” because they’re sensible people who don’t like to take chances on products, but they’re truly suffering from the problem your product solves, so they’re willing to give it a go. Normally, they would not purchase a relatively new product from an unheard of company. And this is partly why breaking into mainstream markets can be so difficult. 

To learn more about Crossing the Chasm, read our  full breakdown . 

To learn more about Crossing the Chasm, read our full breakdown

These pragmatists are unlikely to buy anything from an unestablished company; yet, in order for your company to be perceived as established, you need them to buy from you. And this is exactly why you have to work hard early on to build strong relationships with your early adopters. Their enthusiasm can give you a head start, despite the fact that the early majority prefers recommendations and references from their industry peers, rather than from visionaries on the cutting edge. 

But to secure a “beachhead on the shores” of the mass markets, you’ll need to win over this Early Majority. Here’s what you should know: 

Early Majority:

  • Are customers who prefer something tried, tested, and complete. They’re unlikely to jump in on a good idea early, and would prefer to purchase from a proven market leader. They are not interested in helping you work out the kinks in your offer, or find bugs in your tech. 
  • These customers also place a premium on a reputation for quality and service. Unlike Early Adopters, they do not wish to disrupt the status quo. Instead, they prefer a gradual evolution of existing operations which benefit their overall productivity. They don’t want to change their habits or overthrow the world order. They just want something better, faster, and more effective that also integrates into their current life. 
  • They also want to see competition in the market, especially since it allows their “wait and see” attitude to work in their favor. They’re not as passionate about an idea or new company as an early adopter might be; but once they’ve selected their winner, they’re extremely loyal moving forward and often take interest in helping the company succeed. 
  • Most importantly, these customers care about their industry more so than tech or innovation in general. They would prefer to do business with someone who understands that industry thoroughly; someone who can also discuss and solve the issues plaguing it. Partnerships and alliances within that industry also go a long way.
The company may be saying ‘state-of-the-art’ when the pragmatist wants to hear ‘industry standard.’
— Geoffrey A. Moore

In short, you want to build relationships with the early majority in order to get a foothold in the mass markets. The smaller the niche segment you choose within this early majority, the faster you will be able to understand their needs, deliver the right product, and encourage word-of-mouth marketing.

Once you’ve chosen this highly specific segment to target, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What problem are they experiencing right now? How are they currently solving it?
  • How will my product make their industry better?
  • How will my product affect their work flow and productivity?
  • What will these customers expect from an “industry leader?” What does success in that role look like to them?
  • How will this product solve their problem, specifically?
  • How will my product integrate with their current solutions or tools?
  • What kind of customer service or customer experience will they expect?
  • What events do they attend? What magazines, newspapers or blogs do they read?
  • What alliances will they respect? What awards mean something to them?
  • Whose advice do they take? Why? 
You can succeed with the visionaries, and you can thereby get a reputation for being a high flyer with a hot product, but that is not ultimately where the dollars are. Instead, those funds are in the hands of more prudent souls who do not want to be pioneers.
— Geoffrey A. Moore 

By focusing on appealing to the early majority, you can begin to acquire mass market success - one niche at a time.