Marketing myopia, also known as the innovation trap, is a common problem for companies.
It's when companies or product leaders focus so much on their product or service that they don't notice how their customers are reacting to it—what they really want.
This can come from a lack of information or a lack of understanding of how customers view their products or services.
This can lead to serious consequences for businesses that don't address it quickly enough.
The good news is that there are ways to avoid marketing myopia and prevent it from hindering your company's growth.
This article will break down how marketing myopia happens and how you can avoid it.
What Is Marketing Myopia?
Marketing myopia is the inability to see the big picture. It's a problem that can affect all companies, small or large, though the effects are often more pronounced in large corporations.
Large businesses have many stakeholders with different needs, which means it can be easy for a company to lose sight of its larger goals and focus on short-term gains at everyone else's expense.
For example, a company that cares only about sales might decide not to invest in research and development (R&D), which could slow down innovation and hurt their long-term prospects by preventing them from creating new products that would further satisfy customers' needs.
In this sense, the most effective leaders are able to see the big picture while also focusing on what's immediately in front of them. They're able to focus on long-term goals while still making short-term decisions that move those goals forward.
A Closer Look At Marketing Myopia —The Causes Of Marketing Myopia
Marketing myopia is a term first coined by Theodore Levitt in 1960.
It's a type of cognitive bias that occurs when a business focuses on the short-term and loses sight of the long-term. The result? A company that is constantly trying to find new customers instead of building relationships with existing ones by identifying their needs and wants.
The "new marketing myopia" occurs when marketers fail to see the broader societal context of business decision-making, sometimes with disastrous results for their organization and society.
It is the result of three distinct problems: a narrow focus on consumers, exclusion of other stakeholders from consideration in the design process, and failure to recognize that societal changes impact business requirements.
Marketing Myopia Examples
Even the most successful companies are at risk of making shortsighted decisions.
When studying case studies and examples of myopia in marketing, it is helpful to be aware of the ways you might fall into this self-deceiving cycle.
Here are some examples of marketing myopia:
- Neglecting to identify a target demographic: Some companies don't take the time to identify their target demographic. This can lead them to create products and services that don't meet their potential customers' needs, or they might end up targeting multiple demographics with a single product.
- Overconfidence: Companies sometimes make decisions based on the data they have rather than the data they need to collect. This is a problem because it can lead to overconfidence in your own abilities and blind you to new information that could change your strategy. Overconfidence can also lead you to ignore important signals from customers.
- Ignoring customer feedback: Sometimes, companies simply ignore customer feedback because it doesn't fit into the current strategy, even though it could be a valuable resource for future marketing efforts.
- Rushing product development: Companies that rush product development often end up with a poor-quality products, which can result in lost sales.
- Ignoring social media: Some companies don't take advantage of the potential for customer engagement that exists within social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. This can lead to missed opportunities for not only brand promotion, increased brand loyalty and more sales leads but, most importantly, understanding customers.
Other real-life examples include: Kodak losing much of its market share to Sony cameras when digital photography took off because Kodak didn't adapt quickly enough.
Nokia's loss in the smartphone market was due to its failure to innovate, market and price its phones properly for both emerging markets as well as developed ones.
Studios struggling with how best to exploit television content - rather than focusing on film releases which make up an increasingly small percentage of overall revenue
Is Marketing Myopia Still Important?
Yes, marketing myopia is still a problem.
Deighton notes that "the original idea wasn't very prescriptive. Levitt didn't offer ‘ten steps to eliminate marketing myopia,' but rather he was all about provoking people to think differently."
The need to move more quickly is not just the lament of a few companies; it's a widespread business problem.
For example, big data and artificial intelligence are two areas where companies are making headway.
But they're still struggling to integrate these technologies into their overall business strategy because most of them think that it is a must without considering what impact it will have on their customers.
Companies like Amazon and Netflix have been successful because they've been able to leverage their data insights into new products and services that consumers want.
They asked the question of what business they were really in. And then, they were able to leverage their data into new products and experiences consumers wanted.
Marketing Myopia In Small Businesses
Marketing myopia can also occur in small businesses.
While it's vital for a business to focus on its own product and services, if you're so focused that you have no awareness of the wider market or new trends, this can be harmful. At the early stage of your company, your main focus should be fulfilling your customer's needs instead of putting a lot of effort into future product features.
As you grow, however, it's important to keep an eye on the competition and new trends in your industry so that you don't get blindsided by a competitor offering something better.
You need to stay aware of the wider market in order to do well in it. You also need to be able to adapt your strategy as new trends emerge.
The Case For Green Marketing Myopia
Green marketing myopia happens when brands focus more on a product's green features rather than the benefits for consumers. Consumers—even environmentally conscious ones— want products that offer some kind of direct benefit, even if those benefits are purely symbolic.
Companies that put too much emphasis on the organic benefits of their products rather than how well they perform and solve customer problems may be setting themselves up for failure.
Brands must make sure that their eco-friendly claims are visible to customers without compromising the efficacy or safety of their products.
When companies fail to accommodate both environmental and financial interests in strategy, they enter a "green marketing myopia" that causes them to lose sight of their strategic direction.
Marketing myopia is a complex phenomenon that can have a serious impact on your small business.
When marketers ignore stakeholders, they do so at their own peril: ignoring customers will lead them to lose business and alienate potential buyers; ignoring employees will cause alienation in the workplace and lower productivity, and ignoring society leads to unethical or unsustainable practices.
We identify how marketing's myopic focus on customers and failure to give attention to a broad range of stakeholders can have serious adverse consequences for marketers, their firms, and society.
We see marketing management as involving collaboration among multiple stakeholders in the generation of value.
Marketers can help to realize this vision through:
A company can map its stakeholders, determine their salience, research issues and expectations—and measure impact. It can then engage with those stakeholders in order to embed a stakeholder-oriented approach throughout the organization.
Marketing practitioners and researchers must realize that the firm is deeply embedded in society, and it should therefore it should focus on customers and stakeholders. This will allow firms to prosper in a business environment where unpredictable trends are on the rise.
Smith, N. C., Drumwright, M. E., & Gentile, M. C. (2010). The New Marketing Myopia. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing. https://doi.org/10.1509/jppm.29.1.4
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