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The library of essays of Proakatemia

Marketing myopia (with case studies)

Kirjoittanut: Hassan Chakir - tiimistä SYNTRE.

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When Theodore Levitt’s essay in the Harvard Business Review in 2004 introduced the notion of marketing myopia, it altered how CEOs of big corporations thought their approach to the market as well as their growth and scaling plans.

The word was deciphered and defined by Wikipedia as “Marketing myopia argues that organisations would do better in the long run if they focus on addressing consumers’ wants rather than selling items.”

Okay, that’s a relatively simple concept, but is it straightforward? Instead of building an outstanding knockout product that you can sell, focus on what the consumer wants from you and your firm will thrive. Isn’t that going a bit too far with the “customer is always right” concept?

Let’s break down the problem and analyse where marketing myopia applies to better position the consumer from a broader economic standpoint.

Marketing myopia is an issue that arises as a result of a company’s expansion. Levitt (2004) begins by stating that any firm or industry will develop based on the excellence of its product, but that this creates conditions conducive to mismanagement.

According to Levitt, selling should not take precedence over marketing because selling focuses on the needs of the seller while marketing focuses on the needs of the buyer. The history of every dead and dying ‘development’ industry reveals a self-deceiving cycle of bountiful expansion and undetected decay.

Again, I believe this is quite apparent. Levitt is essentially stating that even if your firm is expanding, don’t forget to provide your customers what they want. That is the gist of a revolutionary idea that initiated an entire paradigm shift for CEOs entering the twenty-first century.

Case Studies

obviously, the theory is useless unless we have some fantastic instances of terrible failures in the shape of firms and company leaders that rejected the concept of marketing myopia in favour of the opposite: product optimization.


In a nutshell, Kodak was so consumed with refining its film goods that it overlooked the R&D it had invested in digital technologies and the digital technology tsunami as it happened.

It’s a famous example that many marketers use to emphasise the necessity of understanding your consumer. In the case of Kodak, this lack of understanding or information caused the company to decline from being one of the most popular companies for making images, films, and the like to being an afterthought.

In his report on the subject, Scott Anthony at the Harvard Business Review puts it well, “An easy explanation is myopia. Kodak was so blinded by its success that it completely missed the rise of digital technologies. But that doesn’t square with reality. After all, the first prototype of a digital camera was created in 1975 by Steve Sasson, an engineer working for… Kodak.”

The irony is overpowering. Kodak actually possessed the technology for the digital revolution but slid off a financial cliff onto the jagged rocks of insolvency below.


Same story here, folks: Nokia has lost a significant portion of its market share owing to Android and iOS smartphones. Alexandra Chang’s 2012 post clearly describes the market change behind Nokia’s great collapse, “With its full touchscreen and app-based operating system, the iPhone changed the very definition of what a smartphone should be. Yet Nokia failed to respond to the iPhone and the shifting consumer demand that came with it.”

Nokia was truly in trouble when the iPhone’s touchscreen debuted and charmed users with never-before-seen technology. The unshakable Nokia became a brand of the past in one fell swoop. There was no response from Nokia, and no new invention. The corporation was just taken by surprise.

It is critical to recognise that in all of these cases, these companies (Kodak and Nokia) lost because of their stubbornness to stick to an existing business model, their lack of foresight, or their inability to accurately judge the needs of their customers over time and to conduct accurate research on their competitors’ moves.




Levitt, T. 2004. Marketing myopia, Harvard business review. Read 26.11.2022.

Link: https://hbr.org/2004/07/marketing-myopia


Anthony, S. 2016. Kodak’s Downfall Wasn’t About Technology, Harvard business review. Read 26.11.2022.

Link: https://hbr.org/2016/07/kodaks-downfall-wasnt-about-technology


Chang, A. 2012. 5 Reasons Why Nokia Lost Its Handset Sales Lead and Got Downgraded to ‘Junk’. Wired. Read 26.11.2022.

Link: https://www.wired.com/2012/04/5-reasons-why-nokia-lost-its-handset-sales-lead-and-got-downgraded-to-junk

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