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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tools for the toolbox,The BCG matrix or help on how to decide on future paths


The BCG matrix (The Boston Consulting Group)


The BCG matrix (aka B.C.G. analysis, B.C.G.-matrix, Boston Box, Boston Consulting Group analysis) is a chart that had been created by Bruce Henderson for the Boston Consulting Group in 1970 to help corporations with analyzing their business units or product lines. This helps the company allocate resources and is used as an analytical tool in brand marketing, product management, strategic management and portfolio-analysis.



To use the chart, analysts plot a scatter graph to rank the business units (or products) on the basis of their relative market shares and growth rates.


Cash cows are units with high market share in a slow-growing industry. These units typically generate cash in excess of the amount of cash needed to maintain the business. They are regarded as staid and boring, in a "mature" market, and every corporation would be thrilled to own as many as possible. They are to be "milked" continuously with as little investment as possible, since such investment would be wasted in an industry with low growth.


Dogs, or more charitably called pets, are units with low market share in a mature, slow-growing industry. These units typically "break even", generating barely enough cash to maintain the business's market share. Though owning a break-even unit provides the social benefit of providing jobs and possible synergies that assist other business units, from an accounting point of view such a unit is worthless, not generating cash for the company. They depress a profitable company's return on assets ratio, used by many investors to judge how well a company is being managed. Dogs, it is thought, should be sold off.


Question marks are growing rapidly and thus consume large amounts of cash, but because they have low market shares they do not generate much cash. The result is a large net cash consumption. A question mark (also known as a "problem child") has the potential to gain market share and become a star, and eventually a cash cow when the market growth slows. If the question mark does not succeed in becoming the market leader, then after perhaps years of cash consumption it will degenerate into a dog when the market growth declines. Question marks must be analyzed carefully in order to determine whether they are worth the investment required to grow market share.


Stars are units with a high market share in a fast-growing industry. The hope is that stars become the next cash cows. Sustaining the business unit's market leadership may require extra cash, but this is worthwhile if that's what it takes for the unit to remain a leader. When growth slows, stars become cash cows if they have been able to maintain their category leadership, or they move from brief stardom to dogdom.
As a particular industry matures and its growth slows, all business units become either cash cows or dogs.


The overall goal of this ranking was to help corporate analysts decide which of their business units to fund, and how much; and which units to sell. Managers were supposed to gain perspective from this analysis that allowed them to plan with confidence to use money generated by the cash cows to fund the stars and, possibly, the question marks. As the BCG stated in 1970.Only a diversified company with a balanced portfolio can use its strengths to truly capitalize on its growth opportunities.


The balanced portfolio has:
stars whose high share and high growth assure the future;
cash cows that supply funds for that future growth; and
question marks to be converted into stars with the added funds.
Slainte Gordon
with some help from my friends at Wiki


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