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What is an environmental analysis in marketing?

Last updated

1 April 2024

Reviewed by

Hugh Good

Marketing is a crucial component in any business. For businesses to succeed in any industry, they must be aware of various challenges, like competition, trends, new technology, and regulatory changes. 

That’s where environmental analysis comes in. It evaluates the opportunities and threats in a business environment, allowing businesses to make informed decisions. 

This article will explore environmental analysis, its purpose, and its techniques.

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What is an environmental analysis?

An environmental analysis is a strategic tool that businesses use to evaluate the internal and external factors that impact their operations. 

An analysis looks at factors like: 

  • Economic

  • Social

  • Technological

  • Legal

  • Political

This provides businesses with vital information that influences their marketing strategies.

A key factor that businesses consider in their environmental analysis is the economic climate. They look at market trends, such as changes in consumer spending habits and fluctuations in the stock market. This informs decisions about pricing, product development, and expansion.

Another important factor is social trends. Businesses need to be aware of changes in societal values and attitudes toward certain issues. For example, a beauty company may need to adjust its marketing strategy in response to the growing trend toward natural, organic products.

Technological advancements are also a crucial element in an environmental analysis. We saw the rise of e-commerce and mobile devices shift the business landscape, so it’s crucial to be aware of emerging technologies that could impact operations. 

They also need to consider how they can use technology to their advantage, such as developing new products or improving their supply chain management.

Legal and political factors are another critical consideration. Regulation changes can significantly impact businesses, particularly those operating in highly regulated industries such as healthcare or finance. 

Companies need to stay on top of legislation changes and adapt their operations accordingly.

Considering economic, social, technological, legal, and political forces means companies can make informed decisions about their marketing strategies and overall business operations.

What is the purpose of environmental analysis?

An environmental analysis primarily aims to evaluate a business's external environment to identify opportunities and threats. With this information, a business can create a roadmap with strategies that take advantage of the opportunities and mitigate the threats. 

An environmental analysis also allows businesses to remain competitive by identifying technology, consumer, and market trends.

Environmental analysis is a critical component of strategic planning. It helps businesses understand their current position in the market and identify potential risks and opportunities. Analyzing the external environment means businesses can develop effective strategies to achieve their goals and objectives.

As we mentioned earlier, businesses must consider several factors when conducting an environmental analysis:

  • Political factors may include policies and regulations that impact the business.

  • Economic factors may include inflation, interest rates, and exchange rates.

  • Social factors may include cultural norms, beliefs, and demographic trends, such as population growth and aging.

  • Technological factors may include advancements in technology and innovation. 

  • Legal factors may include laws and regulations that impact the business.

  • Environmental factors may include climate change and natural disasters.

A comprehensive understanding of the external environment can help businesses implement effective strategies to achieve their goals and objectives.

Environmental analysis techniques

Businesses can use several techniques to conduct an environmental analysis, which we can broadly categorize as quantitative and qualitative. 

Quantitative techniques involve mathematical models, surveys, and statistical methods to collect and analyze data. 

Qualitative techniques use interviews, focus groups, and expert judgment to gather opinions, attitudes, and perceptions.

Quantitative techniques

One of the most common quantitative techniques for environmental analysis is statistical analysis. Statistical analysis involves using mathematical models to analyze data and identify patterns and trends. This technique is handy for analyzing large data sets and identifying correlations between variables.

Another quantitative technique for environmental analysis is surveys. They’re a powerful tool for collecting data from many people. Businesses can conduct surveys online, over the phone, or in person. Survey data can identify trends and patterns in the external environment.

Qualitative techniques

One of the most common qualitative techniques for environmental analysis is expert interviews. Expert interviews involve gathering the opinions and perceptions of experts in a particular field. This technique is particularly useful for identifying emerging trends and potential threats.

Another qualitative technique in environmental analysis is focus groups. These involve gathering a small group of people to discuss a particular topic. The data from focus groups can identify attitudes and perceptions toward a particular product or service.

PESTLE analysis

PESTLE analysis is a commonly used technique for environmental analysis. 

PESTLE stands for: 

  • Political

  • Economic

  • Social

  • Technological

  • Legal

  • Environmental

PESTLE analysis involves delving into these factors to identify potential opportunities and threats in the external environment.

SWOT analysis

SWOT analysis is another common technique for environmental analysis. 

SWOT stands for: 

  • Strengths

  • Weaknesses

  • Opportunities

  • Threats

SWOT analysis involves identifying the strengths and weaknesses of a company and the opportunities and threats in the external environment.

Industry analysis

Industry analysis looks at the external environment of an industry. This technique is particularly useful for identifying potential opportunities and threats in the external environment. Industry analysis involves analyzing factors such as competition, market size, and market trends.

Competitor analysis

Competitor analysis involves analyzing the external environment of a company's competitors. This technique is beneficial for identifying potential threats in the external environment. Competitor analysis involves analyzing factors such as market share, product offerings, and pricing strategies.

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What is an environmental analysis example?

For instance, if a business sells environmentally friendly products, it may conduct an environmental analysis to determine how government regulations may impact its operations. 

The business may evaluate the political forces to determine whether the government intends to tighten regulations or introduce new ones. It may also investigate the legal forces to check the existing regulations related to environmental issues. 

Benefits of environmental analysis

An environmental analysis offers numerous benefits to businesses:

  • Gaining a clear understanding of their market position and strengths and weaknesses

  • Identifying emerging trends and acting before their competitors gain an edge

  • Remaining competitive by understanding the ever-changing business environment

Limitations of environmental analysis

However, it's worth noting that environmental analysis has its limitations, including: 

  • It’s impossible to predict the future with certainty, so there’s always a risk of unforeseen events affecting business operations, regardless of a detailed environmental analysis.

  • The cost and time to conduct an environmental analysis may be challenging for businesses that lack resources.


Environmental analysis is an important tool that businesses need to master. Evaluating external forces and identifying opportunities and threats means businesses can make informed decisions and remain competitive. 

While not foolproof, environmental analysis is still worth conducting to stay ahead of emerging trends and protect businesses from unforeseen events.

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