HomeBlog3 Complete SWOT Analysis Examples to Learn From

3 Complete SWOT Analysis Examples to Learn From

Author: Gordon Donnelly
Last Updated: June 18, 2024 | Business Planning & Strategy

If you’re in the mindset of analyzing where your business fits into your competitive landscape, you’ve probably heard of a SWOT analysis. Running a SWOT analysis allows business owners and leaders to take a frank look at their operations and determine the strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats that they face in their niche.

Because if you don’t know what you do well, and what you don’t, how is it possible to grow and get better? It’s this question that a SWOT analysis seeks to answer, and it does so by providing a simple framework by which business owners can assess and optimize.

Let’s walk through a quick primer on what exactly a SWOT analysis is, and how to complete one effectively. Then, we’ll give a rundown of three SWOT analysis examples that you can use to see this powerful framework in action.

Contents

What is a SWOT analysis?

As mentioned, a SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats facing a business. SWOT analyses can also be undertaken for individual projects and decision-making processes, but for the sake of this post, we’ll stick with the broader, more popular definition.

swot analysis chart

To put it succinctly, a SWOT analysis provides a structured framework for understanding both internal and external factors that can impact the success or failure of your business. Strengths and weaknesses are internal. Opportunities and threats? These are external. Here’s how each of these components are typically defined:

Strengths: Internal attributes and resources that give an organization an advantage over others in achieving its objectives. These include things like skilled personnel, strong brand reputation, powerful technology, and efficient processes.

Weaknesses: Internal factors that hinder an organization’s performance or competitiveness. These could include lack of resources, outdated technology, poor management practices, or inefficient processes.

Opportunities: External factors or situations that an organization can exploit to its advantage. These include things like emerging markets, product innovation, changes in consumer preferences, or favorable regulatory changes.

Threats: External factors that could potentially cause trouble for the organization. These include things like increased competition, economic downturns, changing market trends, or regulatory challenges.

Ultimately, the goal of the SWOT analysis is to make it easier for business owners and stakeholders to make informed decisions and create effective strategies to achieve their goals and win more business.

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SWOT analysis examples

Now that we’ve established a working definition of SWOT analysis, let’s dive into some examples. As we’re walking through each example, think about how you can use the information in the example to inform your own self-analysis.

SWOT analysis example #1: Disney

disney swot analysis example chart

Strengths

  1. Robust cash flow. Disney has always boasted formidable cash flows, enabling the company to diversify investments across various sectors. With a consistent flow of $5 billion plus, this financial stability relieves pressures on business operators and stakeholders.
  2. Expansive suite of networks. Disney’s suite of networks is nothing short of impressive, encompassing a wide array of renowned brands. From Miramax and ABC to ESPN, Starwave, Pixar, Marvel, and beyond, this portfolio amplifies revenue streams and fortifies their market presence.

chart of disney's networks for swot analysis

Disney’s impressive suite of networks.

  1. Prestigious brand value. Disney’s brand is iconic and instantly recognizable. Whether it’s a movie or merchandise, the presence of Walt Disney Studios or Company symbolizes trust, recognition, and creativity.

Weaknesses

  1. Reputational challenges. Disney has grappled with allegations of racism and workplace safety issues in recent years, tarnishing its once-spotless reputation. Over 700 Walt Disney World performers lodged complaints about unsafe working conditions, prompting backlash when Disney retaliated against their demands for testing and safety protocols.
  2. Untimely product innovation. Disney’s product development team has struggled to anticipate and capitalize on emerging trends, resulting in missed opportunities compared to competitors. While other companies swiftly respond to consumer demand with targeted campaigns, Disney has faltered in seizing such opportunities, hampering its ability to stay ahead in the market.

disney streaming share chart as part of swot analysis

Disney+ has made strides, but still lags behind Netflix because Disney was late to the streaming game.

  1. Challenging acquisitions. While acquisitions often spur growth, some can burden a company with long-term financial challenges. Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox, though initially promising, has weighed heavily on its profitability.

Opportunities

  1. Global expansion. With its unparalleled brand recognition, Disney holds a special place in the hearts of many, making it a prime choice for businesses seeking effective branding strategies. Teaming up with Disney can offer significant advantages and opportunities for marketing and promotion.
  2. New theme parks worldwide. Beyond its presence in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Paris, and Shanghai, Disney has the potential to capitalize on emerging markets by establishing new theme parks. Expanding into economies with a burgeoning middle class and improving economic conditions presents a ripe opportunity for further growth and revenue generation.

walt disney world and land locations across the world

  1. Expanding Disney+. Disney+ has rapidly gained traction, generating substantial revenue. By strategically expanding Disney+ into both developed and emerging markets, Disney could transform the streaming service into a multi-billion-dollar powerhouse.

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Threats

  1. Increase in piracy. The surge in piracy, fueled by customers’ desire for specific content rather than bundled offerings, poses a significant threat to Disney’s revenue and profitability. The widespread adoption of streaming services like Disney+ has intensified this issue, with peer-to-peer sharing making it easier for pirates to take advantage.
  2. Tighter regulations. The US Justice Department’s proposed revisions to regulations, such as the Consent Decree, could reshape the landscape between Hollywood studios and movie theaters. This shift has the potential to dismantle the advantage enjoyed by major production houses like Disney.
  3. High expense toll. Disney’s longstanding commitment to investing heavily in its workforce, employee development, and training has been a hallmark of its operations. However, with salary wages on a constant upward trajectory, Disney’s profits stand to take a serious hit.

3 takeaways from Disney’s SWOT analysis

Here are our top three takeaways from Disney’s swot analysis.

  1. Maximize financial stability: Take a cue from Disney’s robust cash flow and prioritize financial stability. Ensure consistent cash flow to diversify investments and weather uncertain economies.
  2. Cultivate brand value: Learn from Disney’s iconic brand value and invest in brand-building efforts. Foster trust and recognition among your customers through consistent branding and storytelling that resonates with your audience.
  3. Embrace innovation: Disney’s challenges with product innovation underscore the importance of staying agile and responsive to market trends. Foster a culture of innovation within your organization and prioritize continuous improvement to meet the needs of your customers.

By leveraging these lessons, you can enhance your business ops, capitalize on opportunities, and drive sustainable growth.

SWOT analysis #2: McDonald’s

mcdonalds swot analysis example chart

Strengths

  1. Brand equity. McDonald’s is a dominant brand, and its golden arches are iconic. Its effective marketing campaigns have ingrained their logo and staple menu items, such as the Big Mac and fries, into the global consciousness.

mcdonald logos

A logo that every American knows.

  1. Technological prowess. McDonald’s remains at the forefront of technological innovation. From self-service kiosks that streamline ordering and payment processes, to impressive drive-through efficiency, McDonald’s consistently offers innovative solutions to its customers.
  2. Global presence. McDonald’s expansive global footprint is a testament to its widespread success. With restaurants in over 120 countries and a staggering 41,800 locations worldwide as of 2024, McDonald’s has achieved unparalleled reach and penetration.

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Weaknesses

  1. Employee satisfaction. Dissatisfaction among McDonald’s franchise employees regarding wages has been a persistent issue. Many feel that their hours of hard work are not adequately compensated. Moreover, since franchisees operate independently, wage disparities exist across locations. In response to this criticism, McDonald’s has pledged to address the wage disparity issue across all its restaurants by 2024.
  2. The food concern. While McDonald’s enjoys widespread popularity due to its taste and convenience, it’s undeniable that fast food poses health risks. Its food is laden with excess calories and lacks essential nutritional value, contributing to obesity, particularly among children and teenagers. Given McDonald’s significant market share, it becomes a major contributor to the obesity epidemic.

supersize me documentary represents threats to mcdonalds

Documentaries like Super Size Me brought to light McDonald’s contribution to obesity in America.

  1. Business model. McDonald’s franchising strategy, while instrumental in global expansion, presents inherent challenges. Franchise ownership makes it challenging to maintain consistent operational standards across locations, leading to variations in quality and customer experience. Consequently, the brand’s performance may fluctuate between regions and even within the same country.

Opportunities

  1. Business expansion. McDonald’s, currently spanning more than 120 countries, aims to achieve a global presence, and has the blueprint to reach every corner of the globe.
  2. Menu evolution. McDonald’s has the opportunity to overcome a key weakness by expanding its menu offerings. Embracing the trend towards healthy alternatives, like organic and fresh menu items, would cater to health-conscious consumers seeking better lifestyle choices.
  3. Sports sponsorship. McDonald’s consistently and strategically aligns with the excitement and passion of sports fans. McDonald’s recent move to become the new title sponsor for the French Ligue 1, for instance, shows its commitment to engaging sports enthusiasts and expanding brand visibility on a global scale.

mcdonalds all-american game showing mcdonalds sports sponsorships

The McDonald’s All-American Game.

Threats

  1. Emerging consumer preferences. In the dynamic landscape of consumer trends, adaptability is paramount for business survival. With a growing inclination towards clean and healthy eating habits, fast-food giants like McDonald’s face the challenge of staying relevant amidst shifting preferences. As more individuals opt for cleaner alternatives over traditional junk food, the fast-food industry could undergo significant transformation in the coming years.
  2. Competition dynamics. While McDonald’s currently reigns supreme in the fast-food industry, the landscape is far from devoid of formidable competition. Direct rivals like Burger King and Wendy’s engage in relentless marketing battles, offering similar fare of fries and burgers to entice customers. Moreover, indirect competitors such as KFC and Chipotle pose additional challenges, catering to varied tastes within the fast-food realm.

mcdonalds market share chart

While McDonald’s still enjoys huge market share, competition is ever-lurking. 

  1. Economic uncertainty. The broader economic climate plays a significant role in shaping consumer behavior, particularly in discretionary spending. Economic downturns pose a tangible threat to fast-food sales volumes, as consumers tighten their belts and reduce dining out expenditures.

3 key takeaways from McDonald’s SWOT analysis

  1. Invest in technological innovation. Stay at the forefront of technological advancements by implementing innovations to keep your customers happy.
  2. Address employee satisfaction. Acknowledge and resolve dissatisfaction among your employees to ensure morale and retention.
  3. Adapt to shifting consumer preferences. The needs of your customers are inevitably going to shift. You need to make sure your product suite can adapt with them.

SWOT analysis #3: Google

google swot analysis example chart

Strengths

  1. Position as search engine market leader. Google’s dominance in the search engine realm is unparalleled, commanding an estimated 91% market share globally, with even higher figures in certain regions like Europe. This commanding position not only attracts a vast array of advertisers and partners but also grants Google access to invaluable user data, fueling continuous improvement in search algorithms and user experience.
  2. Huge user base. Google’s strength lies in its extensive user base, providing a wealth of data for insights into user behavior and emerging trends. This robust market position enables Google to deliver highly relevant search results, enhancing the overall user experience.

google market share chart

  1. Culture of product development. Renowned for its innovative culture, Google fosters an environment that encourages experimentation and the pursuit of new ideas. This commitment to innovation distinguishes Google from its competitors and drives its ongoing success.

Weaknesses

  1. Revenue vulnerability. Google’s disproportionate reliance on advertising revenue, constituting over 80% of its total income, has fueled immense financial success. However, this heavy dependence also exposes the company to significant vulnerabilities. Heightened competition for ad revenue, compounded by the entry of new market players, threatens Google’s future financial stability.

chart of google revenue streams

  1. Privacy policy backlash. Despite offering a diverse array of services reliant on consumer data, Google has encountered substantial backlash over its privacy policies. Particularly concerning internet search practices, consumer concerns about data collection and transparency have eroded trust and prompted a shift towards platforms with more robust privacy policies. Despite Google’s efforts to address these concerns through new privacy features, lingering skepticism poses a significant threat to its ability to retain and attract users.
  2. Android ecosystem limitations. Despite commanding a significant market share with its Android operating system, Google faces constraints in controlling the devices utilizing this platform. These limitations, including restricted access to hardware features and challenges in uninstalling pre-installed applications, hinder Google’s ability to optimize user experience and innovation within the Android ecosystem.

Opportunities

  1. Cloud computing. Despite Google’s trailing position behind industry giants like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, cloud computing presents a significant growth opportunity. Businesses increasingly shift their IT infrastructure to cloud platforms, with spending reaching closing in on $100 billion. Google stands poised to capitalize on this expanding market, leveraging its resources to bolster its market share and compete more effectively.

google cloud computing capabilities

  1. Virtual reality ventures. The artificial reality and virtual reality (AR and VR) market offer immense potential for Google’s investment. With user numbers expected to soar to 2.5 billion by 2027, Google remains well-positioned to enhance its VR offerings and establish a stronger presence in this evolving sector.
  2. Revolution in AI. The emergence of AI-driven chat responses like ChatGPT has captivated global attention since late 2022, reshaping online interactions and posing a challenge to established players like Google. Competitors like Microsoft have swiftly entered the arena and established dominance. These developments underscore the vast potential in AI and machine learning, offering Google numerous opportunities for success.

Threats

  1. Market disruption by emerging competitors. The ascent of emerging technologies challenges Google’s market dominance, making strategic responses crucial. For instance, Google’s market response to ChatGPT’s emergence led to significant market value losses. Furthermore, in online advertising, platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Amazon offer targeted use cases for advertisers, intensifying competition.
  2. Persistent legal battles and privacy concerns. Despite its stature, Google faces a barrage of lawsuits, exposing it to financial and reputational risks. While some lawsuits may lack merit, others, particularly intellectual property claims, can result in significant damages. Google’s privacy policies, including data collection and usage practices, have drawn criticism, undermining user trust and brand reputation.

google privacy controls

Google has had to double-down on Privacy to help assuage consumer concerns.

  1. Competitive dynamics within Alphabet Inc. As one of the world’s largest conglomerates, Alphabet Inc faces intense competition across diverse sectors, including search, entertainment, autonomous vehicles, and cloud computing. Competitors like Bing and DuckDuckGo challenge Google in search, while platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Vimeo compete in the entertainment space. This intense competition places pressure on Google to continually innovate, and diminishes its bargaining power in negotiations with partners and stakeholders.

3 key takeaways from Google’s SWOT analysis

  1. Leverage market leadership. As a business owner, you can emulate Google’s success by focusing on thought and product leadership in your industry.
  2. Diversify revenue streams: Over-reliance on one source of revenue can really leave you open and vulnerable. Make sure you diversify revenue streams to mitigate risk.
  3. Embrace emerging technologies. Always stay abreast of technological trends in your industry, and invest in emerging technologies when necessary.

Know who you are; know where you are going

That about does it. Now that you’ve seen three poignant examples in action, you can take what you’ve learned and start formulating your own SWOT analyses (here are some SWOT analysis templates to help you get started!)–either on your business as a whole, on a go-to-market strategy, product, or any other aspect of your business.

Business owners that take this critical step in self-examination inevitably gain a leg up on their competitors and learn how to optimize for growth. Don’t fall behind! Once you understand your strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities, you’ll be well on your way to increased dominance in your vertical.

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Meet The Author

Gordon Donnelly

Gordon Donnelly is an SEO jedi who proudly honed his chops at WordStream for 5+ years. Today, you’ll find him at home in Boston, building Triple Whale’s world-class e-commerce analytics platform, or helping businesses of all sizes grow through SEO, advertising, and content marketing.

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