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Marketing Myopia: Examples, Definition & Summary

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Taught by

Shawn Grimsley

A business suffering from marketing myopia lacks vision to succeed. In this lesson, you'll learn about marketing myopia and be provided some examples. A short quiz follows the lesson.

Definition

The term marketing myopia was first expressed in a famous article of the same name written by Theodore Levitt for the Harvard Business Review in 1960. In 'Marketing Myopia,' Levitt argued that many companies incorrectly take a shortsighted approach to marketing, viewing it as merely a tool for selling products. Instead, he argued that companies should look at marketing from the consumer's point of view. For example, a company that sells hiking boots should not define its marketing in terms of sales of hiking boots, but market itself as a company concerned with outdoor exploration and adventure.

Conceptual Framework and Examples

The fundamental concept to take away from marketing myopia is that a business will survive and perform better if it focuses on satisfying customer needs rather than selling specific products. Thus, this is as much about marketing as it is about strategic planning.

Every industry once upon a time was once considered a 'growth industry.' For example, the buggy whip industry - an example torn directly from Levitt's article - once was thriving with many buggy whip manufacturers and purveyors of buggy whips for horse drawn carriages. But then Henry Ford came along and the buggy whip industry went into decline and eventually became extinct.

Buggy whip companies did not go out of business because of the advent of cars, according to the concept of marketing myopia. Rather, they went out of business because they were too focused on seeing themselves as buggy whip companies selling buggy whips. If they instead envisioned themselves as being in the transportation business, they have been able to transition to products and services related to the emerging auto industry or other sectors of the transportation industry.

Levitt believed that products should be viewed as a consequence of marketing rather than marketing being a necessary consequence of a product. Again, the focus should be on filling customer needs through goods and services rather than creating goods and services and then attempting to find customers.

This view will help a company survive and adapt. For example, let's return to our company that makes hiking boots. If hiking falls out of favor, a company that does not suffer from marketing myopia will see its role as fulfilling their customer's need for outdoor activities and adventures. Perhaps the company will start building mountain bikes or shift production to camping equipment and apparel. The point is to not permit your product to define you and thereby limit your ability to adapt when the world changes.

Summary

Marketing myopia is a term coined by Theodore Levitt. A company suffers from marketing myopia when a company views marketing strictly from the standpoint of selling a specific product rather than from the standpoint of fulfilling customer needs. If you view marketing from the broader perspective of fulfilling customer needs, you will be able to adapt to changes in the market. On the other hand, if you take the myopic view that marketing is merely selling widgets to customers, your company may die when the widget falls out of favor in the marketplace.

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