Marketing Myopia | Theodore Levitt
Updated: Mar 10
Marketing Myopia - A nearsighted focus on selling products and services, rather than seeing the “big picture” of what consumers really want. - Amy Gallo ( The Harvard Business Review)
The creator of Marketing Myopia was the late Theodore Levitt (Marketing professor at the Harvard Business School). The concept originated as a marketing paper in 1960 and republished in 2004. Levitt studied the consequences of a first sighted approach that focuses on the business or service over the customer purchasing the products. It’s easy to fall into the trap of being myopic and this read enforces that being in the “now” with marketing strategies, campaigns and insights is all well and good as long as the future plan is not neglected.
A vital emphasis throughout the book is that the components that make up a product in a company is not it’s business but how the customer engages/uses the product in action is what really matters. To achieve this a customer-centric approach is needed but the book has no intention to teach, Levitt simply provides perspective and encourages you to re-think and assess your marketing differently.
The date of the original article may encourage marketers to challenge the relevance of the concept in holding complete true value today. However, we must question if this research is no longer relevant then why are companies still falling into the trap of Myopia?
Levitt’s goal was not to provide definitive solutions but to encourage marketers to think differently and consider the long term vision. An example of this would be how Levitt “encouraged executives to switch from a production orientation to a consumer orientation.” The case study examples help you along the way to ensure you avoid neglecting the needs and wants of customers and ensure that organisational goals are orientated towards customer satisfaction.
The Railroad Lines case study is arguably the most famous of the many studies that Levitt reviewed. He argues that they declined due to thinking they were in the “train business” not the “transportation business”. This error could have been avoided if Company leaders had positioned themselves helping customers get from A to B and could have potentially expanded to aviation or other forms of transportation.
To avoid Marketing Myopia a starting point for marketers is when reviewing the company's business model and values. To cure Marketing Myopia you must have a clear vision with a future-focused approach which is covered in this must-read book which dives into an alternative way of thinking to help you achieve this.