Marketing Myopia (Levitt)

Marketing Myopia - Toolshero

Marketing Myopia: this article explains the concept of Marketing Myopia in a practical way. Next to what it (definition) is, this article also highlights a Marketing Myopia and missed opportunities example Kodak, the importance of marketing strategy, the pitfalls, the importance customer insight and the key to be successful. After reading, you’ll have a basic understanding of this marketing concept. Enjoy reading!

What is Marketing Myopia?

Marketing Myopia definition

Marketing Myopia is the name given to companies that are short-sighted and look no further than their own product. Myopia means ‘near-sighted’. Marketing itself is the field in which research is conducted into how the market can best be conquered and where customers also remain customers through repeat purchases and related products. Marketing Myopia means that some organizations do not look ahead and have no long term goals.

In 1960, it was the American marketing professor Theodore Levitt who came up with the term and published it for the first time in an article in the marketing magazine Harvard Business Review.

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According to Levitt, Marketing Myopia is something that many commercial organisations that offer products or services suffer from, namely that they have a short-sighted and inward-looking approach to marketing.

With this short-sightedness, they are only focused on the needs of the company itself and its organisations are unable to focus on the needs and wishes of the customer. Organisations should adapt quickly to the changing market and better tailor their products to what the customer actually wants to be successful companies.

Marketing Myopia and missed opportunities including an example

According to Levitt, many companies miss out on opportunities when they suffer from Marketing Myopia. For example, photo camera producer Kodak refused to produce digital cameras and look into competitive substitutes, while customers had an increasing desire for them.

The dramatic result is known; Kodak went under and is no longer the leading player in the worldwide photography industry. Levitt described it in his article as follows: ‘people do not buy a drill, but they want a hole’. Other companies avoided Marketing Myopia and remained successful in their respective industry, some even increased their market shares.

According to Levitt, companies focus too much on their own products, but it is really about the primary needs of the customers and what they are looking for. That is why it is essential that, when companies suffer from Marketing Myopia, they turn from product orientation and change to customer orientation. Eventually, companies will become successful by concentrating on the needs of their customers.

One of the characteristics of Marketing Myopia is a self-deceiving cycle. An example of such a cycle is the belief that the growth of the organisation is guaranteed by the increase in population.

Marketing strategy

In order to keep growing, companies would do well to determine the needs and wishes of their customers. Only then can they act and produce and offer products that match what their customers want. As a result, companies will have to put less emphasis on the expected life of their products.

The fact that sales are stagnating does not always have to do with a saturated market. This is more due to the changing tastes, wishes and needs of customers and consumers.

It is not about short-term thinking and the illusion that a company is in a so-called growth market. This is a conviction that leads to self-complacency in companies, while their customer should be the focus.

By looking carefully at this and being open to this, companies will be able to change their marketing strategy dramatically.

Marketing Myopia Pitfalls

The reason that Marketing Myopia frequently occurs in companies has to do with the fact that it is difficult to predict the future accurately. There are also a number of falsehoods that companies stick to, which only stimulate short-sightedness.

For example, there is often the conviction that it is impossible to produce substitutes, with which the original product can be replaced. Another pitfall is the knowledge that too often it is thought that only a growing and prosperous population can lead to business growth. Many companies also have a misconception of relying on the benefits of mass production.

This is indeed a fast and inexpensive means of production, but when the consumer demand is gone, companies are left with huge amounts of stock. Finally, it is often thought that it takes a lot of time, research and development to tailor new products that meet the wishes and needs of the consumer.

Customer insight

Even companies that keep their customers in mind may suffer from Marketing Myopia. They are unable to see the broader social context of business decision-making. This can then have disastrous consequences for their organisations. One of the mistakes they make is having a too narrow idea of who their customers are and what their needs are.

Yesterday’s customer will be different tomorrow, and every year the idea of the customer needs to be re-examined. It is also possible that companies are so focused on their current customers that they exclude other target groups and potential customers in advance.

Key to be successful

Every company can operate more successfully by being more focused on the actual needs of the customer. By walking in the customer’s shoes and getting an idea of their needs and wishes, companies can operate in a more customer-friendly way. This will lead to satisfied customers, who will share and promote your company by word of mouth.

Customers are people, and people are creatures of habit. Nonetheless, companies must stay alert and know what is going on with their customers. If not, there is a good chance that the competitor will recognise this and will attract the customers. By making the right decisions and taking the customer’s needs into account, companies are able to survive and get rid of Marketing Myopia.

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It’s Your Turn

What do you think? Have you ever heard of Marketing Myopia? Do you recognize the practical explanation or do you have more suggestions? What are your success factors for getting a grip on product marketing?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

More information

  1. Kotler, P., & Levy, S. J. (1969). A new form of marketing myopia: rejoinder to Professor Luck. The Journal of Marketing, 55-57.
  2. Levitt, T. (2004). Marketing myopia. Harvard business review., 82(7/8), 138-149.
  3. Levitt, T. (1962). Innovation in marketing, new perspectives for profit and growth. McGraw-Hill.

How to cite this article:
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Original publication date: 07/25/2018 | Last update: 08/16/2023

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Patty Mulder
Article by:

Patty Mulder

Patty Mulder is an Dutch expert on Management Skills, Personal Effectiveness and Business Communication. She is also a Content writer, Business Coach and Company Trainer and lives in the Netherlands (Europe).
Note: all her articles are written in Dutch and we translated her articles to English!


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