Theodore Levitt

German American economist and professor at Harvard Business School

Theodore Levitt (March 1, 1925, Vollmerz, Main-Kinzig-Kreis, Germany – June 28, 2006, Belmont, Massachusetts) was an American economist and professor at Harvard Business School.


  • Creativity thinks up new things. Innovation does new things. The difference speaks for itself. Yet the fluent advisers to business seldom make the distinction. They tend to rate ideas more by their novelty than by their practicability.
    • Theodore Levitt (1974). Marketing for business growth, p. 71
  • People don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.
    • Theodore Levitt, cited in: Clayton Christensen (2016), The Clayton M. Christensen Reader. p. 46

Marketing Myopia, 1960


Theodore Levitt, "Marketing myopia." Harvard business review 38.4 (1960): 24-47.

  • Every major industry was once a growth industry. But some that are now riding a wave of growth enthusiasm are very much in the shadow of decline. Others, which are thought of as seasoned growth industries, have actually stopped growing. In every case the reason growth is threatened, slowed, or stopped is not because the market is saturated. It is because there has been a failure of management.
    • p. 1; Lead paragraph
  • The difference between marketing and selling is more than semantic. Selling focuses on the needs of the seller; marketing on the needs of the buyer. Selling is preoccupied with the seller’s need to convert his product into cash; marketing with the idea of satisfying the needs of the customer by means of the product and the whole cluster of things associated with creating, delivering and finally consuming it.
    • p. 10
  • The historic fate of one growth industry after another has been its suicidal product provincialism.
    • p. 15
  • I do not mean that selling is ignored. Far from it. But selling, again, is not marketing. As already pointed out, selling concerns it with the tricks and techniques of getting people to exchange their cash for your product. It is not concerned with the values that the exchange is all about. And it does not, as marketing invariably does, view the entire business process as consisting of a tightly integrated effort to discover, create, arouse, and satisfy customer needs. The customer is somebody "out there" who, with proper cunning, can be separated from his loose change.
    • p. 19
  • In business, the followers are the customers. To produce these customers, the entire corporation must be viewed as a customer-creating and customer satisfying organism. Management must think of itself not as producing products but as providing customer creating value satisfactions. It must push this idea (and everything it means and requires) into every nook and cranny of the organization.
    • p. 20-21
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