What is the maturity curve?

What is the maturity curve?


When we started out as MotivBase, we thought of using the traditional technology adoption life cycle curve to measure and track the emergence of new ideas, trends, and issues in culture. But very quickly, we realized that the adoption life cycle model, while great in theory, rarely works for the study of culture in practice.

To solve some of the practical problems we experienced in trying to utilize the adoption life cycle model, we created a new model with the goal of staying true to the underlying purpose of our company and our methodology (i.e. cultural anthropology – the study of meaning). We focused on measuring maturity rather than on measuring adoption. As anthropologists, our goal is not to measure the adoption of products and solutions but rather to measure the maturity of an idea in culture to determine when might be the right time to invest in an idea, trend, or an issue in the context of one’s business. That is how the maturity model was born.

It's important to note that this isn't an adoption curve, but rather a maturity curve. It does not tell us about product adoption, but rather tells us about the maturity of an idea/trend in culture - i.e. how well something is understood or misunderstood.

To put it more simply - maturity tells us how much agreement or consensus there is among a population about the meanings behind a topic or trend under examination.

And of course, there is a minimal level of agreement required to make a topic viable for mainstream acceptance.

To understand how Lux for Predictive Anthropology calculates maturity, we need to take a step back first and understand WHY we do what we do.

What is consumer culture?

Consumer culture is simply the meanings that we, as people, create around the "things" in our lives.

These meanings can be conceptualized as the universe of topics that surrounds a particular "thing" in culture.

So, when you run a search on MotivAI, the algorithm analyzes the meanings surrounding your search term, and then calculates its maturity by determining two important aspects:

  1. How mature are the topics that surround the search term? This is determined by comparing the search term's topic universe to the macro universe of billions of topics that sit in our vector database.
  2. How stable are the topics that surround a search term (for this reason, this calculation requires at least a one-year time frame for analysis)?

What makes something mature?

From an anthropological perspective, a topic is mature when it is consistently understood to mean the same set of things in culture. Specifically, when the language used by consumers in the context of a topic becomes more and more consistent, the topic becomes mature/well understood. 

Conversely, it is considered immature when the language used around the topic is very diverse (i.e. people do not agree on what it means). To determine where on the maturity curve a search term(s) sits, Lux for Predictive Anthropology examines the full cultural universe of topics surrounding a search term. Then it determines the following:

  1. How vast this universe is - i.e. how many connections a search term itself has to other topics.
  2. Whether the topics that surround a search term are themselves large or mainstream topics (i.e. they too have many connections).
  3. How spread out the topics are within the universe. The more diverse the topics, the more spread out they are semantically.
  4. How quickly and consistently, the topics surrounding a search term are converging. That is, whether existing topics are slowly moving closer to one another in meaning and more mature topics are consistently entering the topic universe, expanding it's relevancy and reach.

The net result is that we're able to show you where on the curve a topic lies, and where it is headed in the future.


How to use the maturity model:

The maturity model tracks the level of consensus or agreement that there is among a population about the meanings around the topic or trend we’re examining. It teaches us that there are four major zones of consensus that an idea travels through in culture.

  • The first is the New Ideas stage. At this stage ideas are still considered new or nascent because the meanings that people associate with them are very diverse. That is, there's little clarity as to what this new idea means and how it would be useful to people in their lives.
  • The second is the Early Consensus stage. Here ideas are starting to take better shape. There is a greater emergence of shared meanings among consumers about what this topic is and means to them. As a topic evolves through the early consensus stage, various meanings solidify and emerge as the dominant forces shaping that topic - giving us a clearer sense of where that topic might be headed in the future.
  • The third is the Mainstream Acceptance stage or what we call our Zone of Innovation. Here, ideas have reached a tipping point that we call the zone of innovation: the market is mature enough that there is a robust base of consumers awaiting novel solutions; but the market is still young enough that consumers lack fixed, narrow ideas about their expectations. Check out the article on the zone of innovation for more.
  • The fourth and final stage is that of Established Ideas. Topics that sit here have a clear set of meanings in the mind of the consumer and generally do not offer product development opportunities. But they do still offer plenty of opportunity for brands to make an impact through marketing, and business model changes.

The further right a topic sits on the maturity curve, the more consistently it is understood by consumers to mean something(s) to them in their lives. We have built and benchmarked our algorithm in such a way that the maturity curve functions as an important indicator of timing and level of opportunity.

To learn more about Lux for Predictive Anthropology, visit our website or reach out to your account manager or client experience manager.