Featured Marketing philosophy

What is Marketing Myopia?

What is Marketing Myopia?

Marketing Myopia is a situation when companies concentrate on the product itself rather than the need it is going to satisfy. It can cause great hampers to businesses. So every company should thrive to avoid this problem. 

What is Marketing Myopia?

The term “marketing myopia” was first coined by Theodor Levitt in a 1960 Harvard Business Review marketing paper.

Marketing myopia is a shortsighted approach to business that excludes customer needs. 

As the term suggests, marketing myopia is a lack of marketing foresight.

When a business overemphasizes selling, it can easily fall into the marketing myopia trap at the cost of marketing research and action.

According to Levitt, businesses should address the practical aspects of their product in a societal context, rather than merely trying to sell things as best as possible.

Simply put, if one neglects their customers’ needs without futureproofing their product, they may be selling their business short.

A once-successful company may have been part of a former ‘growth industry,’ but it eventually became redundant or even failed due to the business owner’s marketing myopia.

However; Levitt used the railway industry as an excellent example of marketing myopia.

The railway industry once believed that people would always rely on trains to get from A to B. But what the railroad bigwigs didn’t realize was that they weren’t in the railway industry, but the transportation one.

The transportation industry was soon flooded with air travel and other more convenient forms of public transportation. As the urban world began to develop, trains stopped being the primary mode of transport, and the railway business suffered greatly.

Understanding Levitt’s Lessons

Theodore Levitt may no longer be with us, but his wisdom lives on.

His Harvard Business Review piece on marketing myopia advised a business model that focused more on the consumers’ needs than the company’s.

Levitt’s business theory focused on solving the consumers’ needs with a big-picture business strategy.

According to the German American professor and economist, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill; they want a quarter-inch hole.”

Any company’s services are only as relevant as the problems they solve.

Top 3 Causes of Marketing Myopia

A Disconnect between The Business and Its Customers:

The most common cause is a lack of understanding of what customers really want.

This can happen when businesses focus too much on their own products and services and not enough on what customers are actually looking for.

Marketing myopia can also be caused by a lack of investment in marketing research.

This can happen when businesses believe they already know everything they need to know about their customers and the marketplace.


An Unwillingness to Adapt:

Another common cause is a failure to keep up with changes in the marketplace.

This can happen when businesses become too comfortable with their current products and services and fail to adapt to new trends or technologies.


A Focus on the Past, Instead of the Future:

Many businesses become myopic because they are too focused on the past.

They may be reluctant to change their products or services, even when it is clear that customer needs have changed.


When Does Marketing Myopia Strike In?

Marketing myopia strikes when short-term marketing goals are given more importance than long-term goals. Some examples are:

  • More focus on selling rather than building relationships with the customers.
  • Predicting growth without conducting proper research.
  • Mass production without knowing the demand.
  • Giving importance to just one aspect of the marketing attributes without focusing on what the customer actually wants.
  • Not changing with the dynamic consumer environment.

Business, according to Levitt, is actually a customer satisfying institution and hence should be based on customers’ needs and desires.

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. 

How To Avoid Marketing Myopia 

Avoiding marketing myopia takes some work and additional research. The following section will detail how you and your business can ensure that you never become irrelevant or outdated in the market.


1. Establish A Clear Vision

While your product or service might be thriving in today’s market, that doesn’t mean that consumers will always need it. Forging a clear vision means understanding the demand of the present and that of the future.

While knowing just how your relevant customers’ needs will shift soon can be challenging, making a difference in their lives should always be your top priority.


2. Customer First, Product Second

Take a look at your product or service’s descriptions in your current marketing. Does said content describe your product or the problems it solves?

Your services should be able to address a consumer’s pressing needs. They should be built around solving a common problem rather than a potential or even imaginary one.


3. Marketing As A First Order

One of the main reasons so many product launches fail is insufficient prerequisite marketing. So many bright businesspeople have come up with otherwise great products that didn’t have a selling point.

You not only need to establish a related need in the modern context but the future one, too. Learn the potential future issues for your target segment and incorporate those solutions into your product or service’s design.


4. Continual Marketing

You should keep marketing even after a successful product launch. Find out where your product or service could be improved, and make those changes.

Take heed of customer complaints and suggestions. Then, you can reissue an optimized product or service in your next launch.


5. Monitor Your Competition

Seeing what the other team is up to is a common tactic in marketing, but monitoring it through the lens of marketing myopia will upgrade your detective work.

See what works for the competition and what doesn’t. How do they retain their clients and customers, and will these relationships last?


6. Diversify Your Offerings

You could efficiently address your customers’ related needs, as well as the ones that your products or services do.

The more comprehensive your offerings are, the more likely your customers will depend on you, especially if you add mixed and real value to their lives.


7. Don’t Be Scared To Experiment

Many companies are afraid to go against the grain and dabble with disruptive innovation. Experimentation is one of the few ways to appeal to consumers refreshingly.

The need for something new and original is a very real one. People are always looking for more straightforward ways to solve their problems, and if you can provide that for them, your consumer loyalty is assured.

There are plenty more ways to avoid marketing myopia, but this is a fantastic start. Now, let’s look at the case of marketing myopia in small businesses.


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.



About Author