Assignment # 5

Marketing Myopia

Mariam Ishaq


Seminar in Business

October 28, 2005

The article ‘Marketing Myopia’ by Theodore Levitt has forever changed the way executives think about their businesses. Marketing Myopia is defined as lack of vision on the part of companies. The article introduced a single question which is now used by numerous industries in identifying themselves, “What business are you in?”

The article ‘Marketing Myopia’ looked closely at a variety of businesses and industries that faded or nearly faded because they were oriented only to product and process. These were companies that failed to see how their customers actually used their products and services.

Theodore Levitt commences the article with the example of railroad industry. Railroad companies claimed that they were in the railroad business, insisting that their competitors were other railroad companies. They failed to see that they were in the transportation business. Soon enough, with the development of other transportation methods, customers found better value elsewhere such as cars, trucks, airplanes, and even telephones. The railway industry was dying, as they were railroad oriented instead of transportation oriented.

Industries that fall under the category of marketing myopia have defined their businesses too narrowly, never seeing their product or service through the eyes of customers. Hollywood claimed it was in the movie business. When Hollywood studios began to lose ground to television, executives were forced to see that they were in the entertainment business. These insights were both painful and slow to come.

Organizations should concentrate on meeting customer needs rather than selling products. As in the article, chemical powerhouse DuPont kept a close watch on its customers needs and wants and deployed its technical know how to create an ever expanding array of products that appealed to customers and continuously enlarged its market. If DuPont had focused only its flagship product, nylon, it might not have existed today.

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Procter and Gamble are a multinational chain and have countless products. Each product has its own line extension which competes with each other even though they belong to the same company. For example, P & G have many brands of shampoos. Had they not introduced all the many brands of shampoos a competitor would have done so, thus taking over P & G’s market.

Levitt says that every industry could be qualified as a ‘growth industry’ at some point in time. For companies to ensure continued evolution, they must define their industries broadly to take advantage of growth ...

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