A SWOT analysis is a method used in business planning. It is a summary of the company’s current situation. The strengths and weaknesses of a company are identified, along with the opportunities and threats in its environment. The SWOT analysis allows the current state and future potential of the company to be evaluated. If the strengths and opportunities outweigh the weaknesses and threats, the company is in a good position. SWOT analyses can also be used to build strategies for the future by considering how weaknesses can be turned into strengths, and how threats can be turned into opportunities.
Richard Clarke of Chartwell Financial Services Ltd. described to Business Link UK how the performance of a SWOT analysis helped his business. The company, which provides independent financial consultancy services, came under new management in 2002. Since then, the business has been systematically planning its future, with SWOT analyses playing a key role.
The new management conducted a SWOT analysis after they purchased the company. They wanted to know precisely what they were entering into. They analysed all aspects of the business including the finances, clients, competitors, and market. Clarke indicated that the analysis helped them create their strategy for the company’s future. They found ways of creating strengths and opportunities out of weaknesses and threats. They realised, for example, that the overhaul of legislature concerning pensions, which at first it appeared to be a threat, was in fact an opportunity because clients would need more advice to see them through the changes.
Clarke points out that a SWOT analysis is a snapshot of the company’s current position. The analysis needs to be repeated as things change. Three SWOT analyses were conducted at Chartwell in the first year alone. They used each analysis to set their next goals, each with a specified timescale.
The Time 100 reports that a SWOT analysis of the car manufacturer, Skoda, found that they had an excellent and well-liked product, but they only had a small percentage of the UK market.
The analysis included surveys of Skoda customers and an assessment of its place in the market. Skoda owners were found to be satisfied with their cars, but the company had only a 1.7 per cent market share. The brand was found to be perceived as outdated, although Skoda was no longer seen as producing poor copies of competitor’s cars. The SWOT analysis showed that Skoda needed to build its brand in order to grow its market share. They capitalised on this opportunity by creating a new advertising campaign, focusing on the positive feedback that they had received from customers, and then launched a marketing campaign based on the happy customer experience. This campaign allowed Skoda to compete against its rivals by making itself stand out.
A SWOT analysis of the home furnishings chain IKEA was also described by the Times 100. The analysis highlighted IKEA’s commitment to sustainability and waste reduction as a major strength. The IKEA brand and their key concept of offering good quality products at affordable prices are also key strengths. The need to keep production costs down could also be viewed as a weakness; however, the growing market for green and sustainable products was identified as an opportunity that they should capitalise on. The current state of the economy is seen as a threat to IKEA’s success, but their low prices were expected to help them turn this threat into an opportunity.