Whether you want to assess the current position of your business, expand to new markets, or simply develop a new strategy, a SWOT analysis is probably one of the first steps that you will probably make in that direction. And, if it wasn’t on your radar, it should be! Today, we will see some of the best SWOT analysis examples to get you inspired, and help you understand how to do use it effectively for optimum results.
If you are not familiar with the concept, a SWOT analysis is a key technique for assessing some of the most important aspects of your business. In fact, its name comes from the abbreviation of these aspects:
Strengths – internal
These are the strengths of your company compared to other industry competitors. For example, what is it that you do particularly well that others don’t? What is your unique selling proposition, or that service or aspect of your business that differentiates you from the rest?
Do you have a particular competitive advantage over your biggest competitors? This could be technology, an easy access to primary resources, more product personalization, and so on.
Assessing your strengths will help you identify your current position on the market. But also, give you insights on those aspects that represent a clear advantage for your business, so you can leverage them even more.
Weaknesses – internal
Weaknesses, as you might have guessed, are the exact opposite of your organization’s strength. In other words, what do your competitors do better than you? In what aspect do they have a clear advantage over you?
Is it something that you offer but can improve, or is it a service or an aspect that you lack altogether? For example, your customer service might be unsatisfactory. Or maybe, a competitor has a particular technological feature that your product don’t offer at all.
We will see more of this with practical cases in our section of SWOT Analysis examples.
Opportunities – external
The next aspect of the SWOT analysis is evaluating the positive trends that can open a new opportunity for your business. They usually arise from the outside of your organization, such as industry changes, important movements on the competitors’ landscape, or even a change in the laws applicable to your industry.
Analyzing other factors, such as VUCA – the leadership theory on volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, can also reveal new opportunities for your business. To identify them, you will have to look around you from an external perspective.
Can you spot any current trends that could represent an opportunity for your business? For example, the COVID-19 pandemic made companies like Nike and Adidas sell protective masks on their website as a part of their product portfolio. And many new businesses opened to profit from the changes.
Threats – external
Threats are another aspect that is external to your business, but can impact you negatively if you aren’t paying attention. Some examples include supply chain problems, shift in market requirements, changes to current laws and regulations, and so on.
Of course, threats are not always easy to identify. You will have to be proactively looking for them – if they are obvious, it is probably too late. What is the competition doing? How is the current technology evolving?
Are you noticing a change in user behavior regarding the consumption of your particular product? All these questions can help you get a better understanding of the market, and what could potentially be harmful to you.
And now, let’s get right to our SWOT analysis examples!
Disclaimer: These examples are merely my own analysis and interpretation of the information that is publicly available online for these companies. I don´t work at any of these companies, and I do not pretend that I actually know what is going on behind the scenes for any of them. It is just a practical exercise with real companies with the purpose of giving you a clear idea of how to perform a SWOT analysis.
1. The Coca Cola Company
First on our list of SWOT analysis examples is this one from The Coca Cola Company.
SWOT Analysis examples #1: The Coca Cola Company
Let’s discuss it in detail.
- Variety of products – one of the biggest strengths that The Coca Cola Company has is their incredible variety of products across different categories. In fact, there are over 500 brands across 200 companies owned by Coca Cola. This not only gives them a higher control on the market, but also more diversified expertise, and less overall competition.
- Market share – with a market share of 43% in the soft drink industry, they have a very solid positioning compared to many other competitors. Which also means that it would be extremely difficult to compete with Coca Cola and its almost unlimited resources.
- Brand recognition – Coca Cola is one of the most recognized brands in the world, which gives them a huge advantage in front of their competitors. It also means that any new product or brand they invest in will gain visibility almost immediately.
- Secret recipes – and last but not least, the company prides itself in having a secret recipe for its flagship product – the Coca Cola. This means that this product will be difficult to replicate by competitors.
- Health trends – one of the biggest weaknesses that the company has is its unability to adapt to current health trends. As people are becoming more and more conscious about the unhealthy food and the amount of sugar they are consuming, soft and sugary drinks are slowly getting substituted by healthier options.
- Sugar substitute – another health-related weakness for the company involves the difficulty of improving their quality of their product without affecting its famous taste. Coca Cola has been actively looking for healthy sugar substitutes for years with no success.
- Current positioning – the current positioning of Coca Cola and its soft drinks is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because everyone knows the brand and the product it offers. This kind of brand recognition is something that every company dreams of.
However, this weakness comes with the fact that Coca Cola already has a certain reputation established for itself that is difficult to change. And, considering its sugary drinks with mysterious and secret ingredients, it is certainly not the most positive one.
- Health trends – if The Coca Cola Company closely monitors and responds adequately to current health trends, they have a huge opportunitiy to increase their market share. And get an even bigger chunk of the soft drink industry. Especially if they manage to find a healthy substitute for sugar.
- Few major competitors – considering the dominance of the brand and only a few major competitors for these particular types of products, Coca Cola can quickly introduce new products with the right Marketing strategy.
- Healthier alternatives – although the company is quite dominant when it comes to soft drinks, a lot of other healthier alternatives are arising on the market. Flavoured waters, smoothies, organic drinks, green juices, and so on, are just some of the alternatives that people are starting to prefer as they get more conscious with their health.
- Negative press and media coverage – although The Coca Cola Company is known for its brilliant Marketing strategies and its incredible brand recognition, it also gets a lot of negative coverage for being unhealthy. In-depth research, Youtube videos, and even articles from reputable sources such as The Telegraph might cause serious harm in the long run.
Now that we have seen the first one, let´s move on to the next on our list of SWOT Analysis examples!
Next on our collection of SWOT analysis examples is Airbus, the world’s largest airliner manufacturer, and the one who took the most orders in 2019. So, let’s see what are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for Airbus:
SWOT Analysis examples #2: Airbus
- Market share – with an estimated market share of almost 63%, Airbus is the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world, which gives the company a very strong and powerful position in the industry.
- Global network & international presence – with business operations located in Europe, the Americas, Africa & The Middle East, and Asia, Airbus has an incredible international network and presence.
- Innovation & technology – additionally, Airbus is putting a huge focus on investing in technology, innovation, and next generation manufacturing, more than any other competitor in the industry.
- Eco-efficiency – and last but not least, another strength that Airbus counts with is eco-efficiency. The company has been recognized is a leader in proposing and developing solutions for sustainable aviation.
- Delay in delivery – in 2019, Airbus took more orders for aircraft delivery than any other competitor, including its biggest rival Boeing. However, this caused a delay in the delivery of the orders, causing the company to accumulate a lot of backlogs.
- Operational inefficiencies – compared to rivals such as Boeing, Airbus has gained a reputation of being somewhat inconsistent when it comes to executing operations. The company is often delaying launches of its new models – for example, the launch of Airbus A380 was delayed by more than one year. This weaknesses is definitely something that Airbus could work on.
- High production costs – another key weakness of the company is the fact that it has higher production costs than its main rival Boeing, which leaves them with lower profit margins.
- Boom in Travelling – as the travelling industry is booming due to the growing percentage of the middle class, and the lower costs for airplane tickets compared to a decade ago, aircraft manufacturers are receiving more orders than ever. In fact, even in the next few years, the air traffic is anticipated to grow by 4.3% annually. According to Airbus, this alone will require “39,200 new passenger and dedicated freighter aircraft over the next 20 years.”
- Technological advances – over the last few years, the industry has gone through a lot of innovation processes and technological improvements. This has allowed Airbus to improve its weaknesses and offer better and faster performance. Also, the fact that aircrafts are becoming more and more secure with the new technologies make people want to travel even more.
- Competition – the competition in the aerospace industry is practically considered a duopoly. The reason why is because Boeing and Airbus have a combined share of 91% for the whole commercial aircraft market globally. This means that they will not have to fight off small competitors, but also that the competition between both companies is extremely fierce. Which can be a significant threat for Airbus.
- Global pandemic – in 2020, the whole world suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic. This alone had a severe impact on the growth of the commercial aircraft market, as people suddenly had to stop travelling. And although this was a temporary decrease that is slowly starting to recover, aircraft manufacturers like Airbus will be affected at least for the next one year.
- Potential competitors in key markets – of course, the fact that Airbus and Boeing are currently dominating the global market does not mean that this will last forever. Currently, important markets like China and Russia are also planning to develop their own commercial aircraft. If that happens, it will most probably shrink the market share for Airbus.
Next on our list of SWOT Analysis examples is Zara, one of the biggest clothing companies in the world. Zara is a brand owned by Inditex, among with several others such as Bershka, Stradivarius, and Oysho.
SWOT Analysis examples #3: Zara
- Efficient manufacturing & delivery – Zara is one of the most efficient clothing companies in the world when it comes to all operational processes – manufacturing, delivery, supply chain and logistics. Reportedly, the company needs just 1 week to develop a new product and get it to all 2,259 stores it has worldwide, compared to an industry average of 6 months. This gives Zara a huge advantage when it comes to delivering new designs in record time.
- Competitive pricing – additionally, the company also offers a very competitive pricing for the variety and amount of products it offers. Its clothing is targeted to a middle class audience, although it´s also true that the pricing is adapted to the characteristics of each market. For example, the prices for Zara in South Korea are 96% higher than the prices in Spain, taking into account the exchange rate of the study.
- Strong global presence – As we already mentioned, Zara has over 2,200 stores across 96 countries, positioning itself as a strong international brand with a solid support (Inditex, with over 7,000 stores).
- Fast reaction to new trends – the company is known for imitating high-fashion trends, and it is extremely fast when it comes to spotting and replicating them for its own products.
The company´s strengths is what makes it one of my favourite SWOT analysis examples on this list. They are very well defined, and definitely makes Zara stand out from competitors. However, this does not mean that there are no weaknesses:
- Zero policy advertising – the company is famous for its zero policy advertising. This means that, instead of investing in Marketing and Communication actions, they use the money for opening new stores. Although this policy has some awesome benefits, I think that it´s also a very big weakness. The heavy digital advertising done by competitors can completely overshadow Zara in the long run.
- Limited product stock – because Zara delivers fashion pieces in record time, they don´t produce as much stock as other companies would. Which is not great news for customers who often love a piece, and it is already out of stock – or simply not in the size they need.
- Controversies – additionally, the company is also involved in multiple controversies revolving child labour and paying under minimum wage. As people are getting more and more conscious about these topics, these controversies is doing a lot of harm to the company´s reputation.
- High fashion imitation – as we already mentioned, Zara is known to imitate fashion trends. Which means that they are not a trend setter, and they do not offer a lot of unique and creative pieces designed exclusively by them.
- Growing demand for high fashion – currently, there is a growing demand for clothing that looks high fashion, but don´t cost thousands of dollars for a single piece. This is a great opportunity for Zara, which does precisely what people want – selling high fashion style for affordable prices.
- Fast fashion – as customer behavior is changing, people get bored with everything faster than ever. And this is true for fashion as well – clothes that people would wear for months and years now get substituted with new pieces much more often. Which is another excellent opportunity for Zara as the so-called “fast fashion is on the rise”.
- Market growth – according to Statista, the growth of the apparel market is steadily increasing by 5-6% every year, which is great news for clothing companies like Zara.
And now, let´s take a look at the external changes that are imposing a threat for this one of our SWOT analysis examples:
- Growing competition – the increasing demand for fashion and apparel also means that competition is growing as well. With huge online providers taking over the Internet such as ASOS, Fashion Nova, Shein and others, Zara´s popularity is becoming threatened by other companies. Especially considering the fact that these providers actually offer products from multiple brands at the same place.
- Increasing costs – another tendency that could impose a significant threat for Zara are the increasing costs for production and raw material. Which, as a consequence, will probably reduce its revenue and profit margins. Especially considering the fact the prices are already relatively low! For now, Zara has managed to develop a well integrated and efficient supply chain that keeps the cost of raw materials low. But this might not last forever, especially if the prices keep rising.
- Regulatory threats – the business industry is gradually getting more and more regulated. On a global scale, governments and legal agencies are regulating all kind of sectors and businesses, and the fashion market is not an exception. This includes labour, quality, customer services, and many other aspects of the industry. All of these regulations might eventually have a negative impact on Zara.
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How do you write a good SWOT analysis?
The first step for writing a good SWOT analysis is to determine your objective - what company and strategy are you going to analyze? Next, take a piece of paper and draw a grid with 4 squares, labeling each one of them as it follows - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The key to a good SWOT analysis is getting as specific as possible with each section in order to get more tangible and clear points of action.
What is a SWOT analysis tool?
SWOT analysis is a technique for strategic planning that allows you to assess and identify the strengths and weaknesses of your company (internal factors), as well as the opportunities and threats that may come from the outside, including market trends and competition (external factors).
Why is SWOT analysis important?
SWOT analysis is important for businesses because it provides them with a simple, but powerful framework to assess their own ability to compete on the market, identifying strengths to highlight and weaknesses to work on improving. It also gives them a quick glance at the market from an outside perspective, allowing them to spot current opportunities and identify potential threats that should be addressed as early as possible.
What is the most difficult part of the SWOT analysis?
While the answer may vary between companies and industries, the most difficult part of the SWOT analysis tends to be Opportunities. The main reason why is because the answer may sometimes require a comprehensive and detailed market research to reveal certain opportunities.
And that was all from me, folks! I hope you liked my in-depth SWOT analysis examples. I think the best way to learn a concept is to see how it is applied in practice. For this reason, I wanted to focus this article from a practical rather than a theoretical perspective. However, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or just let me know in the comments below!
Thank you for taking the time to read my article 3 Great SWOT Analysis Examples with Real Companies, and I hope to see you in the next one!