Marketing Myopia Definition

What is Marketing Myopia?

Marketing myopia is a concept coined by Theodore Levitt in 1960 to describe companies who are overly focused on their own products and lose sight of the customer’s actual needs and the larger market. It refers to a short-sighted approach to marketing that focuses too narrowly on what the company makes rather than analyzing the market and what customers want.

Key Characteristics of Marketing Myopia

There are a few key characteristics of marketing myopia:

– Narrow product definition – Companies define themselves in terms of their specific goods and services rather than customer needs. They view themselves as selling what they make rather than analyzing what the customer actually wants to buy.

– Preoccupation with growth – There is too much focus on increasing sales of existing products rather than developing new products and innovations to meet evolving consumer demand. Companies fail to adapt.

– Failure to recognize broader industry trends – Companies are unaware of or ignore larger societal and technological changes that impact customer needs and the competitive landscape. They cling to the status quo.

– Lack of long-term vision – There is a failure to look beyond immediate short-term profits and sales numbers. Companies fail to anticipate future challenges or opportunities.

Examples of Marketing Myopia

Some classic examples of marketing myopia include:

– Railroads – Originally focused on railroads rather than transportation, failing to adapt to new modes like air travel.

– Polaroid – Fixated on instant print cameras rather than visual communication technology. Missed the digital photography revolution.

– IBM – Viewed itself as a mainframe computer company rather than an information technology provider. Was slow to adapt to PCs.

– Blockbuster – Defined its business primarily around video rental stores rather than home video entertainment. Disrupted by on-demand streaming.

How to Avoid Marketing Myopia

There are a few strategies companies can use to avoid marketing myopia:

– Analyze broad consumer needs and wants – Go beyond your product and assess the actual problem the customer is trying to solve.

– Adopt a customer-first mindset – View every decision from the customer’s perspective and ensure you are satisfying their evolving needs.

– Study market trends and disruptive innovations – Continuously research the external landscape for technologies or competitors that may disrupt your industry.

– Take a long-term view – Think beyond just short-term sales and consider long-term implications of new innovations and changes.

– Be open to reinventing your business – Rather than clinging to legacy products, be willing to reinvent your company around new opportunities.


Marketing myopia refers to a narrow-minded approach to marketing that focuses too much on products rather than consumer needs and market dynamics. Companies can avoid myopic mistakes by thoroughly understanding customer problems, continuously researching market changes, and being willing to redefine themselves to capitalize on new opportunities. The key is to view the market from the customer perspective rather than being self-centered on products and sales.

Digging Deeper into Root Causes

There are often deeper root causes behind why organizations fall into marketing myopia traps. Some additional reasons companies become myopic include:


Success often breeds complacency. Once a company establishes dominance in a market, it begins to coast on past achievements rather than innovating. It fails to recognize threats until it is too late.

Status Quo Bias

Large organizations in particular suffer from status quo bias. There is resistance to change and a tendency to want to stick with legacy systems and products that made the company successful historically.

Not Invented Here Syndrome

Companies often suffer from NIH syndrome – the tendency to only value innovations and ideas developed internally rather than looking outside for fresh thinking. This causes them to discount disruptive competitors.

Poor Listening to Customers and Frontline Employees

Myopic companies frequently don’t solicit or listen to feedback from customers, frontline staff, and industry experts that could alert them to evolving needs or competitive threats.

Avoiding Marketing Myopia in Today’s World

Given the rapid pace of technological change today, avoiding marketing myopia is more critical than ever. Some best practices include:

Continuous Market Research

Conduct ongoing market research with current and prospective customers to understand emerging needs. Supplement with data analysis.

Develop a Culture of Innovation

Build an organizational culture that embraces change and new thinking rather than resisting it. Encourage innovation across the company.

Foster External Partnerships

Proactively partner with startups, universities, and other external organizations to stay on the leading-edge of new technologies in your industry.

Implement Voice of the Customer Programs

Solicit customer feedback at all touchpoints to understand pain points and opportunities. Eliminate myths and assumptions.

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