Analysis of the BCG matrix – the matrix reflects the contribution of the products or business units to its cash flow. Based on this analysis, the products or business units are classified as –
ii) Cash cows
iii) Question marks
i) Stars – high growth, high market share
Stars are products that enjoy a relatively high market share in a strongly growing market. They are potentially profitable and may grow further to become an important product or category for the company. The firm should focus on and invest in these products or business units. The general features of stars are –
- High growth rate means they need heavy investment
- High market share means they have economies of scale and generate large amount of cash
- But they need more cash than they generate
The high growth rate will mean that they will need heavy investment and will therefore be cash users. Overall, the general strategy is to take cash from the cash cows to fund stars. Cash may also be invested selectively in some problem children (question marks) to turn them into stars. The other problem children may be milked or even sold to provide funds elsewhere.
Over the time, all growth may slow down and the stars may eventually become cash cows. If they cannot hold market share, they may even become dogs.
ii) Cash Cows – Low growth, high market share
These are the product areas that have high relative market shares but exist in low-growth markets. The business is mature and it is assumed that lower levels of investment will be required. On this basis, it is therefore likely that they will be able to generate both cash and profits. Such profits could then be transferred to support the stars. The general features of cash cows are –
- They generate both cash and profits
- The business is mature and needs lower levels of investment
- Profits are transferred to support stars/question marks
- The danger is that cash cows may become under-supported and begin to lose their market
Although the market is no longer growing, the cash cows may have a relatively high market share and bring in healthy profits. No efforts or investments are necessary to maintain the status quo. Cash cows may however ultimately become dogs if they lose the market share.
iii) Question Marks – high growth, low market share
Question marks are also called problem children or wild cats. These are products with low relative market shares in high growth markets. The high market growth means that considerable investment may still be required and the low market share will mean that such products will have difficulty in generating substantial cash. These businesses are called question marks because the organization must decide whether to strengthen them or to sell them.
The general features of question marks are –
- Their cash needs are high
- But their cash generation is low
- Organization must decide whether to strengthen them or sell them
Although their market share is relatively small, the market for question marks is growing rapidly. Investments to create growth may yield big results in the future, though this is far from certain. Further investigation into how and where to invest is advised.
iv) Dogs – Low growth, low market share
These are products that have low market shares in low growth businesses. These products will need low investment but they are unlikely to be major profit earners. In practice, they may actually absorb cash required to hold their position. They are often regarded as unattractive for the long term and recommended for disposal. The general features of dogs are –
- They are not profit earners
- They absorb cash
- They are unattractive and are often recommended for disposal.
Turnaround can be one of the strategies to pursue because many dogs have bounced back and become viable and profitable after asset and cost reduction. The suggested strategy is to drop or divest the dogs when they are not profitable. If profitable, do not invest, but make the best out of its current value. This may even mean selling the division’s operations.
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