How to Use Michael Porters 5 Forces


Introduction to Porter’s Five Forces

Michael Porter’s Five Forces is a powerful business strategy tool used to identify and analyze the competitive forces that shape every industry. It helps companies understand the external factors that affect the competitiveness of their business environment and enables them to develop strategies that best position them in the market.

This article will provide an introduction to Porter’s Five Forces, and discuss how to use them to gain a competitive advantage.

Overview of the 5 forces

Michael Porter’s Five Forces is a framework for analyzing the potential profitability of an industry. Understanding the structure of an industry is the foundational step to doing business in that market. The five forces are: Supplier power, buyer power, competitive rivalry, threat of substitution and threat of new entrants. It is beneficial to businesses seeking to enter industries or increase their existing profits to comprehend how Porter’s Five Forces affects profitability and competition.

  • Supplier Power: This force measures the bargaining power of supplier and input costs when it comes to negotiating terms with suppliers. It generally works in tandem with buyer power in its effect upon profitability, and firms must estimate how supply availability may affect their operations.
  • Buyer Power: This force is similar to Supplier Power but measures instead a company’s ability to negotiate pricing from customers or buyers by calculating the buyers’ product preferences and switching costs based on substitutes that may be available elsewhere where price points may be better met.
  • Competitive Rivalry: This force seeks to explain how competitive a market is in terms of existing businesses competing with one another relative to each other, as well as factors like barriers-to-entry (ease or difficulty) for new firms entering into a market space.
  • Threat of Substitution: Anticipating powerful substitutes (better quality products offering greater value/benefits) from alternative markets can create challenges for companies who do not address this possibility by having counterbalancing measures in place that can offer “defensive” protection against losing customers through substitution rather than loyalty for product quality/value.
  • Threat of New Entrants: Existing companies must anticipate potential competitors entering into their respective markets which could lead to reduced margins due to increased competition – this can drive innovation amongst competitors or alternatively squash innovation due low pricing pressure if many competitors flood into an already saturated space leading firms into money losing situations based on volume versus margin goals which they must meet despite barriers-to-entry which prevent them from doing so (due either political or proprietary interests).

Benefits of using Porter’s 5 forces

The Porter’s Five Forces model is a useful tool for analyzing the structure of an industry and developing strategies for corporate decision-making. It provides an overview of the existing competitive forces and helps predict potential disruptions that will shape future market dynamics. Leveraging this analytical framework allows companies to gain a better understanding of the forces driving their industry and adjust strategic decisions accordingly.

The five forces are:

  1. Threat of new entrants: New competitors in an industry can drive down prices, reduce profitability, or cause complete market disruption.
  2. Bargaining power of suppliers: Strong supplier relationships can improve prices, quality and delivery times; however, weak supplier relationships can cause cost overruns due to higher prices or increased costs associated with inconsistent or inadequate product quality or delays in delivery times.
  3. Bargaining power of buyers: Unstable buyer demand or bargaining power can lead to losses in revenue due to decreased sales volume and negotiation power; however, strong buyer relationships may increase sales volume but reduce margins due to lower prices as buyers attempt to get product at bargain prices by taking advantage of discounts or extended payment terms.
  4. Threat of substitute products/services: Substitute products or services may be present in different markets that could replace certain aspects within the industry; these substitutes may offer different benefits such as cost savings due to lower prices, additional features not offered by current offerings, or from better performance with respect to reliability or speed which could quickly eliminate existing competitive advantages enjoyed by competitors within the market.
  5. Competitive rivalry among existing firms: The rivalry among existing firms in an industry is one of the strongest forces influencing business operations since companies are constantly competing for customers through price wars, marketing campaigns, product improvements and other tactics meant to capture larger market share and profits for their firm versus those taken away from their rivals; thus this force is one that must constantly be monitored in order for a business plan successfully executed over time which will help maintain its long-term viability against those competitors operating within the same space in order maintain continued success within its respective marketplace going forward into the future.


Understanding the relationship between suppliers and business owners is a critical part of using Michael Porter’s five forces. Suppliers are important because they provide the inputs necessary for a company to create a product or service. The power of the suppliers can determine whether or not the firm is able to source the necessary inputs at a price that will allow them to remain competitive in the market.

Let’s take a closer look at how suppliers affect the five forces:

Assess the bargaining power of suppliers

The bargaining power of suppliers is part of the larger external environment in which your business operates. This is known as Michael Porter’s five forces, an external assessment tool used to measure the effects of competition, buyers, suppliers and substitutes on a company’s performance.

When assessing the power of suppliers, or those from whom you purchase goods or services, look at the following factors:

  • Cost of raw materials: A low cost for raw materials can set you apart from competitors. It could also increase your profits if you are able to sell those goods at a lower cost to customers due to lower material costs.
  • Number of suppliers: If there are many suppliers offering similar products or services with varying price points and quality levels, you may not get the best deal. Consider consolidating your purchasing power with fewer suppliers through bulk orders or contracts to increase value and save money over time.
  • Threat of new entrants: An increase in new entrants in the market could drive down prices due to increased competition it could be difficult for some companies to compete and remain profitable in such an environment.
  • Unique products/services: If only certain suppliers can provide certain products or services, they will have a great deal of pricing leverage since no other company’s offerings can replace what they offer.
  • Switch time and cost: On the other hand, if switching between multiple vendors is relatively fast and simple for your business, you may have more pricing options when looking for supplies as well as leverage over current vendors when negotiating terms.

Analyze the threat of substitute suppliers

When analyzing the threat of substitute suppliers, it is important to understand that it does not only relate to switching suppliers within the same industry. In fact, for certain goods and services, substitutes could come from other industries. Therefore, a thorough analysis should consider all potential sources.

Supplier power is determined by the strength of their bargaining position and leverage in relation to their customers. Typically, suppliers enjoy greater power when there are fewer vendors from which to choose or when a particular vendor holds control over an essential resource that has no direct substitute or replacement (e.g., rare earth minerals). Moreover, if captive customers exist through contractual arrangements or regulations that limit competitive options – buyers may have very limited power in bargaining with suppliers.

Furthermore, it’s important to understand that supplier costs are passed-through directly to customers in most cases – increasing prices without being able to adjust or modify quality standards or speed of delivery due to tight agreements with distributors/suppliers. Therefore, an understanding of what type and level of substitutes are available is essential for firms attempting gain strategic advantage through supplier reduction programs or bid optimization initiatives.

Finally, it’s also possible for buyers and sellers both benefit from closer relationships with more tailored solutions generated through ‘coopetition’ initiatives where buyers work closely with suppliers in order jointly produce ideas and innovate solutions that meet the requirements set by analysts considering:

  • total cost packages (TCO)
  • technology advancement requirements (TAR)
  • capability enhancement requirements (CAR)

Through these types of partnerships can help identify areas most at risk from substitution threats while developing strategies for countering threats posed by competitor organizations in a given market-space.


Understanding the bargaining power of buyers is an important part of using Michael Porter’s 5 Forces to assess an industry. Buyers have the power to influence prices and the quality of products and services. This can be beneficial if you’re a buyer, but it can also be a challenge from the perspective of a seller.

Let’s take a closer look at the power of buyers and how it impacts an industry:

Assess the bargaining power of buyers

When analyzing the bargaining power of buyers, it’s important to understand how much influence they have on the profitability of your business. The more influential or powerful they are, the more money they can demand from you in return for selling your product. The weaker they are, the lower prices you can charge in order to make a profit.

The bargaining power of buyers is measured by considering five factors:

  1. Buyer volume: Do buyers buy a lot at a time?
  2. Product differentiation: Does your product stand out or do similar products exist?
  3. Buyer switching costs: How hard is for buyers to switch to another supplier?
  4. Brand identity and loyalty: Are there customers strongly identified with certain brands?
  5. Price sensitivity: What is customer’s ability and willingness to pay for quality and service?

By assessing these five forces you can better understand the strength of buyer’s position in relation to your own. For example, if customers often buy large volumes at once and there are few alternative suppliers available then their bargaining power will be higher than yours. On the other hand, if customers often switch between suppliers due to price sensitivity then their bargaining power is likely not as strong as it may seem at first.

Analyze the threat of substitute buyers

Analyzing the threat of substitute buyers involves considering the ease with which customers can switch to alternative or competing products. These can include existing, new and re-emerging products from other providers that serve either a similar purpose or a different but complementary one. A major point of consideration here is whether or not substitute buyers are in a position to switch more easily and on more attractive terms than they currently do.

If the answer is yes, then this presents a bigger threat to your business than if buyers only have limited ability and resources to switch products. When considering the presence of substitute buyers, it is important to pay attention to cultural preferences and trends influencing people’s buying decisions in addition to economic dynamics. Some customers may opt for cheaper versions of your product due to financial constraints, while others are willing to pay a premium for certain features and post-purchase service guarantees they deem important. By understanding these factors, you can make better decisions about pricing, product design and customer service that will increase customer loyalty and reduce the appeal of switching.

Competitive Rivalry

Competitive rivalry is one of the most important elements of Porter’s five forces analysis. It refers to the intensity of competition in the industry and is largely driven by the number of competitors. When competition is intense, companies may have to resort to price wars, aggressive marketing, or other tactics in order to gain market share.

This section will discuss the implications of competitive rivalry and how to use it in Michael Porter’s five forces analysis.

Analyze the intensity of competitive rivalry

One of the most powerful tools used in strategic analysis is Michael Porter’s Five Forces. This tool objectively evaluates the degree of competition within a particular industry or market segment and helps companies to identify their competitive strengths and weaknesses.

The intensity of competitive rivalry depends on several factors, such as the following:

  • Number of competitors: The more competitors there are, the more difficult it is for any company to gain an advantage over its rivals. If a market has few players, then the competition will be less intense as each company can control its prices and profits.
  • Brand Loyalty: Consumers will tend to stick with well-known brands if they have a strong sense of loyalty towards that brand. This reduces competitive pressure on businesses, making it easier for them to maintain their competitive edge.
  • Cost Structure: Companies with higher costs tend to struggle more than those with lower costs, as they may face margin compression due to increased competition. This reduces the competitive environment and makes it easier for lower cost producers to emerge ahead.
  • Exit Barriers: Some industries have high exit barriers, meaning that there are costs associated with leaving the business that make it difficult for competitors to leave or enter a market quickly. This can reduce levels of competitiveness and make it easier for existing companies in this space to maintain their position.

By analyzing these factors, businesses can get a better understanding of their level of competition in any given market and develop strategies accordingly that ensure they remain at an advantage over their rivals in terms of cost structure and brand loyalty.

Identify potential new entrants

When using Michael Porter’s Five Forces, one of the components to consider is potential new entrants into the market – companies or individuals who are looking to join an existing industry. New entrants can have a major impact on the market–they can lead to increased competition, improved products and services, and lower prices. However, they can also make it harder for existing players in the market to maintain their profits due to increased rivalry or falling demand for their products.

To identify potential new entrants, it’s important to consider both external factors (such as competitor behaviour and government regulations) as well as internal factors (such as capital intensity, economies of scale and cost competitiveness). It can also be helpful to understand how difficult it is for a potential entrant to enter into the market: what type of barriers exist which would prevent them from competing? These barriers could include patents or expensive contracts with suppliers or customers. Additionally, understanding the current levels of competition within the industry can help inform business decisions about whether it makes sense for a new entrant to join in.

Threat of Substitutes

Michael Porter’s 5 forces model is a great way to analyze an industry and assess the competitive environment. The fifth force, the threat of substitutes, looks at how feasible it is for a customer to switch to an alternative product. This can be a powerful force in an industry, so let’s dive deep into how to assess the threat of substitutes properly.

Analyze the threat of substitute products

The threat of substitute products is one of the five forces in Michael Porter’s Five Forces model. This force is used to measure the intensity of competitive rivalry within an industry. The greater the intensity, the more competitors want to gain market share and capture higher profits. Substitutes can be either directly or indirectly competitive with an organization’s offerings.

Direct substitutes are products and services that are similar in function, convenience and price that can replace a company’s offering. Examples of direct substitutes include retail stores where customers have a wide range of options available, such as clothing stores or restaurants where customers have many choices within their price range and desired type of food offered.

Indirect substitutes are those that offer similar functionality to a product or service but do not directly compete with it on price and convenience factors. For example, if you own a hotel, there are many indirect substitutes such as bed-and-breakfasts, hostels, vacation rental units and Airbnbs, all competing for potential customers who may otherwise stay at your hotel instead. Additionally, indirect competition could come from other forms of recreation, entertainment or leisure activities that may attract potential customers away from hotels altogether.

Organizations must monitor trends related to both direct and indirect competitors in order to properly assess the threat of substitute products for their business offerings. Companies can look at macroeconomic patterns that could be influencing customer decisions; analyze customer behavior; evaluate competitor pricing levels; assess legal changes around product categories; and consider new technologies that may present themselves over time as new forms of competition for existing offerings.

Identify the impact of substitute products on your business

Understanding the impact that substitute products can have on your business is an important part of undertaking a Porter’s 5 Forces analysis. These substitutes may be more preferred by customers, which can cause prices and profits to fall; or they may be better suited to specific situations, thereby eroding your potential customer base.

Substitute products (or services) give customers an alternative to purchasing your product or service. Examples of substitute products may include generic brands, hand-crafted solutions, services provided free by local government, homegrown solutions or services offered by competitors in a different industry segment. They typically come with different features and costs than what you offer and can range from “close substitutes” to “distant substitutes” based on how closely related they are to your own product or service.

The impact of substitute products (or services) will vary depending on how easy it is for a customer to switch between them. If customers easily switch between two products for the same purpose then it will be more difficult for any supplier (including you) to increase sales volumes or charging higher prices for their individual offerings; if there is no easy option for switching then suppliers will have an increased ability to adjust their pricing models as required. The risk posed by this type of substitution also varies from one market segment to another – some industries are naturally highly susceptible while others are less so – but it generally pays to assume at least some level of risk whenever analyzing markets within your industry sector.

It also pays dividends in terms of being prepared with relevant strategies which could include:

  • Diversification (such as branching out into adjacent markets)
  • Creating products that offer superior features over alternatives (such as quality assurance guarantees)
  • Presenting better pricing options than competitors
  • Taking advantage new technology opportunities
  • Partnering with other firms who don’t directly compete with you but offer unique value propositions themselves.

Taking proactive steps like these ahead of time can help ensure that you remain competitive even when faced with potential threats from substitute products outside your normal scope of operations.


Michael Porter’s 5 Forces is a powerful tool for understanding the competitive environment in which a company or industry operates. By understanding the strength of each of the five forces, you can gain insights into the overall market landscape and identify potential opportunities or threats.

This article has highlighted the key points and takeaways from the 5 Forces model, drawing on real-life examples. Now it is time to review the conclusion of the article and summarize the key points:

  • The five forces model is a powerful tool for understanding the competitive environment.
  • It helps identify potential opportunities and threats.
  • It can be used to assess the overall market landscape.
  • Real-life examples can be used to illustrate the key points.

Summary of Porter’s 5 forces

Michael Porter’s Five Forces model is a model used to analyze the competitive environment of an industry. This model consists of five distinct forces that shape an industry by influencing competition, market structure and pricing strategies. The five forces are threat of new entrants, bargaining power of buyers, bargaining power of suppliers, intensity of rivalry and threat of substitute products or services.

  • Threat of New Entrants: Potential entry from new companies into a particular industry can affect the overall competition and structure within the industry; new entrants have the potential to add additional capacity, shift demand and target segments from more established competitors in the market.
  • Bargaining Power Of Buyers: This refers to the strength or leverage individual buyers have in making purchasing decisions that affect an industry’s total output and demand for services or products. If buyers are able to dictate their own prices due to strong buying power, they will reduce profitability within the industry.
  • Bargaining Power Of Suppliers: This force is determined by how easily suppliers can decrease access to raw materials and necessary resources for businesses within a given industry. By controlling pricing or supplying limited amounts of materials, suppliers can effectively drive up prices in an industry as well as reduce competition among other businesses.
  • Intensity Of Rivalry: Companies compete fiercely with one another trying to get ahead in terms of pricing strategies and innovation offerings. This phenomenon increases when there are multiple medium-sized companies offering similar services or products with little differentiation amongst them; firms must then use price-cutting measures like discounting in order to gain customers away from their competitors in order survive in such a situation.
  • Threat Of Substitutes: Products classified as substitutes are alternatives that offer consumers similar satisfaction at lower costs; as cost levels rise, customers will naturally switch over towards cheaper options available elsewhere thus reducing demand for costly products that can no longer be justified by value received from them which reduces overall revenue within an industry accordingly.

Benefits of using Porter’s 5 forces

Using Michael Porter’s five forces, businesses can assess and analyze their competitive position within their industry. By understanding the competitive landscape, and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of competitors, businesses can strive to strengthen their competitive position by formulating competitive strategies.

The framework provides insights into how businesses can drive profits higher. It helps managers identify factors that are influencing the strength of competition, determine if there is an advantage to be gained from a change in conditions, and develop strategies tailored to a company’s unique situation in order to find a competitive advantage. The five forces model is useful for assessing new business opportunities as well as existing ones so that strategies can be adjusted accordingly to capitalize on market conditions.

Some of the benefits of using Porter’s Five Forces include:

  • Being able identify current/potential competitive threats
  • Analyzing customer bargaining power and supplier power
  • Assessing how strong an organization’s competitive position is
  • Identifying entry and exit barriers in the marketplace
  • Understanding supplier’s pricing rules & customer loyalty
  • Knowing customers’ information preferences & requirements

By considering these factors, companies can make more strategic decisions about the nature of their business activities and effectively develop plans for improved performance in the marketplace.