Levitt's primary focus is on the need for business organizations to evolve as a strategy of overcoming challenges that are associated with change. He postulates that for industries to sustain their businesses, they must focus on producing goods or offering services that satisfy the needs of the customers. The customer-centric remodeling of businesses ensures that continuity is sustained amidst competition; the type and design of products that companies offer must target the needs of customers rather than the business profits (Levitt 1-4).
Strategies for overcoming marketing myopia, as propounded by Levitt, have made a significant contribution to successful management of businesses in the environment of technological explosion witnessed in the second the half of the 20th century. According to Kanagasabai (291), technological advancements and increased competition has prompted business institutions to get out of their business comfort in response to alternatives that have become more and more available to consumers. Notably, Levitt (3-10) scathes complacency, lack of vision, and profit-oriented management styles as the major causes of business decline in some industries. The ideas espoused in the article made a huge impact on executives management styles because they have worked for many years in sustaining businesses under stiff competition caused by the technological explosion.
Abundant literature exists on what constitutes market orientation. Kanagasabai (291) defines market orientation as the continuous generation of market intelligence on the present and future customer needs, dissemination of the intelligence to the relevant departments, and responding to such intelligence with the sole intention of creating higher value for the customers. The practice is based on the marketing philosophy that consumer tastes and preferences change, requiring firms to innovate to keep the pace with the changes. Levitts thesis is consistent with market orientation as it offers a succinct discussion of the failures of various institutions to conduct research that is geared towards the production of goods that meet present and possible future customer needs. He cites the dwindling fortunes of auto makers on Detroit as a failure to read change of customer tastes ahead of the competition.
Levitt (8-9) defines marketing myopia as the practice of carrying out the marketing function as a consequence of the product rather than the consequence of the customer. Essentially, myopic marketers tend to focus on the methods that enable them exchange products for cash instead of paying attention to the product features that ensure consistent and continuous consumption amidst alternatives .Equally, the product design must be done based on customer feedback. As noted in the preceding discussion, myopic marketing is characterized by over-emphasis on selling of its products. Levitt (8-9) notes that companies focus on the function of selling because it offers better prospects of profits especially during the expansion phase of the industry. Often, millions of dollars are invested in the movement of goods to the consumers.
Mass production of goods is also a prominent feature of myopic marketing. The lure of profits the emphasizes the prodigious production so as to meet the projected demand (Levitt 9).These institutions operate on the notion that the ready availability of goods to a wide of a population translates to more consumption. As a result, more efforts are directed to the production of same-old goods as a consequence of the desire for more profits.
Moreover, complacency creates an environment for marketing myopia. According to Levitt (5-9), the lack of imagination and wrongheadedness make business leaders fail to recognize the need to engage the customer in the design and development of products. Invariably, top management find consolation in the present robust performance of their companies and, thus, fail to acknowledge the threat of new entrants. As Levitt (6-7) explains, complacency is the product of the idea that well-established industries are indispensable. As a result, little attention to is given to the threat of obsolesce and competition. For instance, emphasis on clean energy has reduced the demand for oil, and as a consequence, the United States and Canada have made heavy investment in the production of shale gas to challenge the complacency of oil-producing giants. Such trends dismantle the idea that a particular industry is indispensable.
Incorrect definition of the rationale for the existence has also been cited as a cause for marketing myopia. According to Levitt (1-3), most business organizations operate on the premise that their sole business is to supply goods to the market; the responsibility of delivering value-satisfying products does not receive attention as much. This strategy does not allow management to identify the expectations of customers early enough so as to design products that meet their tastes and preferences of customers. The population expansion myth reinforces this business operation model. The myth puts pressure on production but pays stepchild attention to customer retention strategies (Levitt 5-7).The strategy is not sustainable in a competitive business environment.
Levitts proposition remains relevant to the management of business today. Most companies spend colossal sums of money in studying the behaviors of the consumer as a strategy of predicting future consumption trends. For instance, the findings of the market surveys enable them to design products that satisfy customer needs. Levitt (1-3) posts that the consumer is an unpredictable being. The dynamism in consumption requires constant innovation to meet the new tastes and preferences. The mobile telephony, banking, and automobiles industries have perfected the postulations of Levitt. However, adoption of only customer-centric business models can lead to disastrous outcomes in the current globalized society. Smith et al. (4-11) argue that the single-minded focus on the customer, narrow definition of the customer and the changed context of business present several challenges to the sustainability of Levitts propositions. According to Smith et al., the narrow definition of the customer as a consumer has resulted in a new marketing myopia where policy makers only consider customer factors. The customer must be defined as a citizen, a parent, a member of a community, an employee, and a member of the global community (Jocz and Quelch 202-206).As such, the sustainability of businesses depends on the ability satisfy the interests of all stakeholders, including the customer, the government, the local communities, the environment, the global community and the future generations. Corporate social responsibility is some of the new marketing strategies that modern businesses employ to sustain their operations.
As evidenced in the discussion brief, market-oriented organizations tend to base the design of their products on customer needs and wants whereas product-oriented marketing entails development of products that offer higher value than those of competitors. This is done with the anticipation that customers would prefer products with higher-value features. The two concepts fit into Levitts Marketing Myopia in the sense that market-oriented firms comply with Levitts prescriptions while product-oriented companies fall in the category of businesses that Levitt criticizes for living on the idea of indispensability.
Marketing Myopia and the Demise of Kodak Kodachrome and Nokia Brands
Technological advancement has been cited as one of the causes for the collapse of many industries (Kanagasabai 291-92).However, marketing myopia can be considered as the cause for the fall of Kodak and Nokia. In the article Kodak Failed By Asking The Wrong Marketing Question, Dan (Forbes, 2012), argues that the failure of Kodak was as a result of internal frailties built by complacency. According to Dan, Kodaks failed because it was obsessed with product-orientation rather than focusing on the customer needs. Its success for 40 years bred complacency which underestimated the digital age, yet it had digital capabilities to respond to the changing customer needs. As Levitt (5-6) cautions, no product is impermeable against obsolesce no matter the number of years it has been in the market. Similarly, the collapse of Nokia relates to the issues identified in Levitts thesis. According to Lee (Sep 3 2013, BBC News), Nokia collapsed because of complacency that emanated from its decade dominance of mobile telephony business. The top management was rigid to the technological demands of the market. As a result, it allowed companies such as Apple Inc. to emerge and thrive.
Marketing Myopia: the case of Google Inc.
The proliferation of smartphones has had a considerable impact on Googles dominance in digital ads. According to Marvin (n.p), the companys search and display business continue to face competition from the in-stream ads aided by the mobile devices. Currently, Marvin notes, most search ads take place on cell phones. As such, social networking companies have taken advantage of the speed and convenience of display that mobile devices offer to increase their stakes in search and display business. Yet Google pioneered native with its search ads. Apps can be expected to play a significant part in searches as social media companies continue to develop innovations that meet the ever-evolving customer needs. Marvin recommends that Google should innovate to reduce app search traffic as a strategy of creating enhanced convenience and speed. Since Google Play, Google Maps, and Gmail rank among the top apps, Google can also leverage on this position to sustain its search and display business.
Dan, Avi. "Kodak Failed By Asking The Wrong Marketing Question." Forbes, 2012.
Jocz, Katherine E., and John A. Quelch. "An Exploration of Marketing's Impacts on Society: A Perspective Linked to Democracy." Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, vol. 27, no. 2, 2008, pp. 202-206.
Kanagasabai, Kajendra. "Market orientation and Company Performance:A study of Selected Japanese and Sri Lankan Companies." vol. 44, no. 4, 2008, pp. 291-308.
Levitt, Theodore. "Marketing Myopia." Harvard Business Review, 1960, pp. 1-15, www.hbr.org.
Marvin, Ginny. "7 Challenges Facing Google With The Rise Of Native Mobile Advertising." Marketing Land, 2014.
"Nokia: The rise and fall of a mobile giant." written by Dave Lee, British Broadcasting Corporation, 3 Sept. 2013.
Smith, N. C., et al. "The New Marketing Myopia." Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, vol. 29, no. 1, 2010, pp. 4-11.
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