Being an entrepreneur, have you ever wondered if you correctly distinguished the type of business that you are engaged in? Don’t you know that the wrong understanding of your own business and the industry where it belongs might be the reason of its failure? That is one of the problems that Theodore Levitt is trying to let everyone know. It’s the wrong classification of the business industry that a businessman is in to. What Levitt is trying to explain is that different businesses are often confused on what is really the product that they offer to the market. And this phenomenon is due to their narrow-mindedness on the real adaptation of their industry to the external environment.
As examples of those incorrect perceptions, Levitt cited different industries and the point where that industry declined because of their wrong thinking towards their company. Some examples were the railroad business instead of being in a transportation business, Hollywood or movie business instead of being in the entertainment industry, and many more. The problem with those industries that I mentioned, and why it didn’t grow further, is because it chose to focus on being product-oriented instead of customer-oriented. This phenomenon I think is what the two authors that I have mentioned in my past articles, namely Kotler and McKitterick, and Theodore Levitt have in common. They all agree that the marketing of a business must always be based on the customer’s point of view.
The Shadow of Obsolescence in Levitt’s article implies that all products somehow decline its value from people’s perspective whenever there is a new discovery of another product that might give the people better benefits than the old ones. That is why some businesses, although we might say that still operates today, is not that much of having a great success. Whenever a product is made, technology advances. So it weakens the products’ assurance to stay and be patronized for a long period of time. Levitt now focused his attention on the petroleum industry in this situation. That is why he said that crude oil was replaced by kerosene, and then is later replaced by light, and then the attention shifted to coal-burning systems, which was later on replaced by internal combustion engine, then by central oil heater. We can now see how different focuses has shifted from one to another because of innovation. We can now conclude that innovation indeed made a huge part in keeping oil strong over the past years.
Because of the hardships that one must dedicate in mass producing a product, there is no wonder that Marketing gets ignored for it will only be focusing on the production. Another phenomenon of being product-orientedness. In Levitt’s point of view, mass-producing though creates this certain type of force that enables the product to move, is more engaged in selling, but not marketing. The difference between selling and marketing is that selling is focused with the seller’s needs; perhaps converting his products into cash. While marketing is the one that is focused on the buyer’s needs: An assurance of satisfaction in the buyer’s point of view. An industry is made because there is a customer with needs, not by desiring to acquire a huge amount of money.
This article connects the three authors mentioned, Philip Kotler, J.B. McKitterick, and Theodore Levitt’s perception on marketing. They all agree that every business must not only know what type of business and industries they are engaged in, but also, they should always value their customer. They must always base their products in a customer-oriented manner for it is their customers that will be the ones to decide whether their products will be successful or not. It is also clearly stated by Levitt himself that a business will never become successful if they don’t see the total view of why their business exists. Moreover, a business won’t also be successful with their confusion of their own products; selling too much product then would trigger an opportunity for failure. Another failure will arise if a company rush its expansion and expects too much from it. In my own point of view, the difference between Levitt’s work from the other two authors is that he opened the real marketing world for the readers to understand more, and deepen their knowledge of the success and failures of different industries without proper management and marketing application. It only proves that marketing will always be essential and an imprudent application of it will truly open the bridge towards failure.