This document summarizes the work of Theodore Levitt in his work published in The Harvard Business Review titled “Marketing Myopia.” Levitt’s work details the reasons growth industries are actually not that at all, and how organizations fail across the globe in regards to marketing. In addition, the document will correlate Levitt’s work in 1960 to contemporary marketing.
Keyword: Theodore Levitt, marketing myopia, contemporary marketing
A Summary of Marketing Myopia
Marketing Myopia by Theodore Levitt was published by Harvard Business Review in the summer of 1960. According to Levitt (1960), all industries are growth industries and the failure of industries is not because of marketing saturation, but because of management. Levitt uses the oil industry, automobile industry, transportation industry, and electronics industry to support that notion. In addition, Levitt details how population has no effect on business success. Lastly, Levitt summaries what is necessary to avoid the marketing myopia syndrome from an overview.
Levitt opens his work by point out that failure is at the top. In a more specific response, failure of the organization rest on the top executives who are responsible for broad aims and policies (Levitt, 1960). To support his idea, Levitt utilized the railroad and Hollywood movie companies as examples. Levitt explains the railroad did not fail because passenger and freight transportation declined, but because the railroad failed to supply the customers’ need (Levitt, 1960). Levitt continues with Hollywood explaining that they did not fail because TV shows; they failed because management classified them as the “movie” business instead of the “entertainment” business (Levitt, 1960). Levitt continues to support his notion by indicating what saved Hollywood. Levitt explains, it was not a resurgence of customers to the movie industry, but in fact was a surge of young new writers.
Levitt continues the explanation of Marketing Myopia by ruling out the population myth. According to Levitt (1960), the idea that profits are assured by and expanding and more affluent population is dear to every industry. However; Levitt continues by indicating that this “myth” is undergoing a fundamental yet typical change (Levitt, 1960). The population myth attempts to explain that if large quantities of people need the product then product development to replace the current item is not necessary. According to Levitt (1960), the petroleum industry’s efforts have focused on improving the efficiency of getting and making its product, not really on improving the generic product or its marketing. Therefore, the petroleum industry owes its continued success to other product developments.
In order to avoid “marketing myopia” companies must make four steps. To begin they must adapt to the requirements of the market, and the faster the better. Second, the company must employ a vigorous leader whose vision and drive set the pace for the company. Third, the entire organization must be customer creating and customer satisfying organizations. Lastly, the company must think of itself as buying customers.
Contemporary marketing focuses on the needs of the buyer versus the seller. Levitt’s work with Marketing Myopia relates directly to that point. Businesses are no longer able to sit back and enjoy continued market growth. They must focus on the buyers needs and at the same time take necessary steps to make its own products obsolete. Furthermore, business must focus on what industry they place their product, as with the railroad being in the “railroad” business rather than the “transportation” business.
In conclusion, Theodore Levitt published Marketing Myopia in the 1960 edition of the Harvard Business Review. The article explains how companies fall to the extinction list in relatively short time periods or are revived by other companies whose product relies on theirs. Levitt explains the four steps companies must take to ensure they do not catch the myopic views.
Levitt, T. (1960). Marketing Myopia. Harvard Business Review, 138-149.