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Industrial attractiveness and industrial success factors: Industrial attractiveness is the presence or absence of threats exhibited by each of the industrial forces. "The greater the threat posed by an industrial force, the less attractive the industrial becomes." Small businesses, in particular, should attempt to seek out markets in which the threats are low and the attractiveness is high. Understanding what industrial forces are at work enables small business owners to develop strategies to deal with them. These strategies, in turn, can help small businesses to find unique ways to satisfy their customers in order to develop a competitive advantage over industrial rivals. Success factors are those elements that determine whether a company succeeds or fails in a given industrial. They vary greatly by industries. Some examples of possible success factors include quick response to market changes, a complete product line, fair prices, excellent product quality or performance, knowledgeable sales support, a good record for deliveries, solid financial standing, or a strong management team. The reason for identifying success factors is that it will help lead you to areas where you can establish competitive advantages. The first step is to determine whether or not the company possesses each success factor identified. Then the small business owner can decide whether the company can and should develop additional success factors.
Industrial analysis or assessment is a tool that facilitates a company's understanding of its position relative to other companies that produce similar products or services. Understanding the forces at work in the overall industries is an important component of effective strategic planning. An industrial assessment is a business function completed by business owners and other individuals to assess the current business environment. This assessment helps businesses understand various economic pieces of the marketplace and how these various pieces may be used to gain a competitive advantage.
Industrial assessment enables small business owners to identify the threats and opportunities facing their businesses, and to focus their resources on developing unique capabilities that could lead to a competitive advantage. "Many small business owners and executives consider themselves at worst victims, and at best observers of what goes on in their industries. They sometimes fail to perceive that understanding your industry directly impacts your ability to succeed. Understanding your future industrial trends and directions gives you the knowledge you need to react and control your portion of that industry," Kenneth J. Cook wrote in his book The AMA Complete Guide to Strategic Planning for Small Business. "However, your assessment of this is significant only in a relative sense. Since both you and your competitors are in the same type of industries, the key is in finding the differing abilities between you and the competition in dealing with the industrial forces that impact you. If you can identify abilities you have that are superior to competitors, you can use that ability to establish a competitive advantage." An industrial assessment consists of three major elements: the underlying forces at work in the industries; the overall attractiveness of the industrial; and the critical factors that determine a company's success within the industries. One way in which to compare a particular business with the average of all participants in the industries is through the use of ratio assessment and comparisons. Ratios are calculated by dividing one measurable business factor by another, total sales divided by number of employees, for example.
By comparing a particular ratio for one company with that of the industries as a whole, a business owner can learn much about where her business stands in comparison with the industrial average. For example, a small nursing home business can compare its "payroll per employee" ratio with the average for all residential care operators in the U.S. in order to determine if it is within a competitive range. If her business's "payroll per employee" figure is higher than the industrial average, she may wish to investigate further. Checking the "employees per establishment" ratio would be a logical place to look next. If this ratio is lower than the industrial average it may justifying the higher per-employee payroll figure. This sort of comparative assessment is one important way in which to assess how one's business compares with all others involved in the same line of work. There are various sources for the industrial average ratios, among them is the industrial assessment series published by Thomson Gale as the USA series. Another premier model for analyzing the structure of industries was developed by Michael E. Porter in his classic 1980 book Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors. Porter's model shows that rivalry among firms in industries depends upon five forces: 1) the potential for new competitors to enter the market; 2) the bargaining power of buyers; 3) the bargaining power of suppliers; 4) the availability of substitute goods; and 5) the competitors and nature of competition.
Purpose: Industrial assessment is important because it allows business owners to estimate how much profit they can generate from business operations. Business owners rarely enter industries at the plateau stage or those which have begun an economic decline. Industries under these conditions do not usually generate enough profits for new business ventures. Business owners also assess the number of competitors currently selling consumer goods or services in their industries. High levels of competition often create lower than desired profits. Benefits: Conducting a very detailed and intense industrial assessment can provide business owners with specific knowledge regarding the economic marketplace. Business owners may discover a market niche not currently being met by other companies. Business owners can also conduct consumer surveys to learn about new goods or services that could have high demand in the marketplace. This information can provide new business owners with a significant benefit over existing companies in a business. Warning: Industrial assessment does not guarantee success in the business environment. Business owners can misinterpret information or make incorrect judgments on the best way to pursue profits with a new business venture. Spending too much time on industrial assessment can also subject the business owner to paralysis of assessment. This theory states that individuals who collect too much information may be unable to make a business decision. Additionally, more time is spent doing the assessment phase than making a decision.
Although business owners may conduct an industrial assessment according to their specific needs, a few basic standards exist for conducting this important business function. Facts: Small business owners often conduct industrial assessment before starting their business. This assessment is included in the entrepreneur’s business plan that outlines specific elements of the economic marketplace. Elements may include the number of competitors, availability of substitute goods, target markets and demographic groups or various other pieces of essential business information. This information is commonly used to secure external financing from banks or lenders for starting a new business venture. Features: Industrial assessment features include a review of the economic and political underpinnings of the business environment. Economic reviews often include an examination of the industries business cycle. The business cycle helps individuals understand if the industrial is growing, reaching a plateau or in decline. A political review helps individuals understand the amount of government regulation and taxation present in the business industrial. Industries with heavy government involvement may have fewer profits for companies operating in these environments.
Why is industrial assessment important? Small business owners often spend a large chuck of time planning their company’s operations. A majority of that time is spent planning initial operations and expected financial returns. Once the business is open and running, business owners continue the planning process to ensure their venture remains profitable. Industrial assessment is an important part of small business planning. This assessment often looks at the external factors that will affect the company’s operations. Function: Industrial assessment involves reviewing information on current economic market conditions. Industries studied can include retail, fast food, manufacturing, various repair services and construction. The type and number of business industries analyzed depends on the local economic market. Markets with large groups of consumers or several demographic groups often have more business industries than smaller economic markets. Free market economies are built on the concept of supply and demand. Markets with high consumer demand often have more companies in particular industries. Types: Business owners can conduct an industrial assessment in one of two ways: quantitative or qualitative. Quantitative assessment uses mathematical forecasting techniques to analyze specific pieces of industries information. Decision trees, game theory or other forecasting methods are commonly used in the industrial assessment. Qualitative assessment involves business owners reviewing industrial information and making personal judgments or inferences from the information. Business owners with particular experience or expertise in an industrial often use qualitative assessment as they are already familiar with particular industries. A comprehensive industrial assessment requires a small business owner to take an objective view of the underlying forces, attractiveness, and success factors that determine the structure of the industrial. Understanding the company's operating environment in this way can help the small business owner to formulate an effective strategy, position the company for success, and make the most efficient use of the limited resources of the small business. "Once the forces affecting competition in an industrial and their underlying causes have been diagnosed, the firm is in a position to identify its strengths and weaknesses relative to the industrial," Porter wrote. "An effective competitive strategy takes offensive or defensive action in order to create a defendable position against the five competitive forces." Some of the possible strategies include positioning the firm to use its unique capabilities as defense, influencing the balance of outside forces in the firm's favor, or anticipating shifts in the underlying industrial factors and adapting before competitors do in order to gain a competitive advantage.
Considerations: Industrial assessment may be conducted using Michael Porter’s five forces model. Porter is a Harvard professor renowned for his work in creating a specialized industrial assessment model. The five forces model reviews an industries supplier power, threat of substitutes, buyer power, barriers to entry and the rivalry that is created when companies compete for the previous four forces. This standard industrial assessment tool helps individuals use a time-tested management procedure for generating intelligent business assessment. Time Frame: Business owners may need to conduct several industrial analyses throughout their company’s lifetime. Economic markets are in a constant state of flux and may incur significant changes from shifts in political policy. Although smaller businesses may struggle to conduct an industrial assessment in a timely manner, larger or publicly held companies often conduct an assessment each quarter. The results of their assessment are often included in forward-looking statements in quarterly or annual reports. Expert Insight: Small business owners may need to seek outside help for conducting an industrial assessment. Management consultants, public accounting firms or the Small Business Administration (SBA) may provide small businesses with copious amounts of resources regarding various industrial analyses. This information can save the business owner valuable time from attempting to reinvent the wheel and create a new assessment when one may already exist from a professional organization.
Industrial assessment also known as Porter’s Five Forces Assessment is a very useful tool for business strategists. It is based on the observation that profit margins vary between industries, which can be explained by the structure of industries. The Five Forces primary purpose is to determine the attractiveness of industries. However, the assessment also provides a starting point for formulating strategy and understanding the competitive landscape in which a company operates. The framework for the Five Forces Assessment consists of these competitive forces: 1) Industrial rivalry (degree of competition among existing firms)--intense competition leads to reduced profit potential for companies in the same industries; 2) Threat of substitutes (products or services)--availability of substitute products will limit your ability to raise prices; 3) Bargaining power of buyers--powerful buyers have a significant impact on prices; 4) Bargaining power of suppliers--powerful suppliers can demand premium prices and limit your profit; 5) Barriers to entry (threat of new entrants)--act as a deterrent against new competitors.
Competition within industries is grounded in its underlying economic structure. It goes beyond the behaviour of current competitors. The state of competition in an industrial depends upon five basic competitive forces. The collective strength of these forces determines profit potential in industries. Profit potential is measured in terms of long-term return on invested capital. Different industries have different profit potential—just as the collective strength of the five forces differs between industries. Industrial assessment enables a company to develop a competitive strategy that best defends against the competitive forces or influences them in its favor. The key to developing a competitive strategy is to understand the sources of the competitive forces. By developing an understanding of these competitive forces, the company can: Highlight the company’s critical strengths and weaknesses (SWOT assessment); Animate its position in industries; Clarify areas where strategic changes will result in the greatest payoffs; Emphasize areas where industrial trends indicate the greatest significance as either opportunities or threats. The five competitive forces reveal that competition extends beyond current competitors. Customers, suppliers, substitutes and potential entrants--collectively referred to as an extended rivalry--are competitors to companies within industries. The five competitive forces jointly determine the strength of industrial competition and profitability. The strongest force (or forces) rules and should be the focal point of any industrial assessment and resulting competitive strategy. Short-term factors that affect competition and profitability should be distinguished from the competitive forces that form the underlying structure of industries. Although these short-term factors may have some tactical significance, assessment should focus on industries underlying characteristics.
Porter’s five forces assessment: The bargaining power of buyers comprises one of Porter’s five forces that determine the intensity of in industries. The others are barriers to entry, industrial rivalry, the threat of substitutes and the bargaining power of suppliers. The power of industries important buyer groups depends upon: Characteristics related to its market situation; The relative importance of its purchases from industries as compared with its overall business; How to assess the power of a buyer group. The following conditions indicate that a buyer group is powerful: The buyer group is concentrated, or purchases large volumes relative to the seller’s sales; Products purchased from the industries represent a significant percentage of the buyer’s costs or purchases; Products purchased from industries are standard or undifferentiated—alternative suppliers are easy to find and competitors are played against each other Few switching costs exist (little penalty for moving to another supplier); Profits earned are low (greater incentive to reduce purchasing costs); Buyers pose a significant threat of backward integration—buyers demand concessions, and may engage in tapered integration (producing some components in-house and purchasing the rest from outside suppliers); The industry’s product is not important to the quality of the buyer’s products or services; The buyer has full information (their knowledge of demand, market prices and supplier costs provides them with leverage). The presence of powerful suppliers reduces the profit potential in industries. Suppliers increase competition within industries by threatening to raise prices or reduce the quality of goods and services. As a result, they reduce profitability in industries where companies cannot recover cost increases in their own prices.
Porter’s five forces: The bargaining power of suppliers comprises one of the five forces that determine the intensity of competition in industries. The others are barriers to entry, industrial rivalry, the threat of substitutes and the bargaining power of buyers. Power of supplier group: The following conditions indicate that a supplier group is powerful: It is dominated by a small number of companies and is more concentrated than industries to which it sells; It is not required to contend with substitute products for sale in industries; The industry is not one of the supplier’s important customers; Its products are an important part of the buyer’s business; Its products are differentiated or there are built-up switching costs; It poses a definite threat of forward integration. Barriers to entry are factors that prevent a startup from entering a particular market. As a whole, they comprise one of the five forces that determine the intensity of competition in industries (the others are industrial rivalry, the bargaining power of buyers, the bargaining power of suppliers and the threat of substitutes). The intensity of competition in a certain field determines the attractiveness of a market (that is, low intensity means that the market is attractive). Factors involved as barriers to entry may be either innocent (for example, the dominating company’s absolute cost advantage) or deliberate (for example, high spending on advertising by incumbents make it very expensive for new firms to enter the market). Barriers to entry act as a deterrent against new competitors. They serve as a defensive mechanism that imposes a cost element to new entrants, which incumbents do not have to bear. Startups need to understand any barriers to entry for their business and market for two key reasons: 1) Startups might seek to enter a business with high barriers to entry. Doing so would put the start-up at a significant disadvantage that is difficult to overcome. 2) Startups that become market leaders must understand how to protect their position by building barriers to entry.
Sources of barriers to entry into a market: There are seven sources of barriers to entry. 1) ECONOMIES OF SCALE: These are declines in the unit costs of a product as the absolute volume per period increases. These force the entrant to either come in at a large scale (risking strong reaction from incumbents) or a small scale (forcing a cost disadvantage). 2) PRODUCT DIFFERENTIATION: Incumbents have brand identification and customer loyalties. This forces entrants to spend heavily to overcome these loyalties. Startups may bring a different product to market, but its benefits must be clearly communicated to the target customer. Startups must find an effective positioning, which often requires marketing resources beyond their means. 3) CAPITAL REQUIREMENTS: These are the financial resources required for infrastructure, machinery, R&D and advertising. Startups may get around capital requirements by outsourcing parts of the operation to companies that can leverage existing investments. 4) SWITCHING COSTS: These are one-time costs the buyer faces when switching an existing supplier’s product to a new entrant (for example, employee retraining, new equipment, technical support). 5) ACCESS TO DISTRIBUTION CHANNELS: This can be a barrier if logical distribution channels have been locked up by incumbents. 6) COST DISADVANTAGES INDEPENDENT OF SCALE: Incumbents may have cost advantages that cannot be replicated by a potential entrant. Factors include the learning or experience curve, proprietary product technology, access to raw materials, favorable locations and government subsidies. 7) GOVERNMENT POLICY: Governments can limit or prevent entry to industries with various controls (for example, licensing requirements, limits to access to raw materials). Startups in highly regulated industries will find that incumbents have fine-tuned their business according to regulation.
What response can new entrants expect? The expected reaction of industrial incumbents towards a new entrant influences the prospect or threat of entry by a new competitor. A number of conditions indicate the likelihood of retaliation to entry: A history of strong retaliation to entrants; Established firms with substantial resources to retaliate (for example, excess cash, distribution channel leverage, excess productive capacity); Established firms with commitment to industries and highly illiquid assets; Slow industrial growth.
Industrial rivalry or rivalry among existing firms is one of Porter’s five forces used to determine the intensity of competition in industries. Other factors in this competitive assessment are: Barriers to entry, Bargaining power of buyers, Bargaining power of suppliers; Threat of substitutes. Industrial rivalry usually takes the form of jockeying for position using various tactics (for example, price competition, advertising battles, product introductions). This rivalry tends to increase in intensity when companies either feel competitive pressure or see an opportunity to improve their position. In most industries, one company’s competitive moves will have a noticeable impact on the competition, who will then retaliate to counter those efforts. Companies are mutually dependent, so the pattern of action and reaction may harm all companies and industries. Some types of competition (for example, price competition) are very unstable and negatively influence industrial profitability. Other tactics (for example, advertising battles) may positively influence industries, as they increase demand or enhance product differentiation.
A number of structural factors can affect industrial rivalry: 1) Numerous or equally balanced competitors: When there are many competitors, some companies believe that they can make competitive moves without being noticed. When companies are relatively balanced in strength, they are more likely to engage in competitive battles and attack and retaliate as they strive for market leadership. 2) Slow industrial growth: In a slow growth market, companies can only grow by capturing market share from each other, which leads to increased competition. 3) High fixed or storage costs: High fixed costs create pressure for all companies to fill capacity, thus leading to price cutting when there is excess capacity. High storage costs push companies to decrease prices to ensure sales. 4) Lack of differentiation or switching costs: When products are perceived as commodities, choice is often determined by price and service, which then leads to increased competition in price and service. 5) Capacity increased in large increments: When economies of scale require large increases in capacity, it causes disruptions in the industrial supply/demand balance, which then leads to periods of overcapacity and price cutting. 6) Diverse competitors: Companies with diverse strategies, origins, personalities and relationships to parent companies (especially foreign competitors) also have different competitive goals and strategies than “typical” companies within industries. Their diverse approaches to the market and unique competitive strategies can upset the status quo of doing business. 7) High strategic stakes: Companies with high stakes in achieving success may sacrifice profitability for expansion. Also, companies with high market share may feel threatened by competitors seeking to reduce their market share. 8) High exit barriers: Economic, strategic and emotional factors can prevent companies from leaving industries, even when they are earning low or negative returns on investments. Major sources of exit barriers include: Specialized assets, Fixed costs of exit, Strategic interrelationships, Emotional barriers, Government and social restrictions.
Threat of substitutes (from Porter’s five forces assessment) occurs when companies within one industry are forced to compete with industries producing substitute products or services. Threat of substitutes is one of the five forces that determine the intensity of competition in industries. The others are Barriers to entry, Bargaining power of buyers, Bargaining power of suppliers, Industrial rivalry, Substitutes, potential returns, profits and competition. Substitutes limit industries potential returns by placing a ceiling on the prices that firms within those industries can charge to make a profit. As the price-performance alternative offered by substitutes becomes more attractive, it becomes even more difficult for those firms to make a profit. Demand for substitutes can also reduce the demand for industrial products and services. Substitutes can create intense competition during normal economic times, and reduce potential profit increases during positive economic times. Identifying substitutes involves searching for other products or services that can perform the same function as the industry’s product or service. Positioning industries products or services against the substitutes may take place via collective industrial actions (for example, sustained advertising by industrial participants). Substitute products that deserve the most attention include those: Subject to trends that improve their price-performance tradeoff with the industry’s product; Produced by industries earning high profits—development increases competition in their own industries, causing price reduction or performance improvement. The presence of powerful buyers reduces the profit potential in industries. Buyers increase competition within industries by forcing down prices, bargaining for improved quality or more services, and playing competitors against each other. The result is diminished industrial profitability.
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