Seeing the Big Picture: Avoiding Marketing Myopia and Focusing on Customer Needs

In 1960, Harvard Business School professor Theodore Levitt came up with the term “marketing myopia” to describe how companies often make the mistake of focusing too much on their own products and industries instead of the needs and wants of their customers. Levitt said that companies that don’t change to meet their customers’ changing needs and wants are doomed to fail.

Marketing myopia is still important in the business world today, especially since technology is changing faster and there are more competitors. In this article, we’ll talk about what “Marketing Myopia” is, how it can hurt businesses, and how businesses can avoid it.

What is Marketing Myopia?

Marketing myopia is when a company defines its business too narrowly, putting more emphasis on its products than on its customers. Levitt said that this narrow focus leads to a lack of innovation and an inability to adapt to changing customer needs and preferences. This, in turn, leads to a loss of market share and, in the end, failure.

Levitt’s classic example of Marketing Myopia is the railroad industry, which he said didn’t change when other ways of getting around, like cars and planes, became popular. Levitt said that the railroads were too focused on their own product, trains, and didn’t realise that they were in the business of moving people. So, they missed chances to come up with new ideas and meet changing customer needs. As a result, they lost market share to competitors.

Marketing myopia can show up in a number of different ways. For example, a business might focus too much on its current customers and miss out on the chance to bring in new ones. They might also get too focused on their own products and miss what their customers really want and need.

Example 1 : Product focused Vs Customer focused

A company that sells vacuum cleaners creates an advertisement that focuses on the features and specifications of the product, such as its powerful suction and advanced filtration system.

The same company creates an advertisement that showcases the benefits of the product, such as how it helps customers keep their homes clean and free of allergens.

Example 2 : Industry-focused Vs Customer-focused

A bank creates an advertisement that emphasizes its long history and stability as a financial institution.

The same bank creates an advertisement that focuses on the convenience and ease of banking with them, highlighting features such as online and mobile banking, 24/7 customer service, and personalized financial advice.

Example 3 : Product focused Vs Customer focus

A fashion retailer creates an advertisement that highlights the latest fashion trends and styles in their collection.

The same retailer creates an advertisement that shows how their fashion items can be incorporated into everyday life, and how customers can use them to express their own personal style.

Example 4 : Industry-focused Vs Customer-focused

A car manufacturer creates an advertisement that boasts about the advanced technology and engineering that goes into their vehicles.

he same car manufacturer creates an advertisement that focuses on the experience of driving the car, highlighting features such as comfort, safety, and enjoyment.

Example 5 : Product-focused Vs Customer focused

A fast-food chain creates an advertisement that emphasizes the value and affordability of their menu items.

The same fast-food chain creates an advertisement that emphasizes the quality and taste of their food, as well as how it fits into customers’ lifestyles and needs, such as convenient and quick options for busy people on the go.

Why is Marketing Myopia a Problem?

Marketing myopia can cause companies a lot of trouble. Levitt said that companies that don’t change to adapt to their customers’ ever-evolving requirements and wants are doomed to fail. This is the case for a number of reasons:

Lack of innovation: If a company is too focused on its own products and industry, it might miss out on new ways to grow and innovate. This can cause the company to stay in the same place and lose market share as new companies come out with better products.

Missed Opportunities: When a company focuses too much on its current customers or products, it may miss chances to get new customers or grow into new markets. This can stop companies from growing and leave them open to threats from competitors.

Failure to predict change: Companies that focus too much on their own products and industries might miss changes in what customers want or how they want to buy things. This can make it hard for them to keep up with new trends or technologies, which can cause their market share to drop as competitors move in.

Inability to Respond to Competition: Companies that are too focused on their own products and industries might be slow to respond to threats from competitors. This can make them vulnerable to competitors who are faster and better able to change with the market.

How to Avoid Marketing Myopia?

So, how can businesses make sure they don’t get caught up in Marketing Myopia? Here are some ideas to think about:

Focus on Customer Needs: Businesses should try to figure out what their customers want and need and try to give it to them. This means paying attention to what customers say, doing market research, and being willing to change based on what customers want.

Take a Big Picture: Businesses should look at their business and industry as a whole, beyond their own products and markets, to find new ways to grow and improve. This means being open to trying out new markets and technologies and changing with the times and consumer tastes.

Encourage Innovation: Companies should promote a culture of innovation, creativity & risk-taking within their organisations. This means investing in research and development, exploring new technologies and ideas, and being willing to take calculated risks to stay ahead of the competition.

Stay Flexible: Businesses should stay flexible and able to change quickly in response to changes in the market and threats from competitors. This means being ready to change directions quickly when needed and trying out new strategies and methods to stay ahead of the competition.

Focus on Long-Term Growth: Instead of short-term profits, companies should focus on long-term growth and sustainability. This means putting money into the future, building strong relationships with customers, and keeping a strong brand identity that customers can identify with over time.

Foster a Customer-Centric Culture: Finally, companies should foster a customer-centric culture within their organisations. This means that they should stress how important it is to meet customer needs and wants in all parts of the business. This means putting the customer at the centre of all decision-making and building a company culture that puts customer satisfaction and loyalty first.

By embracing these strategies, companies can stay ahead of the competition and ensure long-term success in today’s rapidly changing business environment.

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