Leaders in companies around the world have adopted the ideas presented here, (…) they see trading up as a strategy and consistently follow a small number of practices: - They deliver genuine technical, functional, and emotional differences in every product or service they offer. - They target their customers tightly, ignoring traditional market segmentations and looking for common attitudes, spending patterns, and habits. - They create appealing identities, rich graphics, stunning retail presentations, and engaging shopping experiences. - They produce a stream of innovation. - They put cost into their products: —investing in better raw materials and imaginative design—and gain a return on the investment on the sell side.
Hewlett-Packard, a cautionary tale
What happens when a company stops believing in secrets? The sad decline of Hewlett-Packard provides a cautionary tale. In 1990, the company was worth $9 billion. Then came a decade of invention. In 1991, HP released the DeskJet 500C, the world’s first affordable color printer. In 1993, it launched the OmniBook, one of the first “superportable” laptops. The next year, HP released the OfficeJet, the world’s first all-in-one printer/fax/copier. This relentless product expansion paid off: by mid-2000, HP was worth $135 billion. But starting in late 1999, when HP introduced a new branding campaign around the imperative to “invent,” it stopped inventing things. In 2001, the company launched HP Services, a glorified consulting and support shop. In 2002, HP merged with Compaq, presumably because it didn’t know what else to do. By 2005, the company’s market cap had plunged to $70 billion—roughly half of what it had been just five years earlier. HP’s board was a microcosm of the dysfunction: it split into two factions, only one of which cared about new technology. That faction was led by Tom Perkins, an engineer who first came to HP in 1963 to run the ...
Perhaps the most famous is the railroad lines, which Levitt argues fell into steep decline because they thought they were in the train business rather than the transportation business. If those leaders had seen themselves as helping customers get from one place to another, they might’ve expanded the business into other forms of transportation like cars, trucks, or airplanes.