The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Myopia
Myopia – perhaps some of you may be familiar with this term but you may be wondering, how does it relate to marketing? For those of you who do not know, myopia describes the phenomenon of distant objects appearing very blurry. Some people just call it nearsightedness. So when you hear the word “Marketing Myopia”, what comes to mind? Is it the shortsightedness of marketing tactics? Failure to see the long-term goals of marketing schemes? Well the answer is yes and no. It is a little more complex and multi-layered than that description.
Marketing Myopia is the title of a marketing paper written by Theodore Levitt that was published in the Harvard Business Review in 1960. According to the writer, businesses will do better in the end if they focus their attention on meeting customers’ needs rather than on selling products.
This brings up the age-old debate of selling vs. marketing. Many people conflate the two terms. Selling is concerned with the needs of the seller and/or manufacturer whereas marketing is more concerned with satisfying the needs of the buyer and client. When you are selling, you are putting your efforts into creating the best product on the market (according to you) that will appeal to the broad spectrum of the target audience. When you are marketing, you are taking what you have made (not necessarily perfect) and tailoring it to appeal to a particular customer’s needs.
Many businesses put far too much emphasis what they are creating and selling but fail to look at the bigger picture – what do my clients actually want? Marketing Myopia is deals with the shortsighted nature of many companies who start strong but end up failing at the end. These companies seem to concentrate so much on immediate short-term gains that they lose sight of making profits and benefits in the long run.
To give you a better idea of what Marketing Myopia is, we have compiled an extensive guide for you that goes over several talking points of marketing. By the end of this, we hope to have clarified the mystery of marketing and made you open your eyes a little bit wider to see the bigger picture of long-term gains.
In this guide, we’ll explore 1) what is marketing myopia, 2) what are its causes, and 3) proven strategies to avoid or minimize marketing myopia in your business.
Every year, thousands of products are launched, with a vast majority of them failing and never living to see the light of success. Levitt’s argument in his article was that companies sometimes take a narrow-minded approach to marketing, making only short-term goals and thinking about themselves and their products/services more than the needs and wants of their consumers.
This results in companies failing to adapt to the market and it causes them to always play catch-up with the trends of the market. Instead, companies should clearly define their products by catering to the target audience and addressing their wants and needs rather than their own. Companies need to have a clear vision by being customer-oriented, always prioritizing the demands of the market above everything else.
Theodore Levitt’s Marketing Myopia primarily uses the petroleum industry to describe the problems of nearsightedness in marketing. We will touch upon this particular case in an example in this article but we will also provide other examples from other industries to show more instances of shortsightedness in marketing by companies that have failed to adapt.
We will look at various causes of marketing myopia below and give various examples to demonstrate how they can be very detrimental to any business.
CAUSES OF MARKETING MYOPIA
There are plenty of reasons for companies to focus on the shortsighted nature of selling and experience its negative effects, rather than look at the longsighted nature of marketing. Suffering from this phenomenon is usually indicative of poor management. Good management will generally not look at things in short-term gains but instead look toward the long-term benefits. We will talk about this later.
For now, let’s have a look at some of the causes of shortsighted marketing.
Companies assume they are in a Growth Industry
What is a growth industry? Let’s look at some definitions of this term before we scrutinize and dissect it.
“A growth industry is an expanding sector of an economy, or one growing much faster in comparison to the overall economy. It is also called a sunrise industry. It is the opposite of a mature industry.” – Business Dictionary
“A growth industry is the sector of the economy experiencing a higher-than-normal growth rate. Growth industries are often associated with new or pioneer industries that did not exist in the past and their growth is related to the consumer demand for new product or services offered by firms within the same industry.” – Investopedia
In essence, a business is doing extremely well in the economy and growing rapidly because it is doing something revolutionary or is pioneering the future can be considered to be in a growth industry. Well, at least the company thinks so. With the following example, you will clearly see why companies who assume that their product or service is the be-all and end-all of solutions usually shoot themselves in the foot.
Example – Dry Cleaning
While it may be hard to believe this in the year 2016, the dry cleaning business was actually once considered to be a growth industry with lavish prospects. In the mid-20th century, where most people wore garments made of wool, it was a wonderful and pleasant feeling of getting your garments safely and easily cleaned. At the time, it was really a lifesaver. Yet here we are in the 21st century and nobody is really talking about the dry cleaning industry. Why is that? Was there a better way of cleaning?
Well, yes and no. The decline in dry cleaning came from the fact that clothes were now being made with alternative materials, such as cotton and polyester. Not many people wear suits made from wool anymore; many now wear t-shirts and clothes made from synthetic fibers or cotton, making them much easier to wash with water. Laundry has become very common nowadays and is much cheaper with a wider application range.
Did the dry cleaning companies fail to see the trend of clothing? Did they fail by concentrating solely on cleaning wool garments? They were very shortsighted in their cleaning approach, only targeting wool garments but not aiming for cleaning all clothes. They did not adapt to the market and create laundries for customers to wash their non-wool clothes. Dry cleaners were soon challenged by laundries all over the world and these laundries have now taken over the garments cleaning industry.
The Truth of Growth Industries
Levitt famously said, “The reality of the matter is that there is no such thing as a growth industry. There are only companies organized and operated to create and capitalize on growth opportunities.”
Many industries assume that they are on a sort of growth escalator but they always end up falling from their high seat. When you look at the history and statistics or every dying growth industry, there is a self-deceiving cycle of bountiful expansion and undetected decay.
Companies believe there are no Competitive Substitutes
Many companies ride their early success, never imagining how rapidly their business will grow in a short span of time. This is very apparent in the railroad industry in the early 20th century. The following example will illustrate how companies that fail to define their business and neglect the possibility of substitutes are ultimately caught off guard.
Example – Railroads and Trains
The railroad lines are a classic case study presented by Levitt himself. The companies that were manufacturing trains fell into a steep decline because they thought they were in the rail business, but failed to realize they were actually in the transportation business. They were transporting people and freight across the country. Trains were a means of getting from point A to point B. In the early 20th century, it was the most reliable and viable option. However, there were alternative means of transportation being offered by other companies, such as cars and trucks.
Many railroad companies specifically branded their companies as being the best train manufacturers and kept on improving the speed and quality of their trains. Instead of branching out into other modes of transportation, such as cars, trucks, and airplanes, they allowed themselves to be superseded by other companies who were progressive thinking and provided more advanced means of transportation. By the mid-20th century, airplanes became more commonplace and nowadays, it is the preferred mode of travel if you want to journey very long distances in a short amount of time.
Had the railroad companies adapted to the advancement in technology in transportation, they would have entered the vehicle market or the airplane market. Alas, they did not. We are not saying that the train industry is a dying one. It is perhaps not as popular or thriving as the plane industry or the automobile industry, but it is still alive and kicking. However, we would like to point out that those companies had the chance to combat the competitors by entering those markets, too.
Diversifying your operations may not seem intuitive all the time, but it keeps you current and makes your company relevant on all grounds. This is a classic case describing that you either must adapt to the times by satisfying your customers or get cast to the wayside by your competitors.
Failure to Consider the Requirements of the Consumer
Oftentimes, companies put a ton of effort, time, and money into their own products without considering the needs and desires of their consumers. Levitt said that instead of being business-centered, organizations should always be customer-oriented in order to win in the long run and survive in the market.
Rather than saying, “We are making the best kind of product on the market so it will surely appeal to consumers,” you should be asking yourself, “How can we address the problems of our consumers?” Looking outward instead of inward is save you from being shortsighted by your own ambitions. For any business, it should be clear that the end consumers are always the most important assets and you must cater to what they want in order to stay relevant.
Let’s look at an example of how a once famous company known for manufacturing mobile phones was quickly superseded by competitors.
Example – Nokia’s Fall from Grace
Not too long ago, back in the early 2000s, if you had asked people what phones they were using, they would have almost invariably said Nokia. Nokia, the Finnish mobile phone manufacturer, was the market share leader in their industry, releasing a variety of models every year, coming in various shapes and sizes. They made phones that allowed you to make phone calls, send texts, and even listen to music on the go. They introduced color displays, too. All of that sounds quite good, right? You would think that nothing could go wrong, but you thought wrong.
In January 2007, Steve Jobs announced the iPhone, the first smartphone from Apple. It garnered plenty of media attention and hype because it was touted to be “a computer in your pocket, a smart device in the palm of your hands.” Initially, nobody thought they wanted a computer in their pockets. You cannot blame them really. Computers just a decade ago were quite bulky.
However, the promise of integration and simplicity is what people loved about the idea of a smartphone. Later that year, the iPhone was officially launched and as we all know, the rest is history. Apple took the mobile phone market by storm and many companies were already releasing their smartphones at around the same time. Companies like Samsung and Sony come to mind. Now there are other major Chinese smartphone manufacturers, such as HTC and One Plus, which are growing in popularity. However, there is one name missing – Nokia.
Nokia failed to address the problems that users were experiencing with their phones. Many reported that the software was very sluggish and the keypads were difficult to type on. Nokia had long ignored these issues and continued rolling out phones year in and year out. Granted, they were doing well for a number of years but ever since the later part of the last decade, they have not enjoyed anywhere near the same level of success. They failed to adopt Android, a modern and sleek operating system by Google, or even create their own to compete with Apple’s iOS.
For a long time now, Nokia has been chasing the pack up ahead, still trying to find out how to get on the good side of consumers.
Focusing more on Products and not on Customers
The biggest problem plaguing companies is focusing entirely on mass production. A company will presume that since they have been performing so well, they can simply manufacture a large volume of products without tailoring them to the needs of the consumers. There is a lesson to be learnt here – always solve problems first, then go for mass production.
According to the theory of mass production, you will be able to drive the unit cost down by producing more units. While that may be true, that is only fruitful if you can actually sell what you are producing. Imagine having a large inventory of products that you believe are exceptional and you fully believe that people will love them when they see it. You have totally neglected marketing and put too much attention on production.
Marketing is one of the key pillars of success for any company. If you fail to see the bigger picture (how am I actually helping my customers with my products and/or services?), then you will simply make a large volume of goods that serve no purpose to the end consumers. Mass production promotes selling, but it does not look at the more important aspect of marketing.
We have stated this before, and we cannot stress enough how important it is to know the difference between selling and marketing. This is the key difference a subpar company and a very successful one. Many companies fall under the illusion that their needs are more important than those of the consumers. That is exactly why those companies fail. If you look at all the successful tech companies, like Google, Facebook, and Samsung, they strive to put the needs of the customer first.
Let’s look at an example where mass production has utterly failed.
Example – The Detroit Automobile Industry
In the very northern region of the United States of America lies a city famous for its automobile industry – Detroit, Michigan. The American automobile industry is famous because of several car manufacturers having plants in this city, e.g., Ford and Cadillac. We would argue that they are rather infamous for being the perpetrators of mass production.
These companies assumed that they had to pump out a certain number of cars every year and that a vast majority of them would sell. That was true for a time, until many cars were imported from overseas, namely Japan, and then consumers had more options on their hands.
American car manufacturers generally did not put too much effort on reducing fuel consumption. For them, the horsepower was very important and while they did have that edge over their competitors, many consumers did not care too much about that. American cars are known to be gas-guzzlers, burning a large amount of fuel. Consumers wanted to save money on fuel and they knew that the Japanese cars were much more fuel-efficient than the American ones. From an economic point of view, the customers naturally wanted to buy cars that saved them money on oil.
This perfectly demonstrates the failure of American companies in conducting market research prior to producing the goods. We will talk about market research in depth later in the article but we do want to note that many of these companies from Detroit made some very false assumptions.
They assumed their cars were selling well based on the sales volume and revenue. However, they never assessed it against their competitor’s sales revenue and volume back in their home country. This led to a major collapse in the automobile industry in Detroit that the city is still suffering from. On the other hand, Japan is thriving and flourishing in the automobile industry.
Failure to Consider Changing Consumer Lifestyle in the Digital Age
Another point to mention that catches many companies off guard is that they seem to fail to predict how the future will be. They fail to notice the changing consumer lifestyle in this digital age. They do not see the trends of the market, and this puts many companies in a precarious situation, thinking it would be safe to not worry so much about the future and focus only on the present situation of things.
This leaves many companies wide open for competitors to swoop in and steal your customers right from under your nose, all because you did not future-proof your brand.
Failure of management is evident when an organization fails to foresee where the market will head in 10 years. 10 years is actually too long. Some companies cannot predict where the market will be headed even after 5 years! In today’s landscape, you need to be able to determine where the market is going in just 2 years! Trust us when we say that the market can be very erratic. You need to have a handle on what will happen just a couple of years later.
Here is an example highlighting a company failing to consider the change in consumer lifestyle.
Example – The Death of the Sony Walkman
In the late 1990s, Sony released the CD Walkman, a portable music player that was an upgrade from the traditional cassette tape Walkman. In the 90s, CDs were gaining popularity and Sony wanted to double down on this invention and create a portable music player that could play CDs. They were already popular with cassette tapes, and now they were even appealing to people listening to music on CDs. Even in the early 2000s, Sony continued to sell Walkman. However, this is where a competitor came into the market and shook things up.
In the year 2001, Apple launched the iPod, a portable music player that housed digital music files on a tiny device. That was unheard of at the time. To be able to listen to music that exist as digital files on a tiny player without the need for physical media was a revolutionary concept.
Everybody knew how to rip music from a music CD, but there was no viable options of putting it on a portable device dedicated to playing music. Apple launched their product and Sony lost all of its momentum. Sony still had players relying on physical media, so their Walkman were large and bulky. On the other hand, the iPod was very small and lightweight, appealing to everybody.
This shows that Sony failed to see the trend of listening to music digitally instead of carrying around tapes and CDs. In the technology, it is more important than ever to foresee the shift in customer behavior. If you cannot predict how customers will use technology to perform activities, then you will never be able to create products and services that take advantage of those technologies. The Walkman is a good example of that.
The Myth of an Ever-Expanding Population
There is an age-old belief held by many industries that if the population continues to perpetually expand and becomes more affluent with the world economy improving, your market has naturally increased with more customers willing to pay. Companies have a false sense of security and do not worry much about the future if this assumption is indeed true.
The keyword here is ‘IF’. If consumers are multiplying and they are able to buy more of your goods, then you have almost nothing to worry about in the future. The view that the market does not shrink but keeps on expanding is prevalent in some industries.
According to Levitt, if a market continues to expand, then there is practically no responsibility on the side of an organization to innovate and improve their product or service. With an increasing population, there is the illusion of no problems, arising from an increasing market, which leads to a lack of thinking to enhance products.
Here is an example to show how falling for this trap can backfire and explode right in your face.
Example – Oil and Gas Companies
A very good example presented by Levitt to demonstrate the problem of relying on an increasing market size is considering oil and gas companies. These presumed to call themselves energy providers, providing non-renewable energy for people all over the world. While this was true for quite a number of years, there have been alternative sources of energy, such as nuclear energy, which are far more efficient. More importantly, there are renewable energy sources, like solar energy and wind energy, which are far more environmental friendly than their non-renewable counterpart.
Oil and gas companies continue to live off petroleum, and that will surely not last for long. Sure, the population is increasing and more people need energy but the raw material, petroleum, is diminishing every year. Studies have shown that based on the current rate of consumption and the amount of existing petroleum sources, we can live off oil and gas energy for about another century.
Not a long time at all. Many oil and gas companies simply focus their complete time, efforts, and money on refining the extraction process and finding ways of making it more efficient. That simply improves the product but it fails to address the bigger issue of diminishing raw materials and customers wanting to shift to renewable energy for health reasons.
Consumers are more aware of the damage caused by energy production from fossil fuels and want to use alternative, environmental friendly sources of energy. In addition to having their homes powered by solar and wind energy, people now want their cars to be running on electricity instead of fuel. We can see Tesla taking advantage of this and disrupting the automobile market with their electric cars. SolarCity, a partner company of Tesla, is planning to run houses entirely on solar energy.
Many oil and gas companies did not foresee the future of alternative, renewable energy sources and are now facing many issues. There are more people in this world and they are perhaps getting richer, but they do not want fossil fuel energy due to its harmful side effects.
If these companies fail to diversify their energy generation options, then they will fail to be in that industry. In fact, we can see it happening now in several European countries where they rely much more on renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind energy, than on traditional ones. The US has not yet fully adapted these alternative energy sources but very soon, it will. When it does, then two of the largest and most powerful markets will be unavailable to oil and gas companies. This is the consequence of being unwilling to change.
Excessive Dependence on Research and Development
When it comes to companies specifically in the high-tech sector, they tend to rely heavily on research and development to create new and innovate products for consumers. When it comes to technology and engineering, the name of the game is innovation. We agree that it is necessary for a tech company to invent new things if they want to thrive but it must be done with the right intentions and motives.
Many companies conduct a ton of research in labs and ask themselves, “What can we make that people will want to buy and use?” Instead, they should be asking themselves, “What do our customers want to buy and use?” These two questions are vastly different. The former is more concerned with what a company can do to make a superior product or the ‘next big thing’ whereas the latter is more concerned with finding out what consumers actually want. The former is product-oriented and the latter is customer-oriented. If there is one thing you take out of this entire report, your business must be customer-oriented to avoid experiencing marketing myopia.
If the top management of an organization includes many scientists and engineers, then they will most likely be in favor of dealing with controllable variables. Engineers love the defined nature of machines, production lines, and balance sheets. However, the market is not so well defined. Customers are very unpredictable, fickle, and varied, always changing their minds with what they really like and want. To this end, many engineers ignore this and focus only on the definite variables. We will see this in action in the upcoming example.
Electronics are the best way to demonstrate this particular problem of marketing myopia and we have a very good example for you.
Example – Google Glass
We all know Google, the world’s most popular search engine. It has become ubiquitous, with billions of people around the world using this search engine to find information online. Google is such a large and famous corporation that it has become a verb in our lexicon! “Google this. Google that.” You cannot say the same with other tech corporations on the planet; none of them are as successful as Google.
For over two decades, Google was renowned for being a search engine and in 2014, they wanted launch the Google Glass, a pair of high-tech eyeglasses that will serve as an optical head-mounted display. If you play video games, you will know that a heads-up display is a screen displaying various information of objects and people around you. Imagine having that in real life by wearing Google Glass.
Google was riding the success of its search engine and email service, Gmail, and attempted to continue that success with hardware instead of software. They were under the illusion that a product will sell itself because of the brand name associated with it. Because Google rose to prominence by creating a superior search engine in the past, they took the same approach with Google Glass, believing that their product is superior to everything else on the market. They heavily invested in research and development to create a pair of glasses that will serve as a computer right in front of your eyes. Google believed that continued product innovationwould result in continued growth.
This could not be further from the truth. After launching in 2014, Google Glass was met with mostly negative reviews from users and due to safety and privacy concerns. Moreover, not many people wanted to wear a pair of high-tech eyeglasses that gave them information by looking at objects or people. As revolutionary as the product was, it was not well received by consumers because they had no interest in it.
This is a classic example describing that just because something is very advanced and cutting-edge, it does not mean that it will sell well. Google Glass did not resonate with consumers because it failed to give them any actual utility. It was a good idea on Google’s part but that is all it was – a good idea. Google concentrated so much on selling this high-tech device that they overlooked the usefulness of it.
When companies invest more money on scientific research than on market research, then chances are they will fail to address the needs of the consumer. This was quite evident with the Google Glass.
STRATEGIES TO AVOID OR MINIMIZE MYOPIA
Now that you know about the major causes of companies falling into the trap of marketing myopia, you need to take precautionary measures to avoid them, or at the very least minimize its adverse effects. You do not want to take a shortsighted approach to marketing.
Marketing must always be a long-term plan that is not as superficial as selling. If you follow these strategies, your company will surely survive in the competitive market.
Have a Clear Vision
It takes far more than good intentions and promotional tricks to have a successful business. Those may be great selling tactics but they are not necessarily good marketing ones. In order to be a marketing-centric firm, a company needs to have its top management be very good leaders.
These leaders must make decisions with a clear vision in mind for the organization. At times, a company may have to sacrifice short-term gains in order to attain something great in the long run. Long-term gains is the name of the game and when a firm takes measures to define its business, then it can easily adapt to the requirements of the market.
In order to clearly predict the position of your company in the future, you have to do much more than simply survive; you must find a way to thrive. When leaders of a team have the drive and will to succeed and live and breathe success, then they can be called visionaries. Who are the visionaries of the modern era? Think of Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and even the late Steve Jobs.
Examples – Visionaries that make their Business Successful
ElonMusk is the CEO of Tesla Motors, an automobile and energy production company that manufactures electric cars and battery products. He envisions a world where everyone will drive electric cars and power their houses with electric batteries. He has a clear vision for his company and the future of the world.
Mark Zuckerberg is he CEO of Facebook, the world’s largest social networking site. He wants everyone on every corner of the globe to be interconnected by establishing connections as well as sharing stories and memories.
The late Steve Jobs was the CEO of Apple and he envisages a world where everybody will use technology to enrich their lives. With products like the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, he was responsible for making these products a household name all over the world.
While these examples of visionaries may be over-the-top in terms of their expectations and world-changing mindset, sometimes that is what it takes to be a successful company in this age. However, you can also be part of a small business and still make a difference in your local community. As long as your vision is clear, then you will know what to expect down the road and you will be able to achieve it.
Be Customer-oriented, not Product-oriented
We have emphasized this point several times throughout this article because we believe it is the most significant criteria of being a successful company in the future. You must be a customer-oriented, also known as market-oriented, company that creates products and services that the market wants to consume.
Focus on the needs of the consumer and you will naturally cast a wider net to appeal to a larger audience. Focus on the requirements of the product and you will quickly realize that your expectations of a great product may not meet the ever-changing demands of the market.
Here an example to help you see how marketing the same product in two different ways (customer-oriented vs. product-oriented) may result in varied results.
Example – Lotion
Nivea is a personal care brand that specializes in making skin and body care products, like creams and lotions. They are one of the largest producers of personal hygiene products in the world. They were able to get to their position by targeting the needs of their market rather than flaunting their products around aimlessly.
For instance, when you see advertisements or commercials for Nivea body lotion, you will see that they use words like “Great for oily skin”, “Made for dry skin”, or “This lotion makes your skin silky, smooth, and hydrated.” This is a good example of a company taking the marked-oriented approach by addressing the problems of people’s skin and giving them some solutions to counter it and make it better.
Had Nivea taken a more product-oriented approach, then they may have used words like “Our lotion is made with 100% natural ingredients”, or “This lotion uses coconut extracts.” While those are impressive features of a lotion, they fail to address the issues of consumers – “How do I make my skin feel smoother?”
Marketing is more important than Selling
The above example on lotion branding demonstrates the effectiveness of marketing your products aimed at the needs of customers versus selling your products based on its qualities. Yes, we do not deny that there are customers who buy products based primarily on its qualities and features. However, a vast majority of consumers for the most part purchase goods based on whether the products actually help them.
If a product or service does not provide any kind of utility or benefit to the end consumers, then odds are they will not buy it and your business will suffer from a tremendous loss. How can your business determine the needs of consumers prior to creating products or services? Well this is where market research comes into play.
Conduct comprehensive Market Research
In order to truly understand the things that people want, you need to ask them directly. Conducting surveys and sending customer feedback emails go a long way in acquiring a deeper insight into the mind of consumers. In this digital age, it has become common to ask questions via social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
Many companies even have their own blogs and forums where they ask customers and users questions like “What would you like to see us improve in our products and services?” When you are engaging with your target audience, it shows that you actually care about the market’s needs and wants much more than your own.
Take all of that feedback into consideration when creating your next product and use it as input to deliver a much better output tailored to the market. The market is very fickle so you need to conduct market research every year to see where the trend is going. There is a lot of investment involved in researching the market, but will likely result in large profits because you know what people want.
Rather than spending large amounts of money on R&D to design a product you think is excellent, consult with marketers to understand how you can create a product that people want.
Use the insights from the following presentation on understanding your customers.
Be aware of the Competition and use your Resources
One of the key lessons you should take away from all of the examples listed in this report is that in order to be a successful company for a long amount of time, you must be aware of your competition. Being complacent and resting on your laurels is a sure-fire way of being supplanted by another company that took the effort to be daring and innovative.
There are instances of several companies being the market leader for some period of time but because they were arrogant, they were replaced by another company. Some companies believe that what they are offering is the best because consumers are buying it by the bulk and will continue to do so for years and years. That is the biggest misconception that plagues many poor top management boards of many companies.
If you want to be a big player in your industry, then you need to make great efforts in knowing what your competitors are up to. Investigate your competitor’s successful marketing strategies and determine whom their products it was aimed at and why it worked so well. You can actually learn a lot from other companies who have been around the block a few times. Leverage their experience, the good ones and the bad ones, and modify it or create one from scratch that incorporates some of their marketing elements.
Granted, many organizations keep their corporate news and events under wraps, so you cannot rely solely on your competitors for some information. Fortunately, there are entire websites, blogs, and industry analyses devoted to tracking changes in the market. You should definitely exhaust all of these options to extract as much information as you can on the trends of the market.
Consulting experts regularly will keep you up-to-date on the requirements and expectations of consumers. Of course, all of this is forecasted data based on past data, so you may have to take it with a grain of salt. Though it is not conclusive evidence, the projected data generally shows a trend going in a particular direction. Sometimes you have to go with your gut instinct and make a move.
If you wait too long, then there is always the possibility that you will miss your window of opportunity. Before somebody else take it, you need to make your mark on your consumers.
Diversify your Business to Safeguard your Future
I am sure many have given you some life advice such as, “Do not bite off more than you can chew” or “Jack of all trades is the master of none.” Perhaps you took these to heart and played by these rules in your personal life. While they may work in your personal life, they have no place in the real world of competitive businesses and marketing.
If you look at several mega corporations, you will see that they are like conglomerates with various departments for producing a variety of goods. These businesses have become empires because they diversified their options.
Diversification is a great business idea that you should definitely consider if you want to avoid marketing myopia. When you evolve from your cocoon, you can spread your wings and realize that your business has so much more offer. Do not be so one-dimensional and linear; try to be three-dimensional by offering various products and services to consumers.
Here is an example of a company that decided to diversify their product range to take their company to the next level.
Example – Nike
In the mid-20th century, an American shoe manufacturer rose in prominence when they made track running shoes for athletes in the 1960 Summer Olympics. Their target audience were sports professionals and athletes who needed shoes for their sports. They started with running shoes but soon created cleats and basketball shoes for football and basketball, respectively. They eventually started to face stiff competition from Adidas, a major European shoe manufacturer. Nike could have eithercontinued to design only shoes or diversify their business. They chose the latter and they have reaped the benefits since then.
Nike started to manufacture sports apparel (like jerseys, shorts, and t-shirts), as well as sports equipment to appeal to a broader audience with a much wider range of products and accessories. Adidas followed suit but it was a tad bit late as they have always played second fiddle to Nike. Nike has been the market leader in sports apparel and gear for several years now, holding a sizeable market lead over its competitors.
This example shows that when you diversify your products and understand what industry you are in, then you will not be shortsighted by your competitors and fall victim. Nike realized that they were much more than a shoe manufacturer; Nike realized they were a sports gear manufacturer. Diversification leads to market expansion, thereby preventing marketing myopia. Nike learned to evolve and they are still evolving to this day. The adapted to meet customers’ needs.
A form of innovation that has proven to work wonders in the world of marketing is disruptive innovation. Many established corporations sell their products and services at a high price to their consumer base who have been loyal to them for quite some time. However, there are many who cannot afford to pay such a large sum of money for something they need. They look for cheaper alternatives that provide them the same utility at a much lower cost. This is where a startup company can step in and establish their presence that will last a very long time.
Many startups or small businesses offer products or services so innovative and groundbreaking that they create a new market by disrupting the current existing marketing. They evaluate what the technological trend is and observe what customers want and come up with a product that is unlike anything else their competitors are offering. It is a huge gamble because you have almost no reference point but being a trendsetter and the “first of a kind” in the industry can work wonders for you.
Your vision can lie solely in how your consumers will benefit immensely from using your product. We have stated before that it is better to be customer-oriented than product-oriented to avoid marketing myopia. However, disruptive innovation is the fusion of the two and creates dynamic products that actually address the problems of consumers.
Let’s look at an example of how disruptive innovation can work in your favor.
Example – Digital Music Downloads
Up until the middle of the last decade, many music aficionados would buy music CDs or tapes when they wanted to listen to their favorite music. They would then rip the music from the disks, store it on their computer, and listen to them. This presented a major problem. They still needed to buy physical media to listen to music. With the world becoming digital, there had to be a way to buy music digitally. This is where Apple stepped in with an ingenious idea of a digital music store called the iTunes Store, where people can purchase music at the price of $1 per song.
This totally disrupted the market because record labels and music studios at the time were only used to releasing physical media when it came to music. The iTunes Store came in and gave people an alternative they were looking for at a very low price in comparison to the CDs. Not too long after that, Spotify joined in on the action with its music store app.
Spotify has the added benefit that you could listen to music for free! This disrupted the competition even further because until Spotify, there were only paid options to download music legally. Now, an app was letting people listen to music free of charge! Spotify made physical media irrelevant when it came to music. For the past few years, it has reigned supreme as the number 1 choice from which music lovers listen to songs.
This is a good example of how a disruptive innovative product or service can totally change the landscape of an industry. As you may notice, there are fewer music CDs at stores these days because most people are buying their music online or listening to it free of cost.
Spotify and iTunes had a common vision – To see a world where digital media is commonplace. They made that dream come true.
For a company to experience continuous growth in today’s ever-changing landscape of business, it must concentrate on satisfying customers’ needs rather than selling products. Organizations must attempt to continually adapt to best meet customer needs in order to compete in a new industry. By being customer-oriented, an organization will naturally experience an increase in sales volume and revenue. Being shortsighted is detrimental in marketing. You must always think long-term and play for the end game to be successful.
We have listed quite a few examples from Apple in this article. There is a good reason for this. If you look at all of their products, you will see that they are not necessarily the best products on the market. Nevertheless, they sell very well. Why is that? It is because they are marketed very well. Apple’s marketing team is one of the best in the business, especially in the electronics and high-tech industry. You can learn a lot from their marketing campaigns and strategies.
We would like to leave you with an important quote from Theodore Levitt’s Marketing Myopia that succinctly states what your business should do to avoid myopia –
“Organizations must learn to think of themselves not as producing goods or services but as buying customers, as doing the things that will make people want to do business with it.”
If you meet human needs, then you will always evolve and improve with a long-term goal of satisfying customers and not just selling things.
Dear fellow entrepreneurs and readers of Entrepreneurial Insights / Cleverism! In autumn of 2014 …