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What is Michael Porter's Industry Analysis model?

by Dan Power

Prof. Michael Porter identified 5 Forces that impact the profitability of an Industry in his classic book (1980) on Competitive Strategy.

5 Forces Industry Analysis Model (1980)

- Create barriers to entry
- Absolute cost advantages
- Proprietary learning curve
- Access to inputs
- Government policy
- Economies of scale
- Capital requirements
- Brand identity
- Switching costs
- Access to distribution
- Expected retaliation
- Proprietary products
- Supplier concentration
- Importance of sales to
- Differentiation of inputs
- Switching costs for firms
in the industry
- Presence of alternate inputs
- Threat of forward integration
- Cost relative to total
purchases by industry
- Exit barriers
- Industry concentration
- Fixed costs/Value added
- Industry growth
- Overcapacity
- Product differences
- Switching costs
- Brand identity
- Wealth of rivals
- Corporate interest
- Bargaining leverage
- Buyer volume
- Buyer knowledge
- Brand identity
- Price sensitivity
- Threat of backward integration
- Product differentiation
- Buyer concentration vs. industry
- Substitutes available
- Buyers' incentives

- Switching costs
- Buyer inclined to
- Price-performance
trade-off of substitutes
- Industry profits

There is always the possibility that new firms may enter an industry. This is called the threat of entry in Porter's model. In theory, any firm should be able to enter and exit a market, and if free entry and exit exists, then profits always should be average. In reality, however, some industries possess characteristics that protect the high profit levels of firms currently in the market and make it difficult for additional firms to enter the market. These characteristics are barriers to entry.

When industry profits increase, one expects additional firms to enter the market to take advantage of the high profit levels, over time driving down profits for all firms in the industry. When profits decrease, one would expect some firms to exit the market thus restoring a market equilibrium. Falling prices, or the expectation that future prices will fall, deters rivals from entering a market.

It is easy to enter an Industry if there is:

  • Common technology
  • Limited brand strength
  • Access to distribution channels
  • A low production scale threshold

It is difficult to enter if there is:

  • Patented or proprietary know-how
  • Difficulty in brand switching
  • Restricted distribution channels
  • A high production scale threshold

It is easy to exit an Industry if there are:

  • Salable assets
  • Low exit costs
  • Independent business units

It is difficult to exit if there are:

  • Specialized assets
  • High exit costs
  • Interrelated businesses

In Porter's model, substitute products refer to products in other industries that meet the same/similar need. To an economist, a threat of substitutes exists when a product's demand is affected by the price change of a substitute product.

The power of buyers is the impact that customers have on a producing industry. In general, when buyer power is strong, the relationship to the producing industry is near to what an economist terms a monopsony - a market in which there are many suppliers and one buyer. Under such market conditions, the buyer sets the price. In reality few pure monopsonies exist, but frequently there is some asymmetry between a producing industry and buyers.

Suppliers can exert an influence on the producing industry, such as selling raw materials at a high price to capture some of the industry's profits. This describes supplier power.

If rivalry among firms in an industry is low, the industry is considered to be disciplined. This discipline may result from the industry's history of competition, the role of a leading firm, or informal compliance with a generally understood code of conduct. Explicit collusion generally is illegal and not an option; in low-rivalry industries competitive moves must be constrained informally. However, a maverick firm seeking a competitive advantage can displace the otherwise disciplined market.

In pursuing an advantage over its rivals, a firm can choose from several competitive moves:

  • Changing prices - raising or lowering prices to gain a temporary advantage.
  • Improving product differentiation - improving features, implementing innovations in the manufacturing process and in the product itself.
  • Creatively using channels of distribution - using vertical integration or using a distribution channel that is novel to the industry.
  • Exploiting relationships with suppliers.


Porter, Michael E., Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors, 1980.

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