Broad Factors Analysis, commonly called the PEST Analysis, is a key component of external analysis. A Broad Factors Analysis assesses and summarizes the four macro-environmental factors — political, economic, socio-demographic (social), and technological. The factors exert a significant effect on a business’s operating environment, posing opportunities and threats to the company and all of its competitors.
Broad Factors Analysis is widely used in strategic analysis and planning because it helps companies determine the risks and opportunities in the marketplace. That, in turn, becomes an important consideration when companies are developing corporate and business strategies.
Political factors are factors within the regulatory environment of a particular industry or business.
Examples of political factors include:
Barriers to international trade
Changes in government regulation
Country-specific political risk
Political factors in the macro-environment can constrain the operations of organizations and introduce opportunities and threats to companies. When a company chooses which industries to enter or which countries to expand their operations into, it might want to consider the complication of government regulatory policies in that specific industry or country and the associated risks.
Economic factors are things that influence the macroeconomy, such as:
Foreign exchange rates
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rates
Each of these factors can have various impacts on businesses. For example, interest rates affect the cost of capital and a company’s ability to raise funds or invest in new assets. Low exchange rates reduce threats from foreign competitors and create overseas opportunities. When inflation happens, it destabilizes the economy and makes the future less predictable for companies. Lastly, the high growth rate of an economy increases customer expenditures and eases competitive pressures.
Socio-Demographic (Social) Factors
Socio-demographic factors are short for social and demographic factors, which concern population demographics and the characteristics of a company’s target customers.
Examples of social-demographic factors include:
Health consciousness and trends
Nature and the environment
Age cohort changes
Changing social morals and values can impact the business of an entire industry because they shift consumer preferences and demand for products/services. For example, if a majority of the popularity perceives smoking as an activity that is harmful to physical health, then demand for cigarettes and tobacco could significantly decline and, thus, impact the profitability of those businesses.
Technological factors have become increasingly important for many businesses in recent years due to the prevalence of information technology and mobile devices.
Some examples of technological factors include:
Research & development (R&D) investment
Diffusion of technologies
These technological factors affect the height of the barrier to entry of an industry and reshape the industry structure.
Broad Factors Analysis helps a company arrive at an understanding of the net potential impact of these factors on a business, and the overall attractiveness, opportunities, and threats that exist for the company in a given market.
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