Whole Product Concept & Technology Adoption Life Cycle: Guideline to Win the Market

product concept

Many product managers make the mistake of prioritizing product features over solving customer problems.

To create successful products, product managers must comprehend how their “whole product” provides value and address the right problems for the right customer at the right time.

Today, we’re going to introduce the Whole Product Concept and Technology Adoption Life Cycle – powerful tools for product managers in developing extraordinary products.

Whole Product Concept

The Whole Product Concept/Model is one of the most useful marketing constructs to become integrated into high-tech marketing in the past few years, which was developed by Theodore Levitt more than four decades ago but is still powerful today.

The concept is very straightforward: There is a gap between the marketing promise made to the customer and the ability of the shipped product to fulfill that promise. To bridge that gap, the product must be augmented by a variety of services and ancillary products to become the whole product.

product concept

The model identifies 4 different perceptions of a product, as follows:

  • Generic product: This is what is shipped in the box and what is covered by the purchasing contract.
  • Expected product: This is what consumers thought they were buying when they bought the generic product. It is the minimum configuration of products/services necessary to have any chance of achieving the buying objective. For example, people buying an iPhone expect to get amazing camera functionality included.
  • Augmented Product: This is the product fleshed out to provide the maximum chance of achieving the buying objective. In the case of an iPhone, this would include iCloud sync, airdrop,…
  • Potential Product: This represents the product’s room for growth as more ancillary products come on the market and customer-specific enhancements to the system are made. An example of an iPhone purchase would be the AppStore with nearly 2 million apps, personal assistant Siri,…

The Whole Product Concept can be applied to Uber as an example.

Technology Adoption Life Cycle

This model describes how new technologies are adopted and accepted by different groups of people over time. By understanding the differences between these groups, product managers and marketers are better able to target each of these segments with the right techniques.

5 Stages in Technology Adoption Life Cycle

According to the Technology Adoption Life Cycle, the adoption of a new technology follows a predictable pattern and can be divided into five main stages:

  • Innovators (2.5%): Innovators are the first individuals or organizations to adopt new technology. They are usually risk-takers who are willing to try out new and unproven technologies. Innovators represent a small percentage of the total population.
  • Early Adopters (13.5%): Early adopters are the second group to embrace new technology. They are opinion leaders and influencers within their social networks. Early adopters tend to be more educated and have a higher social status compared to the general population. This group closely watches for new innovations in the market but is more selective than innovators when making purchasing decisions.
  • Early Majority (34%): This is the next group to adopt a technology. They are more cautious and skeptical compared to innovators and early adopters. They wait for evidence of the technology’s benefits and reliability before adopting it. The early majority represents a significant portion of the total population.
  • Late Majority (34%): This group adopts a technology after the majority of the population has already embraced it. They are typically more conservative and skeptical about change. This is an indication that a product has reached full maturity in the market.
  • Laggards (16%): Laggards are the last group in the technology adoption stages. They are resistant to change and often prefer traditional methods. Laggards may adopt technology only when it becomes absolutely necessary or when there are no other alternatives available.
product concept

Disillusion: Cracks & The Chasm

The model was first proposed by sociologist Everett Rogers in 1962 and has since been widely used by many marketers to capture the market share of high-tech products. However, in reality, it is more complex and the transition between each segment is rarely a seamless progression.

You can see that there are gaps between any two segments, so what works effectively for one segment may not work for another. Each of these gaps poses risks for marketing, potentially hindering the transition to the next segment, and preventing profitability and market leadership.

  • 1st crack (Innovators & Early Adopters): arises when there is a new technology that interests innovators but doesn’t appeal to early adopters because they cannot see how to practically apply or start using it.
  • 2nd crack (Early Majority & Late Majority): arises because the former group is willing to learn about the technology, whereas the latter group is much so, they prefer intuitive and user-friendly technology. When a product reaches this point in market development, it must be made increasingly easier to adopt in order to continue being successful. If this does not occur, the transition to the late majority may well stall or never happen.
  • 3rd crack (Late Majority & Laggards): occurs because the latter do not have any desire to engage or purchase any new technology. That is why this group is often considered as not worth pursuing
  • And most important, THE CHASM (Early Adopters & Early Majority) which we will delve into the details below.

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Discover the Chasm

The Chasm – a huge gap between the Early Adopters and the Early Majority, occurs when a product is highly disruptive and requires changes in behavior. The Chasm is where many disruptive products meet their ends after a long period of development without being able to tap into mainstream customers.

Let’s analyze it a bit. What the Early Adopters are buying is some kind of change agent. They expect to get a jump on the competition by being the first to embrace this change in their industry, whether from lower product costs, faster time to market, more complete customer service, or some other comparable business advantage. Early Adopters anticipate a significant shift from the old ways to the new and are prepared to confront resistance. They understand that early-stage innovations may have inevitable issues but are willing to tolerate them.

By contrast, the Early Majority want to buy a productivity improvement for existing operations. They are looking to minimize the discontinuity of the old ways. They want evolution, not revolution. They want technology to enhance, not overthrow, the established ways of doing business. And above all, they do not want to debug somebody else’s product. By the time they adopt it, they want it to work properly and to integrate appropriately with their existing technology base.

Both Models Applied Together

Outer circles of the Whole Product increase in importance as we move from left to right. Innovators, who are the customers with the least need for the Whole Product, derive pleasure from technology by piecing together various components to create a product that suits their preferences.

On the other hand, Early Adopters do not enjoy pulling together the whole product themselves, but they are willing to take on the responsibility of creating the Whole Product if they want to gain an advantage from the latest technology. That is it for the early market

To cross into the mainstream market, you have to address the Early Majority. This segment wants the “Whole Product” to be readily available from the outset.

total product concept


By combining both models, product managers can create guardrails for their product strategy. The Whole Product Model can be used to ensure that the product meets the needs of the entire customer experience, while the Technology Adoption Life Cycle can be used to limit the number of segments targeted at a given point in time. This can help to ensure that the product is developed and marketed in a way that maximizes its potential for success.

At Enosta, we offer end-to-end solutions to cover the entire product development life cycle, including product design, development, branding, and digital marketing. If you are a startup seeking assistance in accelerating your product to market, we would love to discuss how we can help and give you a free consultation!

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