Nokia, Kodak, Yahoo! Do you remember how powerful these brands were once upon a time? They were at the top of their game before things came tumbling down. Back in 1960, Harvard Professor Theodore Levitt coined a term to describe this phenomena - Marketing Myopia. If you are familiar with eyesight issues, you will know that in myopia, a person sees distant objects blurry. Well, Prof. Levitt certainly didn't have this problem because he could foresee how many brands this term would apply to.
Marketing Myopia is simply a situation wherein the company has a microscopic view of the business world and can't foresee both distant opportunities and challenges. They invest too much time, energy, and resources in fulfilling their current obligations that they fail to plan for the future. As a result, they either become obsolete, or simply get their market share eroded by innovative, fast moving competitors who are faster in spotting market trends.
What causes Marketing Myopia?
There is no one explanation for Marketing Myopia. Different brands fail for different reasons depending upon their market, customers, management etc. However, a lot of these failures can be bucketed under these causes:
Complacency: This can be best explained with the case of Nokia. Nokia was at the peak of its game and the most dominant cell phone brand in the world by market share. The management felt like nothing could erode their position and therefore didn't take the threat of changing future trends seriously. They just sat back and kept maintaining status quo.
Not investing in R&D: Sometimes, the business is too focused in reaping profits and distributing it among the stakeholders. As a result, they just don't pump back enough into R&D. And in today's fast moving world driven by innovations, lack of R&D is like shooting oneself in the foot.
Lack of Customer-centricity: Some business still follow the sales concept or the production concept where they identify a need and a market, and then start bulk producing something. They never really get in touch with the customers to understand their pain points in a deeper, more personal manner. And it is usually during this time when another brand swoops in and attracts the customer through personalized products.
How can Marketing Myopia be avoided?
It may be really simple for me to put down some words here but I do realize that it is far more difficult for large scale organizations to follow and implement these. But action is simply intent put behind words or plans, and that's what organizations should do:
Talk to your customers: Talking to your customers offers multiple benefits. You can understand their pain-points better and in turn make your product more beneficial for them. After all, without the customers, there is going to be no product! At an ARF Conference, 3M acknowledged that one of their latest products was as a result of a complaint call received by their customer care team. Treat customer complaints like a chance to innovate rather than a negative feedback.
Talk to your team openly: A lot of companies take decisions at the upper level and then pass it down. However, the best and the brightest idea can come from anywhere. Companies like Google and Amazon swear by this, and are today two of the top 5 companies in the world. In fact, products like Amazon Prime and AWS were the brainchild of engineers within one of their many 100s of teams.
Acknowledge your failures: Some companies are just too egoistic to accept their failures. But as they say, every failure is a stepping stone to success. If you can't accept it, you can't fix it. That's why failures should be treated as opportunities to go better, and not as a question mark on the company itself. Nintendo, Apple and many other brands have failed at various points but emerged from it because they went back to the drawing board to see where they went wrong.
Have any interesting modern day marketing myopia stories? Share them in the comments below!