Definition

hockey stick growth

Hockey stick growth is sudden and extremely rapid growth after a long period of linear growth. The term is often used to describe what happens when a startup business finds its market niche and market conditions are positive. In today's economy, companies that rely heavily on social media marketing are more likely to experience hockey stick growth than companies that do not. At some point, the exponential growth is likely to level off and linear growth will continue as long as the company remains successful. 

Hockey stick growth charts

A hockey stick has a flat or somewhat-angled blade, which is connected to a long, vertical shaft. Charts described as having hockey stick growth have a similar shape. The “stick” is a period of flat or subdued growth. The “shaft,” on the other hand, represents a period of exponential growth. The inflection point, when flat growth turns to exponential growth, reflects the part of the hockey stick where the blade connects to the shaft.

The inflection point, where linear growth becomes exponential growth, can stem from internal or external factors. An internal factor might be a feature or pricing change that caused customers to flock to the product. An external factor might be a law or regulation that caused a wide-scale, but previously unseen need that a product can satisfy.

Stages of hockey stick growth
This chart shows the stages of hockey stick growth.
This was last updated in March 2019

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