Boston Consulting Group Matrix
BCG matrix (or growth-share matrix) is a corporate planning tool for business or project or product, which is used to portray a firm’s brand portfolio or SBUs on a quadrant along the relative market share axis (horizontal axis) and speed of market growth (vertical axis) axis.
Can also be used as a marketing audit tool
A growth-share matrix is a business tool, which uses relative market share and industry growth rate factors to evaluate the potential of a business brand portfolio and suggest further investment strategies.
Understanding the tool
BCG matrix is a framework created by Boston Consulting Group to evaluate the strategic position of the business brand portfolio and its potential. It classifies a business portfolio into four categories based on industry attractiveness (growth rate of that industry) and competitive position (relative market share). These two dimensions reveal the likely profitability of the business portfolio in terms of cash needed to support that unit and cash generated by it. The general purpose of the analysis is to help understand, which brands the firm should invest in and which ones should be divested.
Relative market share. One of the dimensions used to evaluate a business portfolio is relative market share. Higher corporate market share results in higher cash returns. This is because a firm produces more, benefits from higher economies of scale and experience curve, which results in higher profits. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that some firms may experience the same benefits with lower production outputs and lower market share.
Market growth rate. A high market growth rate means higher earnings and sometimes profits but it also consumes lots of cash, which is used as an investment to stimulate further growth. Therefore, business units that operate in rapid growth industries are cash users and are worth investing in only when they are expected to grow or maintain market share in the future.
There are four quadrants into which firms brands are classified:
Dogs. Dogs hold a low market share compared to competitors and operate in a slowly growing market. In general, they are not worth investing in because they generate low or negative cash returns. But this is not always the truth. However, Some dogs may be profitable for a long period of time, they may provide synergies for other brands or SBUs or simply act as a defense to counter competitors’ moves. Therefore, it is always important to perform a deeper analysis of each brand or SBU to make sure they are not worth investing in or have to be divested.
Strategic choices: Retrenchment, divestiture, liquidation
Cash cows. Cash cows are the most profitable brands and should be “milked” to provide as much cash as possible. The cash gained from “cows” should be invested into stars to support their further growth. According to the growth-share matrix, corporates should not invest in cash cows to induce growth but only to support them so they can maintain their current market share. Again, this is not always the truth. However, Cash cows are usually large corporations or Small businesses that are capable of innovating new products or processes, which may become new stars. If there would be no support for cash cows, they would not be capable of such innovations.
Strategic choices: Product development, diversification, divestiture, retrenchment
Stars. Stars operate in high-growth industries and maintain a high market share. Stars are both cash generators and cash users. They are the primary units in which the company should invest its money because stars are expected to become cash cows and generate positive cash flows. Yet, not all stars become cash flows. This is especially true in rapidly changing industries, where new innovative products can soon be outcompeted by new technological advancements, so a star instead of becoming a cash cow, becomes a dog.
Strategic choices: Vertical integration, horizontal integration, market penetration, market development, product development
Question marks. Question marks are the brands that require much closer consideration and attention. They hold a low market share in fast-growing markets, consuming large amounts of cash and incurring losses. It has the potential to gain market share and become a star, which would later become a cash cow. Question marks However do not always succeed and even after a large number of investments they struggle to gain market share and eventually become dogs. Therefore, they require very close consideration to decide if they are worth investing in or not.
Strategic choices: Market penetration, market development, product development, divestiture