2 minutes to read.
Marketing myopia is a Harvard term created by Theodore Levitt to explain why certain successful companies eventually fail. Myopia is a smart way of saying short-sightedness, or out of focus.
Any institution or entity is suffering from marketing myopia if they misunderstand the market they are in.
For instance, a gym owner may assume she is in the ‘fitness industry’. This may be true, but in a larger sense the gym owner is really in the health and wellness industry. This industry is wider than just ‘fitness’ and offers more opportunities for all people involved.
Examples of real time marketing myopia in Ireland are:
- Traditional media companies in Ireland think they are in the newspaper business or TV business, but they are actually in the content creation business. There are many different ways of generating content through non-traditional means which are becoming popular with younger people. Younger people are also generating content. The company that can harness this will win. Traditional companies and the people within them often fail to understand this and cannot get past their old ways of generating revenue.
- Political parties think they are in the business of gaining maintaining power. They are actually in the business of ensuring the public service delivers efficient, cost-effective and well-respected public services to the public. They assume they are in the business of power. They forget they are in the business of spending hard-earned taxable pay-checks.This is a serious form of marketing myopia and creates major problems, such as the 00's housing bubble.
- The Catholic Church forgot they were in the business of offering spiritual replenishment to people who identified themselves as practicing Catholics. As an institution, the Catholic Church focused on consolidating power which resulted in indescribable abuse sustained over long periods of time against other human beings. This has created a vacuum in Irish spiritual life as Catholics (90% of the population) continue to move away from the church and indeed any form of spirituality.
Examples of companies getting it right include:
- Ryanair: Now understand they are in the customer-focused travel business. Not the screw ‘em for everything they are worth business.
- Leinster Rugby: Understand they are in the entertainment business, not just the rugby business. Season ticket holdings have grown exponentially since the 00's.
- The GAA: Their deal with SKY, the success of GAA GO and the evolution of the club game globally show that the Association understand they are in the business of providing games to people who want to play and enjoy good sport. Previously the organisation may have only focused in more narrow terms on games development within Ireland.
Levitt’s concept is applicable everywhere. Society’s problems are created not from a deliberate set of plans, but from a misunderstanding of what our institutions are, who do they serve and why. We can transform our society into a better place to live if we can transform our thinking. We can transform our thinking by looking at problems in a different way.
Good thinking, good solutions. But we have to want it.