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Porter's Five Force Analysis

Using Porter's Five Forces model to frame the discussion, analyze and synthesize the competitive forces within the discount and variety retail industry. What are some of the challenges within Target's existing strategy?

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Question: Five Force Analysis

Using Porter's Five Forces model to frame the discussion, analyze and synthesize the competitive forces within the discount and variety retail industry. What are some of the challenges within Target's existing strategy?

Consider the following to incorporate into your analysis to formulate your own answer(s) into your assignment.

A means of providing corporations with an analysis of their competition and determining strategy, Porter's five-forces model looks at the strength of five distinct competitive forces, which, when taken together, determine long-term profitability and competition. Porter's work has had a greater influence on business strategy than any other theory in the last half of the twentieth century, and his more recent work may have a similar impact on global competition.

The model of pure competition implies that risk-adjusted rates of return should be constant across firms and industries. However, numerous economic studies have affirmed that different industries can sustain different levels of profitability; part of this difference is explained by industry structure. Michael Porter provided a framework that models an industry as being influenced by five forces. The strategic business manager seeking to develop an edge over rival firms can use this model to better understand the industry context in which the firm operates.

Michigan native Michael Porter was born in 1947, was educated at Princeton, and earned an MBA (1971) and Ph.D. (1973) from Harvard. He was promoted to full professor at Harvard at age 34 and is currently C. Roland Christensen Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. He has published numerous books and articles, the first Interbrand Choice, Strategy and Bilateral Market Power, appearing in 1976. His best known and most widely used and referenced books are Competitive Strategy (1980) and Competitive Advantage (1985). Competitive Strategy revolutionized contemporary approaches to business strategy through application of the five-force model. In Competitive Advantage, Porter further developed his strategy concepts to include the creation of a sustainable advantage. His other model, the value chain model, centers on product added value. Porter's work is widely read by business strategists around the world as well as business students. Any MBA student recognizes his name as one of the icons of business literature. The Strategic Management Society named Porter the most important living strategist in 1998, and Kevin Coyne of the consulting firm McKinsey and Co. called Porter "the single most important strategist working today, and maybe of all time."

Diagram of Porter's 5 Forces

In the traditional economic model, competition among rival firms drives profits to zero. But competition is not perfect and firms are not unsophisticated passive price takers. Rather, firms strive for a competitive advantage over their rivals. The intensity of rivalry among firms varies across industries, and strategic analysts are interested in these differences.

Economists measure rivalry by indicators of industry concentration. The Concentration Ratio (CR) is one such measure. The Bureau of Census periodically reports the CR for major Standard Industrial Classifications (SIC's). The CR indicates the percent of market share held by the four largest firms (CR's for the largest 8, 25, and 50 firms in an industry also are available). A high concentration ratio indicates that a high concentration of market share is held by the largest firms - the industry is concentrated. With only a few firms holding a large market share, the competitive landscape is less competitive (closer to a monopoly). A low concentration ratio indicates that the industry is characterized by many rivals, none of which has a significant market share. These fragmented markets are said to be competitive. The concentration ratio is not the only available measure; the trend is to define industries in terms that convey more information than distribution of market share.

If rivalry among firms in an industry is low, the industry is considered to be disciplined. This discipline may result from the industry's history of competition, the role of a leading firm, or informal compliance with a generally understood code of conduct. Explicit collusion generally is illegal and not an option; in low-rivalry industries competitive moves must be constrained informally. However, a maverick firm seeking a competitive advantage can displace the otherwise disciplined market.

When a rival acts in a way that elicits a counter-response by other firms, rivalry intensifies. The intensity of rivalry commonly is referred to as being cutthroat, intense, moderate, or weak, based on the firms' aggressiveness in attempting to gain an advantage.

In pursuing an advantage over its rivals, a firm can choose from several competitive moves:
Changing prices - raising or lowering prices to gain a temporary advantage

Improving product differentiation - improving features, implementing innovations in the manufacturing process and in the product itself

Creatively using channels of distribution - using vertical integration or using a distribution channel that is novel to the industry

For example, with high-end jewelry stores reluctant to carry its watches, Timex moved into drugstores and other non-traditional outlets and cornered the low to mid-price watch market.

Exploiting relationships with suppliers - for example, from the 1950's to the 1970's Sears, Roebuck and Co. dominated the retail household appliance market.

Sears set high quality standards and required suppliers to meet its demands for product specifications and price.

The intensity of rivalry is influenced by the following industry characteristics:

1. A larger number of firms increase rivalry because more firms must compete for the same customers and resources. The rivalry intensifies if the firms have similar market share, leading to a struggle for market leadership.

2. Slow market growth causes firms to fight for market share. In a growing market, firms are able to improve revenues simply because of the expanding market.

3. High fixed costs result in an economy of scale effect that increases rivalry. When total costs are mostly fixed costs, the firm must produce near capacity to attain the lowest unit costs. Since the firm must sell this large quantity of product, high levels of production lead to a fight for market share and results in increased rivalry.

4. High storage costs or highly perishable products cause a producer to sell goods as soon as possible. If other producers are attempting to unload at the same time, competition for customers intensifies.

5. Low switching costs increases rivalry. When a customer can freely switch from one product to another there is a greater struggle to capture customers.

6. Low levels of product differentiation are associated with higher levels of rivalry. Brand identification, on the other hand, tends to constrain rivalry.

7. Strategic stakes are high when a firm is losing market position or has potential for great gains. This intensifies rivalry.

8. High exit barriers place a high cost on abandoning the product. The firm must compete. High exit barriers cause a firm to remain in an industry, even when the venture is not profitable. A common exit barrier is asset specificity. When the plant and equipment required for manufacturing a product is highly specialized, these assets cannot easily be sold to other buyers in another industry. Litton Industries' acquisition of Ingalls Shipbuilding facilities illustrates this concept. Litton was successful in the 1960's with its contracts to build Navy ships. But when the Vietnam War ended, defense spending declined and Litton saw a sudden decline in its earnings. As the firm restructured, divesting from the shipbuilding plant was not feasible since such a large and highly specialized investment could not be sold easily, and Litton was forced to stay in a declining shipbuilding market.

9. A diversity of rivals with different cultures, histories, and philosophies make an industry unstable. There is greater possibility for mavericks and for misjudging rival's moves. Rivalry is volatile and can be intense. The hospital industry, for example, is populated by hospitals that historically are community or charitable institutions, by hospitals that are associated with religious organizations or universities, and by hospitals that are for-profit enterprises. This mix of philosophies about mission has lead occasionally to fierce local struggles by hospitals over who will get expensive diagnostic and therapeutic services. At other times, local hospitals are highly cooperative with one another on issues such as community disaster planning.

10. Industry Shakeout. A growing market and the potential for high profits induce new firms to enter a market and incumbent firms to increase production. A point is reached where the industry becomes crowded with competitors, and demand cannot support the new entrants and the resulting increased supply. The industry may become crowded if its growth rate slows and the market becomes saturated, creating a situation of excess capacity with too many goods chasing too few buyers. A shakeout ensues, with intense competition, price wars, and company failures.

BCG founder Bruce Henderson generalized this observation as the Rule of Three and Four: a stable market will not have more than three significant competitors, and the largest competitor will have no more than four times the market share of the smallest. If this rule is true, it implies that:

o If there is a larger number of competitors, a shakeout is inevitable
o Surviving rivals will have to grow faster than the market
o Eventual losers will have a negative cash flow if they attempt to grow
o All except the two largest rivals will be losers
o The definition of what constitutes the "market" is strategically important.

Whatever the merits of this rule for stable markets, it is clear that market stability and changes in supply and demand affect rivalry. Cyclical demand tends to create cutthroat competition. This is true in the disposable diaper industry in which demand fluctuates with birth rates, and in the greeting card industry in which there are more predictable business cycles.

The five-force model was developed in Porter's 1980 book, Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors. To Porter, the classic means of developing a strategy?a formula for competition, goals, and policies to achieve those goals?was antiquated and in need of revision. Porter was searching for a solution between the two schools of prevailing thought-the Harvard Business School's urging firms to adjust to a unique set of changing circumstances and that of the Boston Consulting Group, based on the experience curve, whereby the more a company knows about the existing market, the more its strategy can be directed to increase its share of the market.

Porter applied microeconomic principles to business strategy and analyzed the strategic requirements of industrial sectors, not just specific companies. The five forces are competitive factors which ...

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MS Word Document(s) - Porter's Five Forces model to analyze and synthesize the competitive forces within the retail industry focusing on Target's existing strategy - 2 Attachments
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