Porter Generic Strategies

Porter Generic Strategies

Michael Porter has described a category scheme consisting of three general types of strategies that are commonly used by businesses to achieve and maintain competitive advantage. These three generic strategies are defined along two dimensions: strategic scope and strategic strength. Strategic scope is a demand-side dimension (Michael E. Porter was originally an engineer, then an economist before he specialized in strategy) and looks at the size and composition of the market you intend to target. Strategic strength is a supply-side dimension and looks at the strength or core competency of the firm. In particular he identified two competencies that he felt were most important: product differentiation and product cost (efficiency).

He originally ranked each of the three dimensions (level of differentiation, relative product cost, and scope of target market) as either low, medium, or high, and juxtaposed them in a three dimensional matrix. That is, the category scheme was displayed as a 3 by 3 by 3 cube. But most of the 27 combinations were not viable.

In his 1980 classic Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analysing Industries and Competitors, Porter simplifies the scheme by reducing it down to the three best strategies. They are cost leadership, differentiation, and market segmentation (or focus). Market segmentation is narrow in scope while both cost leadership and differentiation are relatively broad in market scope.

Empirical research on the profit impact of marketing strategy indicated that firms with a high market share were often quite profitable, but so were many firms with low market share. The least profitable firms were those with moderate market share. This was sometimes referred to as the hole in the middle problem. Porter’s explanation of this is that firms with high market share were successful because they pursued a cost leadership strategy and firms with low market share were successful because they used market segmentation to focus on a small but profitable market niche. Firms in the middle were less profitable because they did not have a viable generic strategy.

Porter suggested combining multiple strategies is successful in only one case. Combining a market segmentation strategy with a product differentiation strategy was seen as an effective way of matching a firm’s product strategy (supply side) to the characteristics of your target market segments (demand side). But combinations like cost leadership with product differentiation were seen as hard (but not impossible) to implement due to the potential for conflict between cost minimization and the additional cost of value-added differentiation.

Since that time, empirical research has indicated companies pursuing both differentiation and low-cost strategies may be more successful than companies pursuing only one strategy.

Some commentators have made a distinction between cost leadership, that is, low cost strategies, and best cost strategies. They claim that a low cost strategy is rarely able to provide a sustainable competitive advantage. In most cases firms end up in price wars. Instead, they claim a best cost strategy is preferred. This involves providing the best value for a relatively low price.

Read more about Porter Generic Strategies:  Cost Leadership Strategy, Differentiation Strategy, Focus or Strategic Scope, Recent Developments, Criticisms of Generic Strategies

Other articles related to "porter generic strategies, generic strategies, porter, strategies":

Porter Generic Strategies - Criticisms of Generic Strategies
... Several commentators have questioned the use of generic strategies claiming they lack specificity, lack flexibility, and are limiting ... Porter stressed the idea that only one strategy should be adopted by a firm and failure to do so will result in “stuck in the middle” scenario ... He claims that there is a viable middle ground between strategies ...

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