The view that an industry is a customer-satisfying process, not a goods-producing process, is vital for all businesspeople to understand. An industry begins with the customer and his or her needs, not with a patent, raw material or selling skill. Given the customer’s needs, the industry develops backwards, first concerning itself with the delivery of customer satisfactions. Then it moves back further to creating the things by which these satisfactions are in part achieved. How these materials are created is a matter of indifference to the customer, hence the particular form of manufacturing, processing, or what-have-you cannot be considered as a vital aspect of the industry. Finally, the industry moves back still further to finding the raw materials necessary for making its products.
From Marketing Myopia, the 1975 Harvard Business Review article by Theodore Levitt about how companies can ensure growth. Link courtesy John Willshire. Solid advice for generations past, present and future.