• Claudia Oradan

Marketing Myopia - Everything You Need to Know

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What is marketing? Many would define marketing as a sales representative of a firm visiting without invitation, trying to sell them, for example, a search engine optimization package for their business. But that is not marketing, that strategy concerns the sales department, which is a separate thing from the concept of marketing. Namely, the sales concept concentrates on the goal of the seller, which is to sell as much as possible. Meanwhile, the marketing concept focuses on researching and producing products that satisfy the needs of the customer (Kotler 2000). The American Marketing Association (2017), or AMA defines marketing as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large”. What about the concepts? There are three more concepts that define business’ orientation to the marketplace (Kotler 2000), other than the selling and the marketing concepts: the production concept (mass distribution of a product at low cost), the product concept (creating high quality products at a high price point), and societal marketing concept (which is similar to the marketing concept, except it includes worries about the environment and world crises).

Today we want to talk about the marketing concept. The whole point of the marketing concept is to satisfy customers’ needs and thus gaining competitive advantage (Kotler 2000). The marketing concept began to take shape in the 1950s and has four elements, namely target markets, customer needs, integrated marketing, and profitability (Kotler 2000). A newer version of this marketing concept is called the Holistic Marketing Concept, holistic meaning “whole”. This concept unites the departments of an organization, and so they work together on the marketing activities (Pickard-Whitehead 2019). However, one of the most important elements of the marketing concept is target marketing.

A target market is defined as “a particular portion of the total population which is identified by the marketer to be the most likely to purchase its products or services to the customers in the most valued way” (Columbia Southern University n.d.). So basically, using this strategy, the organization researches and analyzes the market and figures out which type of demographic is the most likely to enjoy a specific product. Then, they target that portion of the population with their marketing tools. For example, an independent nail polish brand that produces fun, bright colored nail polish (shimmery or holographic bright orange/green) will most probably try to target women under the age of 40, because that demographic is most likely to use colors like that. Marketing this product to other demographics, such as men (who don’t wear nail polish), or middle-aged/retired women (who like to wear more conservative/elegant colors), or women working in the medical field or on farms who can’t wear nail polish because of their job, will probably not bring in much revenue. But even targeting the right target market can prove to not be sufficient in making or keeping a company successful.

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Sometimes organizations will focus all of their attention on finding the right target market and marketing to that, or to pay serious attention to the customers’ needs so that they can make the right changes as those needs change – and they ultimately forget to look at the whole picture: they forget about the competitors, they forget to innovate, they forget about the environment and the community, and they forget to diversify. This organizational short-sightedness is called marketing myopia (Richard, Womack, Allaway 1993).

The term marketing myopia was first coined by Theodore Levitt in 1960. He described two dimensions of marketing myopia: how the management defines the firm (product-definition or customer definition), and the business environment perspective (single-industry or multi-industry). These dimensions, when combined, yield a matrix with four types of organization, and three types of myopia: classic myopia (combination of product-definition and single-industry perspective), competitive myopia (customer-definition and single-industry perspective), efficiency myopia (product-definition and multi-industry perspective), and lastly, innovative (customer-definition and multi-industry type). The last type of firm is not considered myopic, because they do not narrow themselves to only product design and a single industry. Instead, they focus on customer needs, they look at competitors to find inspiration from what they’re doing, and they also look at other organizations from different industries to see how they solve a similar issue. Another advantage is that these organizations are not afraid to employ professionals from a different industry, which brings in new marketing and problem-solving strategies (Richard, Womack, Allaway 1993).

Smith et al (2010) argue that nowadays there is a phenomenon called New Marketing Myopia. This concept came about because there are more things at stake than there were in the 1960s. In this day and age it is important to pay attention to all the stakeholders of a firm, not just the customers. Employees, shareholders, customers, the government, the environment, the community around the firm are all very important factors to focus on. Corporate social responsibility became crucial as we entered the 21. Century (Smith et al 2010). If an organization is still only preoccupied with client satisfaction, then it has a new marketing myopia.

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We saw many companies fail because they couldn’t keep up with new technology. One very clear example is the failure of Nokia. When we think of the early days of mobile phones, we most likely think of a Nokia phone. They were everywhere because they were accessible, good quality, and reliable phones. My mother actually still uses my first Nokia that I bought 16 years ago, it is in an impeccable shape! But they did a few things wrong. First, when smartphones started appearing on the market, they still kept designing the same old types of phones, they did not manage to keep up with the technological advancements. Second, they did not keep up with the competitors. Even though in the early stages they were the leading mobile phone brand, they did not improve as well as the emerging new competitors, such as Apple, Samsung, and Blackberry. Later, they even lost to the lesser quality brands, such as Huawei and HTC. There were other reasons to Nokia’s failure, such as lack of vision, lack of a strategic plan, lack of innovation, lack of market repositioning, internal rivalries, and so on, but most of them can be related to having marketing myopia (Ahmer 2019).

There are many other companies who became the victim of their own marketing myopia. We can only learn from their failures and try to do things differently with our own business or the company we work for. It is important to stay on top of the game and pay attention to every aspect of the business world, not just one industry, and not just one type of product.



Kotler, P. (2000) Marketing Management. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

American Marketing Association. (2017). What is Marketing? - The Definition of Marketing - AMA. https://www.ama.org/the-definition-of-marketing-what-is-marketing/

Pickard-Whitehead, G. (2019, December 09). What is Holistic Marketing and Should Your Small Business Use It? https://smallbiztrends.com/2019/08/what-is-holistic-marketing.html

Columbia Southern University. (n.d.). Unit I Lesson - The Principles of Marketing. https://online.columbiasouthern.edu/bbcswebdav/institution/CSEG_Content/Courses/COB/BBA/BBA3201/16R/Student/SupplementalContent/Presentations/UnitI_Presentation/UnitI_Presentation.pdf

Richard, M. D., Womack, J. A., & Allaway, A. W. (1993). Marketing myopia: An integrated view. The Journal of Product and Brand Management, 2(3), 49. http://dx.doi.org.libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/10.1108/EUM0000000002979

Smith, N. C., Drumwright, M. E., & Gentile, M. C. (2010). The New Marketing Myopia. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 29(1), 4–11. https://doi-org.libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/10.1509/jppm.29.1.4

Ahmer, A. (2020, December 07). Why Nokia Failed? https://www.doersempire.com/why-nokia-failed/