I read Crossing the Chasm, by Geoffrey Moore a number of years ago. The book describes the successful introduction of disruptive or discontinuous innovations into a marketplace, and the challenges presented therein. It also tries to outline the differences between discontinuous and continuous (which do not force significant customer behavioral changes) innovations and the methods and hurdles faced by each. It is not always easy to determine whether the innovation introduced is discontinuous or not. Perhaps the audience to which the innovation is introduced may determine the degree to which behavioral discomfort is experienced.
I remember, introducing ScanTrack, Nielsen’s replacement for it’s audit service in the U.S.. John Walling and I ran pretty much for a year from client/prospect to client/prospect meeting and found manufacturers were certainly willing if not eager to accept the innovation. They did not always like the trade offs (losing inventory and out of stocks, but gaining granularity in both products and frequency), and they certainly hated dealing with the loss of market trends. However, by and large they broadly accepted the switch. The Nielsen client service executives had a much harder time accepting the innovation as they had become masters at assembling disparate data in order to spin the mundane bi-monthly audit findings to life for their clients. That set of capabilities and skills became less relevant overnight and so the behavior change required to add value to this new information was dramatic, in many cases very much resented and for some impossible to overcome.
Later at MyWebGrocer the consumers were easy! Early adopters WANTED to try online grocery shopping and it has evolved becoming more acceptable for the rest of the population. Most consumer limitations today are because of exposure (it is not offered very widely) and other constraints imposed by the retailers. However, the bricks and mortar retailers through whom the online groceries are sold (for the most part) have been very cautious about signing up. That caution may be due to reluctance to invest in labor “on the come” which is necessary to support picking orders. Those that have taken the plunge have generally found it worthwhile, but it is a leap in a time when retailers are trying to squeeze as much as possible from labor costs. The current pressure of Amazon and Walmart aimed at establishing a significant beachhead in this arena should ease some of that grocer reluctance to participate.