Changing Light Bulbs (a): Westinghouse Super Bulb

2 Pages Posted: 30 May 2017

See all articles by Paul Farris

Paul Farris

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business


This is the first of a four-part case charting the influence of technological shifts on decision making in the light bulb industry. After years of a stable industry, with little change in products or distribution, Westinghouse introduces a bulb with markedly longer life, which calls attention to prevailing cost factors. The case provides opportunities for analyzing the interplay of demands among consumers, retailers, and manufacturers.



Rev. Oct. 8, 2013

Changing Light Bulbs (A): Westinghouse Super Bulb

In 1971, the light bulb category had produced few innovations if any since the introduction of soft white bulbs in the 1950s. So it was with great hopes of increasing share and reducing a growing emphasis on price competition that Westinghouse introduced the Super Bulb that year.

A premium bulb, the Super Bulb provided light for an average of 3,000 hours, three times the duration of competing bulbs. Westinghouse invested a considerable amount in promoting the Super Bulb, producing it in three standard wattages (60, 75, and 100) as well as a three-way version. With an ad campaign featuring the slogan, “Three times the life at two times the cost,” Westinghouse believed it had a product that would lead to share gains in the competitive U.S. lighting market. Compared to traditional A-line bulbs, the Super Bulb also had a distinctive appearance (Figure 1).

Figure 1. The Westinghouse Super Bulb.

. . .

Keywords: margins, differentiation, commodity

Suggested Citation

Farris, Paul, Changing Light Bulbs (a): Westinghouse Super Bulb. Darden Case No. UVA-M-0821, Available at SSRN:

Paul Farris (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States
434-924-0524 (Phone)


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