Marketing Myopia – Characteristics, Examples, and How to Avoid It

Marketing Myopia – Characteristics, Examples, and How to Avoid It

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Syed Aquib Ur
Syed Aquib Ur Rahman
Senior Executive Content
Updated on Dec 5, 2023 20:29 IST

Marketing myopia, when unaddressed, poses a severe threat to business sustainability. Focusing solely on short-term gains can hinder a company's ability to adapt, innovate, and meet evolving customer expectations, potentially leading to market irrelevance and eventual business obsolescence amidst fierce competition. Addressing myopic tendencies is crucial for sustained growth and relevance in the dynamic market environment.

Marketing myopia

Yesteryear market leaders such as Nokia and Kodak are almost out of popularity and have diminished market shares today. These brands revolutionised their own technologies but failed to meet future consumer demands.

So you can say their success was not based on a long-term goal that could withstand the evolving market. This situation is best understood by the term, marketing myopia. Let’s explore more. 

  1. What is marketing myopia?
  2. Characteristics of marketing myopia
  3. Examples of marketing myopia
  4. How to avoid marketing myopia

What is Marketing Myopia?

Marketing myopia is a term coined by Harvard Business School professor, Theodore Levitt. Since then, it has been a common term in the world of marketing

Levitt describes marketing myopia to be a short-sighted insight of the company that fails to understand the evolving customer needs. It also means that the company is only looking to achieve short-term goals without looking into the bigger picture. 

The definition of marketing myopia can equate to many aspects of any business. 

Here are some situations when marketing myopia can kick in

  • A company is looking to quickly generate sales and not looking into improving customer service
  • A business develops the most innovative products but spends too less on branding
  • A successful YouTuber asks viewers on the channel to hit a million subscribers in a short period of time but does not look into the quality of subscribers

You can say that marketing myopia also happens when a business is looking at one attribute and neglecting other important ones. 

Characteristics of Marketing Myopia

In Levitt’s 1960 article in Harvard Business Review on marketing myopia, the reason for a brand to fail is not because of saturation in the market. It is in fact an overlooked aspect of the company’s managerial department. 

He also discusses four conditions for marketing myopia to happen and how the management of a company is involved.

More Population Equals More Profits 

Businesses that become successful in a high-growth industry believe that the product will be bought by a population that is wealthy. And that too, the number of consumers will keep increasing in the future. 

Levitt states that in a high-growth market where investors are many, the successful manufacturer is not forced to market the product imaginatively. That means they are not likely to focus much on creating efficient marketing strategies that speak to the customer. The focus goes into selling the product as much as possible. 

No Competition Forever

A successful company may be the only manufacturer in the market, but that does not mean it will stay that way for a long time. Many companies fail to recognise this, and they end up losing to a competitive substitute. 

(On the flip side, they can constantly revise their business strategies using SWOT analysis.)

Mass Production to Reduce Manufacturing Costs

This is another factor that makes a business completely forget the customer’s needs and desires. They are constantly thinking about reducing their own production costs as they have to manufacture for a larger population. This creates a self-deceiving cycle for the company. 

Too Much Research and Development

Levitt stated in the article that companies ‘pay too much attention to it’. This creates the illusion that too much R&D will make a product superior. What the senior management does is that it allows more expenditure on production instead of spending on marketing. 

To give you some context in the current scenario, marketing expenditure nowadays is going higher and higher each year. According to Gartner, marketing budgets will cross 9.5 % of total company revenue in 2023. It was 6.4% in 2021. 

Examples of Marketing Myopia

You read in brief earlier how brands such as Nokia and Kodak, let’s explore them in detail. 

Example#1 – Nokia

Nokia was a global leader in the mobile phones market between 1997 and 2007. It had even developed touchscreen phone technology years before Apple. 

Ari Hakkarainen, marketing manager for the Series 60 Nokia phones, mentions in an interview what happened even after they developed the touchscreen – “And it was an expensive device to produce, so there was more risk involved for Nokia. So management did the usual. They killed it.”

Fast-forward to 2013, Apple’s market share rose to $3,198.67 billion from $111.90 billion in 2007. Nokia, on the other hand, had a market share of $116.8 billion in 2007 which reduced to $16.16 billion by 2013. (Source: Retail Dive)

Example#2 – Kodak

Similar to Nokia, Kodak developed the digital camera back in 1975. But they did not bring it to the market until it was too late. 

It was already a market leader and did much to strengthen it as a brand that was in the film business rather than the storytelling business. 

So it approached marketing with a focus on the product instead of understanding the needs of the evolving customer base that soon began to go digital. Soon it was outlasted by Canon and Sony as digital imaging became increasingly popular in the market. 

Fast-forward to 2012, Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. 

How to Avoid Marketing Myopia

Here are some aspects that help brands avoid such a situation

Knowing the Customer

In today’s customer-centric market, knowledge of the customer is key to success. Personalisation has taken centre stage in every marketing direction. Focusing on customer segmentation and creating customer journey maps are crucial. Understanding evolving consumer behaviour is also important. 

Using the Marketing Mix Effectively

The marketing mix is nothing new, yet it continues to evolve. Today it is all about utilising the interrelationship among all the P’s of the marketing mix so that customers, competitors and partnerships are given equal importance when you are creating a marketing strategy. 

Utilising the Best of Traditional and Digital Mediums 

Even though it is cost-effective, strictly focusing on digital marketing may not create a brand reach in some markets. It is best to use both traditional and digital marketing tactics, which is could be beneficial with an omnichannel marketing approach. On the other hand, do check out traditional marketing vs digital marketing

Parting Thoughts

As you can tell, marketing myopia implies a failure of a business. The best way to avoid this is to keep a track of the evolving needs of the market. It is best to leverage various marketing strategies that are able to address and resolve the concerns of customers.

If you are to create your own marketing strategies for your product or service, there are plenty of short marketing courses as well as digital marketing courses that can help you determine the right direction for your business.

FAQs

How does marketing myopia affect a company's long-term success?

Marketing myopia hampers long-term success by focusing solely on short-term goals, neglecting evolving customer needs and market trends, leading to diminished market relevance and eventual decline.

Can companies shift from marketing myopia to customer-centric strategies?

Absolutely. By prioritising customer insights, personalised experiences, and adapting marketing strategies based on customer behaviour, companies can transition from myopic approaches to customer-centric strategies.

What role does innovation play in mitigating marketing myopia?

Innovation is pivotal in combating myopia as it encourages continuous adaptation to changing market demands, fostering a forward-thinking approach that aligns products or services with evolving customer needs.

How do companies strike a balance between cost-effective marketing and addressing customer needs?

Balancing cost-effective marketing methods with addressing customer needs involves a blend of traditional and digital marketing strategies, creating an omnichannel approach to reach diverse consumer segments effectively.

How does marketing myopia affect a company's brand perception and consumer trust?

Marketing myopia impacts brand perception by diverting focus from customer needs. Neglecting to adapt to evolving market demands may lead to a disconnect between the brand and consumers, eroding trust and diminishing brand loyalty. This myopic approach can tarnish a brand's image, making it challenging to regain consumer confidence and credibility in the competitive marketplace.

About the Author
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Syed Aquib Ur Rahman
Senior Executive Content

Aquib is a seasoned wordsmith, having penned countless blogs for Indian and international brands. These days, he's all about digital marketing and core management subjects - not to mention his unwavering commitment ... Read Full Bio

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