Marketing Myopia is a business approach that focuses on the product rather than the customer needs it satisfies. It’s a short-sighted and inward-looking approach to marketing that sees the business failing to adapt to the changing market environment. The marketing myopia trap compels a business to prioritize business needs over consumer needs.
For instance, in the 1920s, the railroad companies became obsolete because they thought they were in the railroad business instead of the transportation business. They were product-focused instead of customer-focused, leading to their downfall.
Looking at the market from a myopic perspective results in the company ignoring the many opportunities and possibilities that the market represents. It also stops the growth of the company if the company is myopic. Marketing Myopia was the title of a marketing research paper by Mr. Theodore Levitt which was first published in the year 1960 in the same Harvard journal.
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What is Marketing Myopia?
Marketing myopia refers to a business mistake where a company becomes short-sighted and focuses solely on fulfilling short-term business needs and limits its marketing strategies to a narrow range of possibilities. This type of myopic thinking prevents a business from looking at the bigger picture, and consumer needs and recognizing new opportunities.
Marketing Myopia was first coined by Theodore Levitt, editor of the journal Harvard Business Review, and it refers to the often myopic view in which a business looks at short-term goals rather than long-term growth potential. This is similar to myopia (also known as nearsightedness) in medicine which causes difficulty in seeing distant objects.
It can also lead to the stagnation of the company, as there is no new vision or long-term strategy. Marketing myopia is the concept that businesses should prioritize creating products or services that will remain useful in the future, rather than solely focusing on selling them now. To put it simply, being myopic in business means –
- Focusing only on short-term goals and neglecting the bigger picture
- Looking inward instead of outward for opportunities
Marketing myopia is the inability to – see beyond current product offerings and consider future market potential. It is also known as product-centricity or short-termism.
Marketing myopia is a condition that affects many businesses that are unable to see beyond their current product offerings (for example transportation business). The management team becomes overly focused on the current set of products, services, and customers, and fails to consider how they can expand into new markets and add new products — failing into a self-deceiving cycle.
The most common cause of marketing myopia is an inability to adapt in response to changing market conditions. When businesses fail to adapt, they often find themselves stuck with excessive inventory, outdated equipment, or obsolete software systems. They cannot keep up with the competition and eventually lose market share as new entrants enter the industry.
- Marketing myopia leads to a lack of long-term strategic planning.
- It results in an inward-looking approach missing out on external opportunities.
- Failure to adapt to changing market conditions is a common cause.
Importance of Marketing Myopia
Both marketers and advertisers can use Marketing myopia theory to a great effect in understanding “if” they are catering to the needs of the right market.
They should also be constantly looking to find answers to questions such as –
“What if they were to cater to a market with a huge consumer base? What kind of marketing strategies should they adopt given such a scenario? How to strike a chord between supply and demand, such that they complement each other?”
According to this theory, marketers should be more interested in understanding the existing marketing conditions and try to modify the organization and its products depending on the market research made. This approach contradicts the traditional way of marketing in which the company and its potential to manufacture products are given greater importance over creating products that are capable of negotiating the existing market conditions.
In his attempt to make the theory interesting as well as adaptable to marketers, Theodore asks (from Harvard Business Review) an important question –
“If Hollywood were into television rather than movies, wouldn’t it have profited more?”
This question and its underlying explanation also make it an important case study and serve as a strong example of Marketing Myopia.
The reason is, that we all know that a huge chunk of humans, as well as financial resources, are being invested in Hollywood to make movies. However, only a mediocre part of those projects are being successful and making money. But, what if a part of this Hollywood crowd and production houses start concentrating on Television?
It might sound strange, but it’s true because TV has a greater potential to make money if the right amount of resources is invested into it. There were not enough studies or reports available at that time to prove Theodore was right. However, studies conducted later on showed that Hollywood would have made more money had it started catering to the needs of the Television market, which has a much wider customer base in the entertainment sector.
After Theodore’s point was proven practically, Marketing Myopia Theory (MMT) started gaining importance in the marketing mix, as more and more Hollywood companies started investing in Television. Today, most of Hollywood’s renowned production houses such as the Twentieth Century Fox, Sony, etc. have their own production houses that are exclusively devoted to the TV audience.
How Marketing Myopia Impacts Businesses
Marketing myopia can lead to unfavorable outcomes such as reduced marketing ROI and business failure. Examples of such outcomes include –
- The return on investment will be low – If you fall into the trap of marketing myopia, you may end up ineffectively spending your marketing budget. If you solely concentrate on certain marketing campaigns instead of utilizing a varied and economical marketing mix, you may experience this issue.
- Risk of being negatively affected by changes within the industry – Industries can be completely transformed by shifts in consumer preferences and technology. Failing to stay up-to-date with industry trends may result in your products or services becoming outdated.
- Missing future opportunities – Ignoring the real needs of your customers can result in missed opportunities to provide highly demanded products or services.
- Growth potential will be limited – Limitations on growth opportunities and hindrances to long-term success may result from the marketing myopic consequences.
Causes of Marketing Myopia
Small business owners often prioritize their own needs and products, which can lead to marketing myopia. However, neglecting important factors can quickly impact the business.
This type of myopia can be seen in many industries, including oil companies which have traditionally focused on their core product – oil – while ignoring opportunities like rapidly declining unit costs of production and manufacturing cost reduction.
Other companies, including those in the digital age, have focused solely on their specialized product and overlooked the emergence of any competitive substitute. Successful companies recognize that to remain competitive in their markets, they need to look beyond the industry’s major product and explore other avenues such as programmatic ad buying and carefully controlled scientific experimentation.
Hence, marketing myopia occurs when a company becomes too self-centered and short-sighted, neglecting external factors and long-term planning. This phenomenon is often caused by the following factors –
- Poorly differentiated goals – Companies may not have a clear understanding of their goals, or they may be too focused on short-term wins rather than long-term growth.
- Hubris – The company may become overly confident in its capabilities or view the market through rose-colored glasses.
- Lack of innovation – Companies may become stagnant and fail to innovate or update their products to stay competitive.
- Misunderstood customer needs – Companies may not take the time to understand the customer’s needs or preferences, leading to misalignment between what they offer and what customers want.
- Fear of change – Being overly cautious about changing your business model can lead to myopic tendencies, but taking risks also has its potential downsides.
- Immediacy bias – Urgent matters can distract a business owner from focusing on their goals in the long run.
- Stakeholder pressure – There can be a lot of importance given to immediate ROI by business stakeholders, which can make leaders focus more on short-term profits instead of a strategy for long-term growth.
Here is a video by Marketing91 on Marketing Myopia.
How to Avoid Marketing Myopia?
The best way to avoid marketing myopia is to make sure that you have a clear understanding of your target market and their needs. A business remains relevant when it knows the right ways to avoid marketing myopia.
By doing this, you will be able to create products that are competitive substitutes and cater to their needs and wants while keeping the manufacturing costs low, as well as provide them with the information they need to make an informed decision about whether or not to purchase your product.
Here’s how companies avoid marketing myopia:
1. Learn From Your Competitors
It’s easy to get caught up in your ideas and forget what’s working for others in the growing industry. Take a look at your competitors’ strategies, especially if they’re doing something similar or related to what you do. You may find that there are things they’re doing better than you are—and you can learn from them to increase your market share!
2. Identify Your Target Market and Stick to It
Once you’ve done some market research into what other companies are doing with marketing myopia, it’s time to take action!
Identifying your target market and consumer behavior means knowing who will benefit from using your product or service—and then focusing all of your efforts on reaching those people. This might mean creating content specifically for millennials or working with influencers who already have a following among those potential users.
3. Focus on the Consumer
If your only goal is to sell more of your products (without taking into account how they’ll be used) with mass production, then it’s likely that you’ll end up marketing myopia. Instead, focus on what your customers want and how they want to use your product. That way, you’ll be able to sell more—and in a way that doesn’t feel like selling at all!
4. Look Beyond Your Site for Traffic
Sometimes, you have to look beyond your website for traffic and business models. If other sites are already doing well with the same target audience you’re targeting, consider working with them to reach those consumers and grow your business with your marketing efforts!
5. Create Brand Presence
A brand is an asset that can be leveraged across all channels—from digital platforms to physical stores—to create awareness, engagement, and loyalty with customers. A strong brand should be able to stand out in any context; it should be memorable and distinctive.
To achieve this goal, you must focus on creating a consistent message across all touchpoints while also ensuring that the messaging resonates with customers in each region.
6. Adapt to Local Environments
Another way to avoid marketing myopia is by adapting your marketing strategy and business strategy to local environments so it resonate with consumers in different regions or countries where you operate businesses.
For example, if you sell products online then maybe it makes sense for them to have different types of packaging depending on where they’re being shipped; for example, if someone buys something from Australia then maybe they’d prefer if their package had more Australian flags on it rather than American ones (this would make them feel like they were buying from a company that understood their needs).
It’s all about creating an experience that feels natural and authentic to your consumers.
7. Monitor and Measure the customer experience
Monitor and measure your customers’ experience. Make sure your company is listening to what they have to say, and acting on it—even if it’s negative feedback! The more you know about how your customers feel about your products and services, the better you can make them.
8. Optimize Your Marketing Strategy
Finally, optimize your marketing strategy by regularly comparing its performance with that of competitors. If you’re doing something well, try to figure out what makes it so effective and apply that knowledge elsewhere in your business.
Marketing Myopia Examples
Here are a few examples of successful businesses that failed to get ahead in the growth industry.
Kodak was one of the first companies to develop digital cameras, but they failed to see how this would affect their business. This led them to miss their chance to enter the digital camera market early on and become the leader in the space.
Nokia was also a company that was unable to see how its products would affect the mobile phone market. The company focused on making phones that could communicate over cellular networks and they missed out on developing mobile apps for these devices.
3. Old Spice
Old Spice prided itself on being a successful company that didn’t care about marketing trends or fads—they were going to just do what they did well and do it consistently. That was until they tried to appeal to millennials by changing up their branding and advertising strategy.
They thought this would work but ended up alienating their core audience and falling into a slump from which they’ve never fully recovered.
When a company focuses too narrowly, it fails to recognize new opportunities that could provide long-term success. This can lead to a lack of innovation and flexibility in the face of market changes in the future. In this scenario, a marketing professional that focuses on meeting the changing needs of their customers and the wider market will thrive.
In short, Marketing Myopia Theory suggests an organization to
- Be as consumer-focused as possible
- Be constantly innovative
- Be in a position to control
- Be in a position to understand customer desires
- Be able to conduct regular research programs
- Be able to adapt to innovative marketing strategies depending on consumer feedback.
Thus, according to the MM Theory, for a business owner to be able to cater to the needs of a market, it not only needs to be technically sound but also consumer-oriented. It should also be able to understand the basic needs of the consumers and conduct regular research to find out various ways of improvising its products in an attempt to retain consumers’ interest for as long as possible.
It should also keep looking at various possible ways of adapting itself to the ever-changing market conditions and demands, only then can it survive the ever-increasing competition.
What is marketing myopia and its examples?
Marketing myopia is a concept that describes companies being too focused on selling their products or services, rather than understanding and addressing the needs of their customers. A classic example is the downfall of Kodak; they were so engrossed in selling film cameras that they missed the rising trend of digital photography. Another example is Blockbuster, which failed to see the potential in the online video rental industry and streaming, a sector Netflix capitalized on.
What is the main reason for marketing myopia?
The main cause for marketing myopia is the company’s short-sighted approach, focusing too heavily on sales rather than understanding and adapting to the evolving needs and desires of its customers. This lack of vision and adaptability can ultimately lead to the company’s downfall.
What are the types of marketing myopia?
There are four types of marketing myopia:
- Classic myopia is a product-definition/single-industry perspective
- Competitive myopia has a customer-definition/single-industry perspective
- Efficiency myopia comprises a product-definition/multi-industry perspective
- Innovative myopia refers to a customer-definition/multi-industry perspective
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