Since its founding in 2009, cryptocurrency has become both a cultural and financial phenomenon. While headlines talk about its growing value of exchange and disruptive potential, investors and banking experts have gone crazy. Yet, although digital money is on many people’s minds, there is still a lack of understanding among major consumers about what it is and what it can do.
This is because cryptocurrency is a discontinuous or disruptive innovation, and its adoption requires significant changes in consumer behavior and business support infrastructure. In order to succeed and approach the point of mass adoption, cryptocurrency as a product must create an effect of emergence and build momentum so that it becomes the de-facto standard. This process is called the life cycle of technology adoption, and the media play an essential role in it. The crypto industry needs a marketing model that can effectively announce its continuous changes and innovations.
In his 1991 book Crossing the abyss, Geoffrey Moore explains that every disruptive technology must go through five stages of adoption: In the first phase, innovators mess with new technologies; in the second, early adopters discover this; in the third and fourth phases, the “early majority” and the “late majority” – the two largest groups – jump in; and in the final stage the “backward” arrive.
The torture of the adoption process is what Moore calls the “abyss.” The abyss separates early adopters from the early majority because the requirements of these two groups often differ greatly. Unable to enter the mainstream, new technologies will fall into the abyss and collapse. Anyone who has ever studied Silicon Valley culture has probably seen some version of Moore’s scheme dozens of times. If it seems more relevant now than before, it is because it so conveniently explains the adoption of cryptocurrencies.
Recipe for mass adoption
How do new technologies cross the abyss? According to Moore, they must be associated with the early majority. These first consumers are hungry for information about the new technology: how it works and how it can change people’s lives. Most importantly, they need a story told in their language to overcome skepticism.
Without a compelling story, the new technology is unlikely to reach the early majority of adopters. This is where media professionals come into play. They are the ones who weave that story and educate the public. As Moore sees, they play a more important role in the industry than many people think.
Crossing the crypto abyss
In early 2010, the revolutionary potential of cryptocurrency was realized by a core group of cypherpunk and cryptography enthusiasts. But for the vast majority, it was an enigma – if it was known at all.
That began to change in 2015 when crypto pioneers and technologists developed alternative crypto resources, such as Ether (ETH). Between 2017 and 2020, early adopters withdrew digital cash. And in 2020, the cryptocurrency reached a critical moment: it was on its way to the so-called “Great Scary Abyss”.
The first abyss to cross was in 2017. Full of promise, he turned early adopters into enthusiasts, and enthusiasts into visionaries. The new technology could no longer be discarded: it seemed to hint at a great leap forward, a future whose economy would look radically different. And like the killer app that is taking over the world, it has largely gone public – with an initial coin offering.
In 2020, large institutions, such as PayPal, Square, MicroStrategy and JPMorgan, led the bull cryptocurrency, while small investors – who found it easier than ever to buy Bitcoin (BTC) – boosted momentum. But to continue its rise and move from an early majority to a late majority, cryptocurrency still has to show its viability en masse.
Related: Will PayPal’s crypto integration bring crypto to the masses? Experts answer
According to Moore, in order for new technology to break into the mainstream, it must find a beach beach. Crypto has certainly found its own: consumers who want fast and cheap cross-border transactions without third-party intervention. By the way, many of these consumers live in countries with economic and political instability, which explains why Bitcoin is booming in places, such as Argentina, Iran, Turkey and Nigeria.
Sounds like the crypto is well on its way to adoption? However, there are still risks. Sales-driven companies that follow the entire crypto market, but lack focus on customers and products, can easily fall into the abyss of a frightening abyss.
Fighting for the mainstream
So, what is the recipe for mass adoption? New customers need to know why they should shop in the crypto market and how – this is why developing a robust communication strategy is crucial at this stage of the market.
Vigorous marketing campaigns show us the value and importance of new products. In the case of cryptocurrency, the media must take a threefold approach: explaining digital cash in terms that everyone can understand, encouraging influential thought leaders, and introducing customers to competition, primarily banks, the Federal Reserve, and stocks — those intentions to crush cryptocurrency.
Moreover, if crypto as a product wants to gain pragmatic customers, those who are on the edge of the technology adoption lifecycle, it must take into account that these customers want to buy from market leaders with a strong reputation. Therefore, establishing thought leadership is the key to any communication strategy.
Still not sure if the crypto industry should focus on communication? Well, the process has already begun and there will probably be snowballs from here, gaining momentum as more opportunities to invest in cryptocurrencies intensify.
In the coming months, we expect major industry developments, such as large banks running cryptocurrency services, brokerages opening access to crypto products, new retailers accepting digital money and large institutions running applications on public blockchains.
But perhaps the most important change will be in the way we talk about cryptocurrency, from where the conversation will shift Why would I invest? to Why haven’t we invested already?
This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.
The views, opinions and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Anastasia Golovina is a communications specialist with extensive experience in crypto projects. She has managed communications for various crypto startups in the US and Europe, such as Ledger, Celsius Network, Algorand, MEW, Bitfury, Waves and others. Her specialties include media relations, crisis communications and community management.