“Marketing Myopia”

Years ago, Theodore Levitt, a marketing professor at the Harvard Business School, published a popular article entitled “Marketing Myopia.” Many people in business today, despite not having read the article, subscribe to the idea. It is that companies should define themselves in terms of broad industry perspective rather than narrow product position. To take Levitt’s favorite examples, railroad companies were to see themselves in the transportation business, oil companies in the energy business.

The idea was a good one—like all good ideas, within reason. Why not open up perspectives, beyond existing positions: fast food beyond hamburgers (McDonald’s), delivering packages beyond selling books (Amazon), offering unassembled kitchens beyond unassembled tables (IKEA). Just so long as the competencies of the company are respected.

By: Henry Mintzberg

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