Marketing Myopia revisited

What about tobacco?

Recently I was re-reading Theodore Levitt’s epochal Marketing Myopia and considering the basic premise that companies are not defining their markets correctly (by being product-orientated or service-oriented rather than customer-oriented) and therefore not following the market as it migrates to an alternative product or service to fulfil the same underlying desire.

Then it struck me that maybe there is an exception for which a replacement has not been produced, and maybe cannot be produced …

What about tobacco?

I have been unable to think of an alternative product or service that a tobacco or tobacco product (cigarettes, cigars, mainly) company can produce.

If this were possible, don’t you think that either an existing tobacco company would have staked its claim on this new market or that a new competitor would have muscled in?

Don’t you think that the reason that people find it so difficult to give up smoking is precisely because there is no viable alternative? That the so-called alternatives have been unable to fulfil the same need that a puff of a cigarette meets so effectively?

And if this is the case, what are the implications?

Well apart from legislating smokers into secluded “baccy dens” there seems to be little to reduce the size of the existing market. And 30 years of anti-smoking advertisements have not been exceptionally successful in deterring new adopters. So maybe tobacco companies are the ultimate survivors? Maybe the safest place for a stock investor?

I’m happy to be proven wrong. If there is an alternative to tobacco, please tell me.


  1. Indeed, size matters

  2. Thai Boy says:

    Hey, have you seen the weirdest tax change in the new UK budget? It refers to cigarettes, which is why I thought readers of this blog post might be interested. Apparently, from a tax perspective, cigarettes are maximum 8cm long. For every additional 3cm (or part thereof) the tax authorities will charge for an additional cigarette. So cigarettes between 8cm and 11cm are considered to be two tax cigarettes, cigarettes between 11cm and 14cm are three tax cigarettes, and so on.

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