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The following article is a historical case study on the obstacles confronted by Hillerich & Son and the strategies the company employed to survive in a tumultuous industry. Three key marketing strate­gies will be discussed. These key strategies, al­though historical in nature, are still effectively used by manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers in the 1990s. Furthermore, Hillerich & Son's marketing strategies defy the historical production era model. According to the production era model, production was manufacturers' primary concern until 1930. Customer research was inconsequential since demand exceeded supply and competition was scarce within product markets.Hillerich & Son's marketing strategies in the first decade of the 20th century exem­plify that following eras, production (1870-1930), sales (1930-1950), and-marketing (1950s), were not a sequential evolution. Competition in the baseball bat industry was indeed fierce. Consequently, manu­facturers concentrated on the customer to ascertain desired products and product attributes. This case study suggests that marketing has always been an integral part of company strategies. This proposi­tion is exemplified by Hillerich & Son's three key marketing strategies, 1) the 1912 push rule, 2) the 1914 youth market decision, and 3) the 1919 na­tional advertising campaign.


Originally published in:

Miller, L. K., Fielding, L. W. & Pitts, B. G. (1993). The rise of the Louisville Slugger in the mass market. Sport Marketing Quarterly, 2(3), 9-16.

Posted with the permission of the publisher.

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