Financial modelling terms explained

Porter'S Five Forces Model

Uncover the power of Porter's Five Forces Model and gain a comprehensive understanding of financial modeling terms in this insightful article.

The Porter's Five Forces Model is a strategic tool used to analyse the competitive environment within an industry. This model, developed by Michael E. Porter, a professor at Harvard Business School, helps businesses understand the strength of their current competitive position, and the strength of a position they are considering moving into.

Understanding the Porter's Five Forces Model

The model is based on the concept that there are five forces that determine the competitive intensity and attractiveness of a market. These forces are: competition in the industry, potential of new entrants into the industry, power of suppliers, power of customers, and the threat of substitute products.

Understanding these forces helps a business identify where it stands in the market and what it needs to do to gain a competitive edge. This understanding is crucial for effective strategic planning.

Competition in the Industry

The first force looks at the number of competitors in the industry and their ability to undercut a company. A larger number of competitors, along with equivalent products and services, can reduce market attractiveness.

Companies must understand their competitors' strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge can help them create strategies that take advantage of their competitors' weak points, and improve their own business performance.

Potential of New Entrants into the Industry

The second force considers the potential of new businesses entering the industry. If it is easy for new companies to enter the market, a company's position can be significantly weakened. An industry with high entry barriers is attractive for those within it, as it limits competition.

Factors that can limit the threat of new entrants are patents, high investment requirement, lack of distribution channels, and government regulations. A company should strive to create high entry barriers to protect its position in the market.

Power of Suppliers

The third force assesses how easy it is for suppliers to drive up prices. This is driven by the number of suppliers of each key input, the uniqueness of their product or service, their strength and control over the company, the cost of switching from one supplier to another, and so on.

If a company is reliant on a supplier for key inputs, that supplier holds significant power. Companies can manage this risk by diversifying their supplier base.

Power of Customers

The fourth force looks at the impact of customers on pricing. Customers hold power in this model if they have leverage over the businesses and can demand discounts and better service.

Companies can reduce the bargaining power of customers by building strong brand loyalty and offering unique products.

Threat of Substitute Products

The fifth force considers the likelihood of customers finding a different way of doing what your product does. The availability of substitute products can reduce market attractiveness and profitability. Companies can counter this threat by offering better quality products and improving customer service.

Substitute products that deserve the most attention are those that are subject to trends improving their price-performance trade-off with the industry's product.

Applying the Porter's Five Forces Model

Applying the Porter's Five Forces Model requires a detailed understanding of the specific industry and market. The model should be used as a starting point to identify the forces influencing competition, then a detailed analysis should be conducted to identify the specific factors at work.

The model can be used to compare the impact of competitive forces on the company itself with their impact on competitors. This comparative analysis can reveal the company's competitive strengths and weaknesses and can show how the company can take advantage of changes in the competitive environment.

Benefits of Using the Model

The Porter's Five Forces Model is a simple but powerful tool for understanding where power lies in a business situation. It can help businesses to not only stay competitive, but to evolve and increase profitability over time.

By understanding the forces at play in the competitive environment, companies can develop strategies to influence each force to their advantage.

Limitations of the Model

While the Porter's Five Forces Model is a useful tool, it does have limitations. It may not capture all relevant factors that could impact a company's competitive position. For example, it does not consider the impact of digital technology, global economic conditions, or government regulations.

Therefore, while it's a good starting point, it should not be used in isolation. It should be used in conjunction with other business analysis tools and frameworks to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the competitive landscape.


The Porter's Five Forces Model is a valuable tool in the strategic analysis of any industry. It provides a clear and concise framework for understanding the balance of power in a situation and for identifying opportunities and threats. While it has its limitations, when used alongside other strategic tools, it can provide valuable insights that can help a company gain a competitive edge.

Understanding and applying the Porter's Five Forces Model in financial modelling and strategic planning can help businesses identify potential threats and opportunities, and formulate strategies to become more competitive in the market.

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