Monday, July 03, 2006

Theodore Levitt, RIP

We lost a marketing icon last week, as Theodore Levitt died at age 81. A thought leader and past editor of the Harvard Business Review, Ted Levitt revolutionized the way marketing was researched, taught and conducted.

His 1960 article for Harvard Business Review, called "Marketing Myopia", is the source of the oft-repeated comment that firms that define themselves too narrowly do so at their peril - the example being railroads defining themselves as in the railroad industry and not transporation industry allowed them to be overtaken by upstart airlines, air cargo, and trucking firms.

Globalization is also a term first coined by Levitt as early as 1983, with an equally influential article "The Globalization of Markets," which addressed the new world markets for standardized consumer products and started today's debates regarding globalization.

It is a giant passing and all of us in the industry who work to improve marketing's effectiveness, influence and credibility owe Theodore Levitt a great debt of gratitude.

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