- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Crown Business; 1 edition (June 26, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0609608207
- ISBN-13: 978-0609608203
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,434,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Myth of Excellence: Why Great Companies Never Try to Be the Best at Everything Hardcover – June 26, 2001
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From Library Journal
Crawford and Mathews, marketing consultants with Cap Gemini Ernst & Young (CGEY) and FirstMatter, respectively, break down marketing into five attributes: access, experience, price, product, and service. They argue that successful businesses are those that excel in one of these areas, are good in another, and are at least average in the rest. Wal-Mart, they say, is dominant on price and maintains a good selection of products, while Target excels at product selection and makes price its secondary attribute. The authors conclude that it is both uneconomical and probably impossible to be excellent in all areas. After describing the importance of the five key attributes, the authors explain how a company might evaluate itself to see how well it is doing. The authors' clear writing style and copious use of examples and case studies make their ideas understandable to a wide readership. The book is essential for all academic marketing collections, and it would also be useful in all but the smallest public libraries. Lawrence R. Maxted, Gannon Univ., Erie, PA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Crawford is the managing director of the consumer products, retail, and distribution practice at the Cap Gemini Ernst & Young consultancy. Mathews is a futurist specializing in demographics and lifestyle analysis at FirstMatter, another consulting firm. To research purchasing behavior, they surveyed 5,000 consumers, but the responses they got surprised them and prompted their title's contrary proposition. Crawford and Mathews found that values (respect, honesty, trust, dignity) were more important to consumers than value. This discovery led the pair to develop a new model of "consumer relevancy." They explain in detail the importance of price, service, quality, access, and experience for the consumer. They then suggest that for companies to be successful they need to dominate on only one of these five factors. On a second of the five they should stand out or differentiate themselves from their competitors; and on the remaining three they need only to be at par with others in their industry. With dozens of examples, Crawford and Mathews demonstrate the validity of their premise. David Rouse
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
I believe that this book addresses the most important areas of business today and identifies what consumers are "screaming" for - SERVICE, RESPECT, etc. Most of this book is common sence - it's amazing how uncommon it is that these principles are put into practice. We are at a transition in the business world where product quality is easily duplicated by many competitors. Customer service and the customer "experience" will be the deciding factor in the decades to come. I would hope that all businesses would buy this book and work towards being the kind of companies used in the case studies here. What a pleasure it would be if all of our day to day dealings were with companies of this caliber!
The authors recognition of the end of the Information age and movement into a new age where "appreciation and reverence for life" become the motivating factors for those who wish to succeed, shows just how in-tune they are with the world around us. This recognition will be invaluable to all businesses as time goes on - now, who will take advantage of it and use it wisely?
I highly reccommend this book for everyone from the CEO to the consumer. People are asking (demanding) for RESPECT, as they should, and the businesses that understand this and embrace this will be the future winners.
There are the usual smart consultants points of annoyance - they tell stories about people tearing clothes on airplanes and how badly they were treated, but never offer a suggestion as to how they would have fixed the problem - some are so bad that a workable solution may have not been possible.
I once faxed one of the authors (in 1998) a request for his views on my comment on one of his published trade magazine articles (used the fax number in the item) and never got an answer, so no one is perfect after all.
This is worth a read - the answers are not obvious and it is more a prompter to get you thinking. Some of the diagrams are overly simple but the underlying logic is useful - only purchase it if you are willing to take their logic and work it out for yourself as the book will not do it for you.
*** If you read 5+ buiness books a year make this one.
In the Preface, they note that "across the globe and across all industries, businesses are spending billions of dollars sending poorly aimed -- and in some cases offensive -- messages to their customers and leaving literally billions of dollars on the table each day. Instead of talking to customers in a language they can understand and find meaningful, most businesses are actually demonstrating -- through advertising, marketing, merchandising, product assortment and selection, transactional terms, and service levels -- that they don't respect or even know whom they are doing business with." In essence, that is the problem to be solved. Crawford and Matthews offer a number of specific strategies and tactics in response to the question "How?"
They organize their material within ten chapters: Field Notes from the Commercial Wilderness, The New Model for Consumer Relevancy, Would I Lie to You? ("The Overrated Importance of Lowest Price"), I Can't Get No Satisfaction ("Service with a Smile?"), I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For ("Access, Physical and Psychological"), Why "Good" Is Good Enough ("Issues of Product Bandwidth"), Do You Really Like Me? ("The Experience Factor"), Making Consumer Relevancy Work, Supply-Chain Realities, and finally,m Consumer Relevancy and the Future. The concept of Consumer Relevancy is central to everything Crawford and Matthews share in abundance and with eloquence. The attributes of Consumer Relevancy (i.e. price, service, access, product, and experience) have remained constant for centuries "and are "somehow inherently integral to the way people go about commerce" and indeed, according to the authors, the five attributes "emerge as almost preconditions to commercial relationships." In the final chapter, they assert that "the real business advantage will fall to to those companies that not only hear [the consumer's voice] but also listen to it and shape their offerings accordingly. And based on what we've found in our work on Consumer Relevancy, that's something much easier said than done."
Crawford and Matthews conducted research which involved more than 5,000 consumers. They were surprised by what that collective "voice" had to say. For example, 64% said that an "honest, consistent" price was more important to them than getting the lowest possible price, 73% rated "respect and courtesy" as the being most important to them in a satisfactory commercial experience, and 69% defined "superior" service as the ability to return products unconditionally..."the acid test" of whether or not a company really stands behind what it sells.
Many of the book's most important value-added benefits are derived from the "Self-Diagnostic" exercises (Price, Service, Access, Product, and Experience). Also from the "Formula for Success" summaries of key points developed within rigorous analyses of companies such as Dollar General, Superquinn, Circles, Record Time, Southwest Airlines, Campbell Bewley Group, and Gourmet Garage. And also from various Tables such as 2.1 ("Hierarchy of Interaction" which suggests what customers are really saying about how they want to interact with companies) and 10.2 ("The Transformation of Symbols, Meanings, and Conventional Practices -- from the Industrial to Post Information Ages"). I commend the authors on how well they write as well as how clearly they think. I also commend them for what I consider to be a unique quality of humility. Even with all of the research data at their disposal, they resist the temptation to say (in effect) "this is the consumer's voice which is telling you precisely how to conduct your business." They effectively challenge certain myths about excellence without replacing them with others.
Occasionally I read a book which can serve as the foundation of a workshop I can conduct for my corporate clients. Here's how it works. Key executives are required to read a given book such as this one in advance, then gather (preferably offsite) for at least a full day. The book's Table of Contents serves as the agenda. Each participant is required to challenge the book's core assumptions, then to suggest which combination of assertions and suggestions is most appropriate to the company's specific needs. Finally, everyone involved collaborates on an action plan to achieve whichever objectives the group has formulated.
I agree with Crawford and Matthews that most decision-makers in so-called "customer-driven" companies suffer from self-inflicted wounds because of their inability and/or unwillingness to eliminate Customer Irrelevancy. Crawford and Matthews wrote this book for them.
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