Consumer Perceptions, SWOT and PEST Analysis

Consumer Perceptions, SWOT Analysis,
PEST Analysis
Consumer Perceptions
Recall last week’s lesson on markets and segments. Knowing who your target market is and what
segments can be found within that market are crucial to the success and sustainability of a project.
Knowing what segment of the market is being targeted makes it easier to identify consumer needs
and consumer wants.
Consumer needs are goods or services that people purchase or use because they solve a problem
(either real or perceived). For example, a person going to the grocery store because they are
completely out of food is a need that comes from a real problem. On the other hand, a person going
out to a restaurant to eat because there is “no food at the house” is most likely a “need” that likely
comes not from a true problem, but from a perceived one (i.e., (there’s nothing in the house that
they’re in the mood to eat).
Consumer wants are the specific goods or services that people purchase or partake in not because
the good or service is necessitated, but because it is desirable. For example, the person going to the
grocery store needs food. They may choose to go to Giant Eagle because they want selection or
because it is close to them and they want the convenience of not having to travel far. Or, they may
choose to go to the local farmer’s market because they want organic goods or because they want to
support local food production. Another example is someone going to a restaurant: they may choose to
go to an expensive, sit-down establishment because they want a steak dinner or because they like the
atmosphere or want to be formally served. Or they may choose to go to the nearest McDonald’s
because they want an inexpensive meal or because they want something that’s quickly available and
You can see how the concepts of consumer needs and consumer wants are related. Consumer needs
stem from the market itself (in this example, the market for people who are looking to purchase food).
Consumer wants are associated with the different types of audience segments (in this example, there
are different segments of people who make their choices based on product offerings, convenience,
cost, time and so on).
People choose to purchase or partake in certain general goods (such as food) or services (such as
health care) because those goods or services satisfy a real or perceived need. When there are many
available options, they choose specific types of goods or services based on their specific wants. Wants
are often dictated by consumer perceptions – the value that consumers perceive in a good or
As part of the media-based product that you have chosen to create, you should keep in mind the
needs and wants of your target audience. This will help your chosen client best achieve the overall
goal it needs to reach to address its particular problem or opportunity.
How can you be sure to design your media product/s in a way that achieves your client’s goals while
also expressing value to your desired audience? You need to have an awareness of your client and
likely consumer perceptions about them—the good, the bad, the potential positive and negative. In
fact, to be truly effective for your organization/company (aka “client”), you need to understand the
organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats or challenges in terms of its overall
goal and its desired audience.
SWOT Analysis
A brief illustration of this concept, using the project example “Create a comprehensive promotional
plan for the WV Black Bears minor league baseball team,” follows below:
● Goal: Generate social media “buzz” about the team to increase awareness and
ultimately increase ticket sales.
● Possible positive/strength: The Black Bears are a new team with a new,
award-winning ball park, so the publicity already received may make their name
readily recognizable.
● Possible negative/weakness: Consumers may see mentions of the team on social
media but perceive no personal value in sharing it with their own networks.
● Possible opportunities: May include ways to counter the negative above through
developing engaging social media content such as contests, interactivity, or
personalized appeals.
● Possible threats/challenges: Social media messages can be fleeting and there is a
lot of competition/”noise”
The items above represent the beginning of a SWOT analysis. Of course, you will want to conduct
some research prior to developing your analysis. You might conduct secondary research by using
Lexis-Nexis and/or Google to see if you can find articles about your “client” or the industry and
determine if recent coverage has been positive, negative or neutral. You can do the same with the
organization’s social media. You may also want to look at the Census data for the region to learn
about age breakdowns, family size, and educational and income levels. You may also want to research
generational use of different social media, how people use them and why, through Google, Google
Scholar and/or trade publications via the WVU libraries. (Remember that you will need to cite
references for any research you use to develop your communications plan and ultimate media
You might also conduct informal primary research by observing people at that organization/company
(if possible), interviewing an employee there, or asking people who are like the desired audience what
they know about the organization, how they feel about it and its products, and whether or not they
have purchased/participated in or would purchase/participate in their products/services and then
asking them why or why not.
PEST Analysis
In addition to understanding likely SWOTs around a particular organizational goal, it’s also important
as a communications professional to consider the larger external environment in which the
organization operates. Specifically, one should consider the political, economic, social and
technological environment relative to the company’s goals. Such an examination, known as a PEST
analysis, might look like this for our Black Bears example above:
Political environment: Although we are coming off of an election year, politics likely will not be a
factor in the Black Bears desire to create more awareness about the team via social media, with the
ultimate goal to sell more tickets. (However, it may be good to note that the ball park was constructed
with public funding and is shared with WVU. It is possible there could be some resentment by
residents who are not baseball fans about this use of public monies.)
Economic environment: Although relatively strong in the Morgantown area, the greater economy is
somewhat weak. Therefore, the audience must believe that the Black Bears experience provides a
good value for their discretionary entertainment dollars.
Social environment: There are a lot of possible activities in the Morgantown area and a lot of
transient residents, such as students who may be here for a few years and then leave and new
students continually joining the community.
Technological environment: The Morgantown area has a lot of well educated residents who have
access to and use technology.
As you develop your SWOT and PEST analyses for your client/organization relative to its overall goal,
remember to list all of the items you can think of for each part of the analysis. (Most plans will list
items in their SWOT and PEST analyses in abbreviated form—rather than full sentences—by using
SWOT Analysis & PEST Analysis: Walk-through and
SWOT Analysis – Example: Starbucks
● High market penetration
● Accessibility (coffee shops everywhere; availability in grocery stores)
● Financially stable company
● High brand recognition
● Positive consumer perception (e.g., a cup with their logo used as a social status
● Partnership with Barnes & Noble
● More expensive brand
● Low level of marketing and advertising to consumers
● Dependency on the success of a single market (coffee)
● Not fully established in other markets (e.g., flavored coffee market)
● Expand the 30 oz. Trenta size to hot drinks (currently only available for cold drinks)
● Grow the market for subsidiary brand Seattle’s Best (often marketed as a “blue
collar” coffee, with Starbucks being more of a “white collar” coffee)
● Create another subsidiary that’s more affordable to capture price-sensitive
● Promote the ambient store environment; consistent store design
● High threat of direct substitutes (other coffees: Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, Tim
● High threat of indirect substitutes (other caffeinated beverages: tea, energy drinks,
● Low barrier-to-entry for new competitors
PEST Analysis
● Political environment examples:
○ Laws and regulations
○ Contracts and agreements
○ Trade tariffs
○ Pressure groups
○ Wage legislation
○ Product label requirements
● Economic environment examples:
○ Inflation
○ Employment rates
○ Company growth
○ Globalization
● Social environment examples:
○ Demographics
○ Cultural perceptions
○ Ethical issues
○ Behaviors, lifestyles, attitudes, trends
● Technological environment examples:
○ Emerging technologies
○ R&D efforts
○ Automation
○ Methods of online communication
PEST Analysis – Example: Starbucks
PEST analysis looks at external OPPORTUNITIES and THREATS
Political Environment
● Threat: Laws and taxes involved with product sourcing from other countries
● Threat: “Controversial” issues, such as the 2015 holiday season cup
● Opportunity: Favorable treatment of employees
Economic Environment
● Threat: Level of discretionary consumer income affecting product affordability
● Opportunity: Consistent market demand for coffee
● Opportunity: International market expansion
Social Environment
● Opportunity: Viewed as a “trendy” coffee
● Opportunity: Ethical sourcing of coffee beans
● Opportunity: Recyclable products
● Threat: Change in consumer preferences
● Threat: Increased consumer concerns about health affects
● Opportunity or Threat: “White collar” coffee perception
Technological Environment
● Threat: Convenient at-home brewing (Keurig machines)
● Opportunity: Starbucks app; virtual Starbucks members card
● Opportunity: Consumer engagement through social media

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