Follow along for a full breakdown of marketing myopia as well as some marketing myopia examples.
Marketing myopia can happen to new and successful companies alike.
Whether your company has been around since 1903 or just launched its first service last month, marketing myopia could be a problem.
Recognizing this problem and addressing to it to create growth could be an effective business strategy.
If you want to learn more, read on to find out what it is, what it means for your company, and what you can do to avoid it.
What Is Marketing Myopia?
Marketing myopia occurs when a company has a narrow set of goals that do not serve long-term goals.
It’s derived from “myopia”, which relates to being near-sighted or having a lack of foresight.
Companies that experience marketing myopia could have their long-term growth potential stunted from a lack of awareness about consumer interest.
In fact, myopic campaigns typically ignore the customers’ needs in favor of highlighting the product.
For example, a campaign may focus on product quality rather than what the consumer will gain by using the product.
While quality is an important factor for developing products, it’s important to remember that they should line up with the needs of the buyer.
Tacking on a bunch of features that the consumer doesn’t want or care about typically is not a pathway to increased sales.
Some other identifying features of myopic marketing include:
- Mass production rather than matching demand
- Predicting growth based on production capacity, not consumer need
- Prioritizing new sales instead of developing client relationships
- Conducting improper market research
While marketing myopia often spells trouble for businesses, the good news is that it’s easy to spot if you know what to look for.
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Is Marketing Myopia Good or Bad?
Implementing strategies that have characteristics of marketing myopia could be good in the short term, but it’s possible that long-term goals can be derailed.
Basically, marketing myopia can lead to a self-defeating cycle that can cause problems down the road.
So a company that wants sustainable growth might want to avoid implementing strategies that have tell-tale signs of market myopia.
Even if your company isn’t in a growth industry, you could still capture new growth opportunities by correcting course and understanding your consumers’ needs better.
Marketing myopia can be a successful strategy in a new market or for new product launches.
However, it is not a sustainable marketing strategy in the long term.
A few things can derail the cycle:
- Viable market competition
- Unlimited demand for the product or service
- Relying on population growth to grow the business
- Assuming product quality without conducting proper research
As a whole, marketing myopia lacks vision for the future of a company.
Again, it can be successful short term but should not be the only strategy a business employs.
Who Coined the Term Marketing Myopia?
Marketing myopia was first discussed in Harvard Business Review by Theodore Levitt.
Levitt concisely defined the term as what happens when a business serves itself rather than its customers.
In 1960, Levitt had defined a concept that would remain relevant for decades to come.
What Happens if a Company Falls into the Trap?
Over time, most consumers and customers become disconnected from the company.
There is no brand loyalty or personal attachment to the company because the company shows that it only cares about profit.
Eventually, an alternate product or service provider will enter the market.
By then, the customer will be eager to jump ship.
When a company has an inward-looking approach and stops meeting customer needs, it’ll fail.
Customers will look around for other businesses to fill their needs.
The original company will lose its customers rapidly, possibly to the point they can’t stay in business.
What Industries Does Marketing Myopia Apply To?
Marketing myopia occurs in most industries, both products and services.
Technology industries are particularly susceptible because new products and markets come up often.
This is not limited to software and computer industries, though.
Any industry that a competitive substitute can serve is susceptible to marketing myopia.
It is easy for a company to believe that its customers need a specific product rather than the product’s resulting experience.
Mobile phones are a recent example in the digital age.
Blackberry’s market started sinking when the company believed customers wanted a Blackberry instead of the features and capabilities of a mobile phone.
A classic example is an umbrella company believing that customers need an umbrella instead of a way to stay dry in wet weather.
Marketing Myopia Examples
Marketing myopia has modern examples in just about every industry.
Digital ebooks ousted the publishing industry.
Digital cameras and digital photography overtook the camera industry.
Digital marketing has overtaken print advertising.
The list goes on.
Let’s look at some real-life examples of marketing myopia you might recognize.
Transportation Business Changes
Consider the transportation industry and Taxi services.
The business model of Uber and Lyft are an excellent example of this.
Taxi companies lost sight of the immediate needs of their customers.
Not many people are loyal to a particular taxi company anymore.
When Uber launched its service, people were eager for a more convenient and cost-effective ride service.
Then Uber failed to maintain its hold on the app-based ride-sharing market.
Instead of improving its service or expanding its market, Uber relied on the absence of a competitor to keep it at the top.
When Lyft came onto the market, Uber took a big hit.
Traditional taxi companies and Uber both fell into the marketing myopia trap.
It worked for Uber at first because they were the next hot thing with new ideas, but that’s no way to build a sustainable business.
Blockbuster and Netflix
A similar example of marketing myopia happened with Blockbuster.
The video rental giant found success for decades and kept up with the market switching from VHS to DVD.
Physical media was an easy market for Blockbuster to dominate.
When Netflix launched in 1998, Blockbuster continued business as usual.
At first, the two services were similar enough that brand loyalty kept Blockbuster afloat.
As time went on, however, the market began to divide between Blockbuster and Netflix.
The convenient service Netflix provided drew customers away from Blockbuster.
By 2007, Netflix had delivered one billion DVDs to its customers.
That same year, Netflix launched its streaming service.
Blockbuster could not launch a home delivery service and compete with new streaming technology in the same year.
Blockbuster ignored the changing market, focusing instead on its proven success.
This is classic marketing myopia: reliance on the existing market to stay its course and support the company’s existing product.
How to Get Out of the Marketing Myopia Cycle
So how do you avoid marketing myopia?
If you’re hoping to stay away or already fell into the trap, read on for some key ways to get out of the cycle.
Consider the Customer
The number one way to avoid marketing myopia is to not lose sight of the consumers’ point of view.
Simply listen to and consider your customers’ needs and desires.
Feedback about your service and product will tell you exactly how to grow your business.
Does your website lack an email notification for products that are out of stock?
You could either lose customers who seek a replacement product or add that feature and serve your customers better.
These can be small improvements or major changes.
Either way, your customers should lead your marketing and business decisions if you want to avoid marketing myopia.
Research the Market
Market research is crucial for avoiding marketing myopia.
Your original idea helped launch your business, and new insights will keep it afloat.
If Blockbuster had beaten Netflix to the mail delivery punch, they would probably still dominate the home entertainment market.
Research can be as simple as sending a consumer survey out to potential and existing customers
Regular, thorough market research will pay off if you want to be in business long-term.
To recap, marketing myopia is a strategy that focuses on making sales in the short term.
No consideration is made for changing market dynamics or customer needs.
While this strategy can pay off initially, you’ll want to break the cycle to generate sustainable growth.