The notion of "exponential" fails to accurately capture the trajectory of hyper-growth, even when considering iconic "viral" entities like Facebook and Slack, despite the common perception. This label, in truth, proves to be more misleading than elucidating.
Upon scrutinizing real-world data, it's evident that these corporations don't adhere to exponential growth patterns. Instead, the blueprint for the velocity at which high-growth enterprises actually burgeon takes on the form of an elephant—yes, an elephant. Grasping this paradigm is invaluable not solely for prognosticating expansion but also for deciphering crucial inflection junctures and tactically engineering progress within our own ventures.
Meet the elephant curve...
The actual equation is: Elephant Curve * Layer-cake of Elephant-curve Campaigns = Quadratic Growth
Furthermore, markets habitually showcase what is referred to as "low-hanging fruit"—a contingent of eager customers primed for swift acquisition. While this contagion may spread exponentially through these low-hanging opportunities, it inevitably encounters a substantial segment of individuals who will indeed embrace the offering but at a later interval, contingent on diverse variables. These factors could encompass factors such as heightened social validation, competitive alignment, cost optimization, feature enrichment, compatibility with specific software ecosystems, and an array of other rationalizations. As the contagion endeavors to infiltrate these more selective prospects, growth momentum slackens.
Products propelled by strategic marketing maneuvers unveil quadratic growth dynamics, particularly when layered with campaigns and products mirroring the elephantine blueprint. This narrative almost resembles logistic growth. The logistic curve reflects exponential behavior in its nascent stages when it operates far from its inherent limits. As the product, akin to a gas or virus, approaches approximately 25% market penetration, the curve eases into linear progression. This shift signifies a delicate balance between the propulsive force of exponential advancement and the dwindling yet discerning reservoir of prospective recipients. Ultimately, equilibrium is reached at the juncture identified as the carrying capacity—a synonym for a fully saturated market scenario.
Read this great article to understand the main principles and acquire actionable tips for marketing teams and product managers.