5 Force Analysis How to Use It in Business



5 Forces analysis is a tool developed by Michael Porter, an economist, in 1979. This tool helps business owners and managers analyze the competitive environment in which they operate and make decisions to maximize their returns on investment. With this analysis, it’s possible to determine the strengths and weaknesses of a business as well as potential opportunities and threats. It takes into account the five key forces that determine the strength of competition in an industry: competitors, buyers, suppliers, new entrants, and product substitutes.

The goal of 5 Forces analysis is to provide businesses with insights into ways they can increase their returns or limit their losses by strategically positioning themselves within their industry. By conducting an in-depth assessment of each of these five forces – customers, competitors, suppliers, entrants and substitutes – businesses can gain a better understanding of how each force affects their decision-making and profitability. Understanding how all five forces interact is essential for creating a successful business plan that will give you an edge over your competitors.

This article will explore how businesses can use 5 Forces analysis to inform decisions related to strategy development, cost structures or pricing models. We’ll look at practical examples from various industries including retailing, energy production and consulting services where 5 Forces has been applied successfully to maximize profits or minimize risk. Finally we’ll end with some concluding remarks on how this model can be applied with other analytical tools such as Porter’s Value Chain or SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats).

What is 5 Force Analysis?

5 Force Analysis is a strategic tool used to identify and analyze the competitive dynamics in an industry or market. It first appeared in 1979, when Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter developed the tool to help companies determine how best to compete in their given market.

The 5 Forces model evaluates five different competitive forces that determine the tactical position of any company: suppliers, customers, existing competitors, potential entrants and industry substitutes. Each of these forces can influence a company’s profitability and sustainability or create opportunities for growth. By understanding each of these elements, companies can create effective strategies that could give them a competitive edge over their competition.

This model allows companies to assess current advantages or disadvantages relative to competition and make necessary changes to stay competitive. Additionally, a comprehensive analysis will provide insight into future trends and how new technologies might affect the industry overall, allowing for better preparedness for future events. To produce an accurate assessment of the 5 forces facing a business venture, businesses must consider both internal as well external factors such as pricing policies, competency level of personnel and access to third-party resources for creating products or services.

In short, 5 Force Analysis is an effective tool used by businesses throughout the world to gain insights into their industry’s dynamics that can inform strategic decision-making moving forward. This analysis helps assess potential growth opportunities by mapping out rivals’ strengths and weaknesses relative to their own capabilities while also understanding constraints imposed by external sources on ongoing operations.

The Five Forces

The Five Forces is a tool developed by business strategist Michael Porter that helps individuals, organizations, and companies to identify and analyze the five competitive forces that influence an industry. The five forces are buyers, suppliers, substitutes, new entrants, and the industry itself. By understanding these forces, businesses can strategize and make decisions that will benefit their business in the long run.

This article will discuss how to use the Five Forces in today’s business environment.

Threat of New Entrants

The threat of new entrants can be broken down and understood in terms of 5 key forces that pose a risk to the success of any given business. This threat is viewed as a generally high-level overview of how achievable it is to enter a given marker and compete. A company can use this knowledge when developing strategies and determining what potential risks may confront them should they choose to enter a new market.

The five forces are:

  • Supplier Power: Refers to the supplier’s ability to influence the cost, supply, or quality of goods and services for their customers.
  • Buyer Power: Represents the strength of buyers in negotiation with suppliers on pricing, quality, product availability, and availability of substitutes.
  • Threat of Substitutes: This force looks at existing alternatives or replacements for products or services from direct competitors as well as overall demand for these goods/services from other sources such as alternate products.
  • Barriers to Entry: Refers to obstacles an interested party may face when trying to enter the given market such as legal barriers, brand loyalty, capital requirements, technological challenges etc.
  • Competitive Rivalry: The level of competition among current firms in the industry affects pricing strategies among competitors while also impacting progress made within the market.

Understanding this combination and how each force will affect your business is key when conducting an industry analysis looking at potential threats posed by both new entry and existing competition alike. It’s important that organizations develop strategies that consider each one individually before they decide if they can successfully enter into a particular industry or sustain their competitive position in an already crowded space.

Bargaining Power of Buyers

Bargaining power of buyers refers to the ability of a small set of customers to dictate prices and terms to suppliers. This is because they are able to buy large quantities which can cause suppliers to have limited power. Buyers may also have a stronger position if their purchases are particularly important for a supplier’s profits or revenue generation.

Buyers may also benefit from the availability of substitute products, allowing them to switch to other brands if the price or quality offered by one particular supplier does not meet their requirements. Additionally, buyers may use their size and strength in bargaining with suppliers in order to get discounts or other benefits through long-term agreements or contracts.

Finally, buyers are able to influence the prices paid for products by gathering information about pricing from different suppliers and using this information as leverage in bargaining talks with vendors. Purchasing agents at organizations can pick and choose between different suppliers depending on cost and quality criteria. As such, it is critical for business organizations smaller than that of their potential buyers to be aware of the abilities and impact that buyer power can have on their profit margins.

Bargaining Power of Suppliers

Bargaining Power of Suppliers refers to the power of suppliers to control prices, the quality of merchandise, and the range of products offered. The extent of supplier power depends upon the number of suppliers competing in an industry. A company with few suppliers and those suppliers offering similar products has less bargaining power than a company facing many other suppliers offering a variety of opportunities.

When calculating the bargaining power of your suppliers, consider:

  • How much they could raise prices
  • Whether they can offer better service or quality products than competitors
  • What it would cost to switch to a different supplier
  • How much access you have to their data and resources
  • If they are easy to work with
  • If needed changes are easy for them to implement

If there is little competition for supplies or the market for supplies is growing at a faster rate than demand, then suppliers can set higher prices before running out of customers. Suppliers have more leverage when buyers are not sophisticated and lack information about other suppliers and product quality comparison. High switching costs can also lead to more leverage on behalf advantages by you as manufacturer or retailer customers.

The fashion industry is particularly vulnerable to this threat as apparel fabrics involve fast-changing trends requiring seasonal investments in new goods; high purchase costs due to custom designs; frequent redesigns that lead buyers into higher commitment risks with current vendors; long lead times which limit efficiency gains from exposure with global sources; lack of standardized goods leading buyers into repeated negotiations with vendors over terms and conditions, product specs., and fine details around design elements. The fashion industry’s supply chain can present multiple challenges including:

  • Long production time frames from manufacturing mills
  • Fabric deliveries in advance replenishment decision times (not taking into account market demands resulting from mitigating activities such as consumer advertising campaigns)
  • Supply chain inventory management resulting from insufficient supplier reorder points accurately measuring consumer uptake ahead off season selling periods etc.

Threat of Substitute Products

Threat of substitute products refers to the availability of alternative products or services that a customer could choose instead of the firm’s offerings. Customers may opt for substitutes if they offer superior performance in terms of price, quality, convenience, or other features such as better style and design.

Substitute products can be produced by an entirely different industry or the same industry. When they are produced in a similar industry, they can arise from existing rivals or from new entrants into the market. Substitutes can also change over time; for example, new technology may open up potential substitute channels for customers which did not exist before.

The availability and strength of substitute products therefore varies greatly depending on market structure and industry dynamics; for example, markets with numerous small players with relatively low differentiation between their offerings tend to have higher threat of substitutes than markets served by a few dominant players who handle a wide array of specialized product lines. In either case, understanding these threats is essential to developing effective strategies to counter them.

Intensity of Rivalry

The intensity of rivalry measures the competition that exists between businesses seeking to gain market share from each other. This force is a key component of Porter’s Five Forces analysis and it can be used to determine the competitiveness of an industry. It examines not just the number of competitors in an industry, but also the characteristics of those competitors such as their market sizes, product quality and promotional capabilities.

The intensity of rivalry is often related to:

  • Number of Competitors: The density of firms competing increases competition. When there are more competing firms, they will be more aggressively pursuing a larger piece of the market share, decreasing profits for all involved companies.
  • Strategic Motive: High strategic motive refers to when one company perceives tremendous upside potential that could come from taking over another firm or driving them out of the market.
  • Capacity Utilization: If a high percentage (over 60%) of capacity is being utilized by existing firms, new entrants into that industry may face some resistance from existing firms in terms of their ability to secure capacity when needed.
  • Product Differentiation: Increased product differentiation can make it tougher for new entrants into markets where several incumbent firms are already well established with strong brand loyalty and customer retention programs in place.
  • Exit Barriers: If there are significant costs associated with exiting a business due to expensive overhead or procurement costs for inputs/raw materials, then it may be difficult for incumbent firms to exit the market without suffering huge losses financially.

High intensity rivalry can lead to price wars or campaigns aimed at specifically targeting competitors rather than customers, which can hurt all businesses in the market regardless if they use Porter’s Five Forces analysis or not.

How to Use 5 Force Analysis in Business

5 Force Analysis is a strategic tool used to evaluate the competitive environment of an industry. It helps in defining the strategic direction of a business by analyzing the strength of five different forces that influence the competition within an industry. By using this tool, businesses can get a better understanding of their industry, potential competitors, and the challenge posed by new entrants.

Let’s take a closer look at how to use 5 Force Analysis in business:

Identify Your Industry’s Key Players

It’s important to understand who the key players are in your industry. This can include current, potential and former competitors, as well as suppliers, customers, distributors and government regulators. When identifying your industry’s key players, be sure to assess their strengths and look at their market position and market share. Also research any form of vertical integration they have adopted (when a company handles multiple phases of production) or horizontal integration (the process of expanding by acquiring similar companies).

Encourage customer loyalty by offering customer loyalty programs or incentives such as rewards points, discounts or higher-level access to products or services. Consider how adding a loyalty program or modifying an existing one can increase customer commitment. Also consider the level of customer service you offer in terms of response times for inquiries and problem resolution. Keep an eye on industry trends to anticipate future changes in customer preferences so that you can pre-emptively respond with new services, products or deals that suit their needs.

Analyze barriers to entry for new companies entering your industry. Are there licensing requirements? Is there thorough regulation that makes developing a company from scratch too lengthy and costly? Are there legal restrictions? What technology is required for new companies to be successful? Governments sometimes protect established firms by imposing tariffs on foreign imports, setting rules that discourage new competition in the local market and preventing entrance into certain industries through licensing requirements. Consider the impact these policies have on potential competitors when devising your own business strategy.

Finally try to identify any possible substitutes which may affect demand within the market; this includes technological innovations which could slow down growth within certain sectors directly related to your business activities as well as other products which may compete with yours (e.g think streaming video replacing physical DVD sales). Understanding potential substitutes allows businesses to anticipate changes in consumer demand while they still have time to adjust their strategy accordingly – helping them maintain or improve their competitive advantage over rival industries.

Analyze Your Industry’s Competitive Environment

Five Forces analysis is a powerful tool to evaluate the competitive environment, which helps organizations and businesses to understand whether new products and services are profitable. It also helps them to identify opportunities and risks before any investment. This framework was introduced by Michael E. Porter in 1979, who suggested that five key areas act as forces that shape the industry and competition. Let’s explore what those five forces are:

  1. Competitive Rivalry: This force looks at how intense the competition is in your industry and how likely it is that someone else can enter the market.
  2. Supplier Power: How do suppliers control the cost of their inputs and have those costs transferred downstream to buyers? How many suppliers are out there?
  3. Buyer power: Do buyers have sufficient bargaining power over prices? Are they heavily dependent on one or two providers? If so, then buyer power is high.
  4. Threat of Substitution: What are some potential substitutes for current offerings in the market? What kind of pressure does this put on current providers?
  5. Entry/Exit Barriers: If a company wants to enter or exit an industry, what would be required in terms of capital investments or other resources? Are there regulations hindering new firms from entering or exiting, creating natural barriers?

Monitor Changes in the Competitive Environment

It is important to monitor changes in the competitive environment in order to analyze and plan for future strategy. To do this, you can use Five Forces Analysis. This tool was developed by Michael Porter in 1979 and allows you to make decisions about the overall competitiveness of your industry.

The five forces are:

  1. Competitive market rivalry: This considers how many players are competing in an industry, as well as how much capacity there is for new competitors to enter the market
  2. Buyer bargaining power: Analyze how much control buyers have over pricing, terms of service and sales volume
  3. Supplier bargaining power: Evaluate any existing contracts with key suppliers that may affect your ability to compete effectively
  4. Availability of substitute products/services: Examine the amount of existing competition within your industry, as well as potential new competitors that could offer similar products or services
  5. The threat of new entrants: Consider whether any outside firms have a competitive advantage that could prevent them from entering your market

By analyzing each force individually and weighing them against each other, you can gain insight into which aspects will most affect your success and make business decisions accordingly. With this information on hand, you’ll be better prepared for potential changes in the competitive environment and can plan strategies for continued success in the future.


Ultimately, the 5 Forces framework can be a valuable tool for understanding your competitive landscape and giving you an upper hand when it comes to making decisions for your business. It’s important to remember that this is just one of the many strategies available for analyzing and understanding a given market or industry, so it’s advised that you take the time to explore other strategies and utilize those that will give you the most information about where your business stands in comparison to its competitors.

By doing this, you’ll be able to make informed decisions that will help lead your business to success.