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Saint Gobain (SGOB) SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / MBA Resources

Introduction to SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix for Saint Gobain (Germany)


Based on various researches at Oak Spring University , Saint Gobain is operating in a macro-environment that has been destablized by – increasing commodity prices, increasing government debt because of Covid-19 spendings, customer relationship management is fast transforming because of increasing concerns over data privacy, banking and financial system is disrupted by Bitcoin and other crypto currencies, digital marketing is dominated by two big players Facebook and Google, there is backlash against globalization, wage bills are increasing, there is increasing trade war between United States & China, increasing energy prices, etc



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Introduction to SWOT Analysis of Saint Gobain


SWOT stands for an organization’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats . At Oak Spring University, we believe that Saint Gobain can use SWOT analysis as a strategic management tool to assess the current internal strengths and weaknesses of the Saint Gobain, and to figure out the opportunities and threats in the macro environment – technological, environmental, political, economic, social, demographic, etc in which Saint Gobain operates in.

According to Harvard Business Review, 75% of the managers use SWOT analysis for various purposes such as – evaluating current scenario, strategic planning, new venture feasibility, personal growth goals, new market entry, Go To market strategies, portfolio management and strategic trade-off assessment, organizational restructuring, etc.




SWOT Objectives / Importance of SWOT Analysis and SWOT Matrix


SWOT analysis of Saint Gobain can be done for the following purposes –
1. Strategic planning of Saint Gobain
2. Improving business portfolio management of Saint Gobain
3. Assessing feasibility of the new initiative in Germany
4. Making a Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures sector specific business decision
5. Set goals for the organization
6. Organizational restructuring of Saint Gobain




Strengths of Saint Gobain | Internal Strategic Factors
What are Strengths in SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / Weighted SWOT Analysis

The strengths of Saint Gobain are -

Cross disciplinary teams

– Horizontal connected teams at the Saint Gobain are driving operational speed, building greater agility, and keeping the organization nimble to compete with new competitors. It helps are organization to ideate new ideas, and execute them swiftly in the marketplace.

Operational resilience

– The operational resilience strategy of Saint Gobain comprises – understanding the underlying the factors in the Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry, building diversified operations across different geographies so that disruption in one part of the world doesn’t impact the overall performance of the firm, and integrating the various business operations and processes through its digital transformation drive.

Low bargaining power of suppliers

– Suppliers of Saint Gobain in the Capital Goods sector have low bargaining power. Saint Gobain has further diversified its suppliers portfolio by building a robust supply chain across various countries. This helps Saint Gobain to manage not only supply disruptions but also source products at highly competitive prices.

Digital Transformation in Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry

- digital transformation varies from industry to industry. For Saint Gobain digital transformation journey comprises differing goals based on market maturity, customer technology acceptance, and organizational culture. Saint Gobain has successfully integrated the four key components of digital transformation – digital integration in processes, digital integration in marketing and customer relationship management, digital integration into the value chain, and using technology to explore new products and market opportunities.

Ability to recruit top talent

– Saint Gobain is one of the leading players in the Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry in Germany. It is in a position to attract the best talent available in Germany. The firm has a robust talent identification program that helps in identifying the brightest.

Learning organization

- Saint Gobain is a learning organization. It has inculcated three key characters of learning organization in its processes and operations – exploration, creativity, and expansiveness. The work place at Saint Gobain is open place that encourages instructiveness, ideation, open minded discussions, and creativity. Employees and leaders at Saint Gobain emphasize – knowledge, initiative, and innovation.

Strong track record of project management in the Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry

– Saint Gobain is known for sticking to its project targets. This enables the firm to manage – time, project costs, and have sustainable margins on the projects.

Highly skilled collaborators

– Saint Gobain has highly efficient outsourcing and offshoring strategy. It has resulted in greater operational flexibility and bringing down the costs in highly price sensitive Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry. Secondly the value chain collaborators of Saint Gobain have helped the firm to develop new products and bring them quickly to the marketplace.

Innovation driven organization

– Saint Gobain is one of the most innovative firm in Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures sector.

Training and development

– Saint Gobain has one of the best training and development program in Capital Goods industry. The effectiveness of the training programs can be measured in – employees retention, in-house promotion, loyalty, new venture initiation, lack of conflict, and high level of both employees and customer engagement.

Superior customer experience

– The customer experience strategy of Saint Gobain in Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry is based on four key concepts – personalization, simplification of complex needs, prompt response, and continuous engagement.

Organizational Resilience of Saint Gobain

– The covid-19 pandemic has put organizational resilience at the centre of everthing Saint Gobain does. Organizational resilience comprises - Financial Resilience, Operational Resilience, Technological Resilience, Organizational Resilience, Business Model Resilience, and Reputation Resilience.






Weaknesses of Saint Gobain | Internal Strategic Factors
What are Weaknesses in SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / Weighted SWOT Analysis

The weaknesses of Saint Gobain are -

Need for greater diversity

– Saint Gobain has taken concrete steps on diversity, equity, and inclusion. But the efforts so far has resulted in limited success. It needs to expand the recruitment and selection process to hire more people from the minorities and underprivileged background.

Products dominated business model

– Even though Saint Gobain has some of the most successful models in the Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry, this business model has made each new product launch extremely critical for continuous financial growth of the organization. Saint Gobain should strive to include more intangible value offerings along with its core products and services.

Workers concerns about automation

– As automation is fast increasing in the Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry, Saint Gobain needs to come up with a strategy to reduce the workers concern regarding automation. Without a clear strategy, it could lead to disruption and uncertainty within the organization.

No frontier risks strategy

– From the 10K / annual statement of Saint Gobain, it seems that company is thinking out the frontier risks that can impact Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry. But it has very little resources allocation to manage the risks emerging from events such as natural disasters, climate change, melting of permafrost, tacking the rise of artificial intelligence, opportunities and threats emerging from commercialization of space etc.

Skills based hiring in Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry

– The stress on hiring functional specialists at Saint Gobain has created an environment where the organization is dominated by functional specialists rather than management generalist. This has resulted into product oriented approach rather than marketing oriented approach or consumers oriented approach.

Compensation and incentives

– The revenue per employee of Saint Gobain is just above the Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry average. It needs to redesign the compensation structure and incentives to increase the revenue per employees. Some of the steps that it can take are – hiring more specialists on project basis, etc.

Ability to respond to the competition

– As the decision making is very deliberative at Saint Gobain, in the dynamic environment of Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry it has struggled to respond to the nimble upstart competition. Saint Gobain has reasonably good record with similar level competitors but it has struggled with new entrants taking away niches of its business.

Aligning sales with marketing

– From the outside it seems that Saint Gobain needs to have more collaboration between its sales team and marketing team. Sales professionals in the Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry have deep experience in developing customer relationships. Marketing department at Saint Gobain can leverage the sales team experience to cultivate customer relationships as Saint Gobain is planning to shift buying processes online.

Interest costs

– Compare to the competition, Saint Gobain has borrowed money from the capital market at higher rates. It needs to restructure the interest payment and costs so that it can compete better and improve profitability.

Low market penetration in new markets

– Outside its home market of Germany, Saint Gobain needs to spend more promotional, marketing, and advertising efforts to penetrate international markets.

Slow to strategic competitive environment developments

– As Saint Gobain is one of the leading players in the Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry, it takes time to assess the upcoming competitions. This has led to missing out on atleast 2-3 big opportunities in the Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry in last five years.




Saint Gobain Opportunities | External Strategic Factors
What are Opportunities in the SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / Weighted SWOT Analysis


The opportunities of Saint Gobain are -

Redefining models of collaboration and team work

– As explained in the weaknesses section, Saint Gobain is facing challenges because of the dominance of functional experts in the organization. Saint Gobain can utilize new technology in the field of Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry to build more coordinated teams and streamline operations and communications using tools such as CAD, Zoom, etc.

Using analytics as competitive advantage

– Saint Gobain has spent a significant amount of money and effort to integrate analytics and machine learning into its operations in Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures sector. This continuous investment in analytics has enabled Saint Gobain to build a competitive advantage using analytics. The analytics driven competitive advantage can help Saint Gobain to build faster Go To Market strategies, better consumer insights, developing relevant product features, and building a highly efficient supply chain.

Loyalty marketing

– Saint Gobain has focused on building a highly responsive customer relationship management platform. This platform is built on in-house data and driven by analytics and artificial intelligence. The customer analytics can help the organization to fine tune its loyalty marketing efforts, increase the wallet share of the organization, reduce wastage on mainstream advertising spending, build better pricing strategies using personalization, etc.

Buying journey improvements

– Saint Gobain can improve the customer journey of consumers in the Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry by using analytics and artificial intelligence. It can provide automated chats to help consumers solve their own problems, provide online suggestions to get maximum out of the products and services, and help consumers to build a community where they can interact with each other to develop new features and uses.

Changes in consumer behavior post Covid-19

– consumer behavior has changed in the Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry because of Covid-19 restrictions. Some of this behavior will stay once things get back to normal. Saint Gobain can take advantage of these changes in consumer behavior to build a far more efficient business model. For example consumer regular ordering of products can reduce both last mile delivery costs and market penetration costs. Saint Gobain can further use this consumer data to build better customer loyalty, provide better products and service collection, and improve the value proposition in inflationary times.

Reconfiguring business model

– The expansion of digital payment system, the bringing down of international transactions costs using Bitcoin and other blockchain based currencies, etc can help Saint Gobain to reconfigure its entire business model. For example it can used blockchain based technologies to reduce piracy of its products in the big markets such as China. Secondly it can use the popularity of e-commerce in various developing markets to build a Direct to Customer business model rather than the current Channel Heavy distribution network.

Finding new ways to collaborate

– Covid-19 has not only transformed business models of companies in Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry, but it has also influenced the consumer preferences. Saint Gobain can tie-up with other value chain partners to explore new opportunities regarding meeting customer demands and building a rewarding and engaging relationship.

Better consumer reach

– The expansion of the 5G network will help Saint Gobain to increase its market reach. Saint Gobain will be able to reach out to new customers. Secondly 5G will also provide technology framework to build new tools and products that can help more immersive consumer experience and faster consumer journey.

Learning at scale

– Online learning technologies has now opened space for Saint Gobain to conduct training and development for its employees across the world. This will result in not only reducing the cost of training but also help employees in different part of the world to integrate with the headquarter work culture, ethos, and standards.

Low interest rates

– Even though inflation is raising its head in most developed economies, Saint Gobain can still utilize the low interest rates to borrow money for capital investment. Secondly it can also use the increase of government spending in infrastructure projects to get new business.

Leveraging digital technologies

– Saint Gobain can leverage digital technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate the production process, customer analytics to get better insights into consumer behavior, realtime digital dashboards to get better sales tracking, logistics and transportation, product tracking, etc.

Building a culture of innovation

– managers at Saint Gobain can make experimentation a productive activity and build a culture of innovation using approaches such as – mining transaction data, A/B testing of websites and selling platforms, engaging potential customers over various needs, and building on small ideas in the Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry.

Manufacturing automation

– Saint Gobain can use the latest technology developments to improve its manufacturing and designing process in Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures sector. It can use CAD and 3D printing to build a quick prototype and pilot testing products. It can leverage automation using machine learning and artificial intelligence to do faster production at lowers costs, and it can leverage the growth in satellite and tracking technologies to improve inventory management, transportation, and shipping.




Threats Saint Gobain External Strategic Factors
What are Threats in the SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / Weighted SWOT Analysis


The threats of Saint Gobain are -

Capital market disruption

– During the Covid-19, Dow Jones has touched record high. The valuations of a number of companies are way beyond their existing business model potential. This can lead to capital market correction which can put a number of suppliers, collaborators, value chain partners in great financial difficulty. It will directly impact the business of Saint Gobain.

New competition

– After the dotcom bust of 2001, financial crisis of 2008-09, the business formation in US economy had declined. But in 2020 alone, there are more than 1.5 million new business applications in United States. This can lead to greater competition for Saint Gobain in the Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures sector and impact the bottomline of the organization.

Environmental challenges

– Saint Gobain needs to have a robust strategy against the disruptions arising from climate change and energy requirements. EU has identified it as key priority area and spending 30% of its 880 billion Euros European post Covid-19 recovery funds on green technology. Saint Gobain can take advantage of this fund but it will also bring new competitors in the Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry.

Easy access to finance

– Easy access to finance in Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry will also reduce the barriers to entry in the industry, thus putting downward pressure on the prices because of increasing competition. Saint Gobain can utilize it by borrowing at lower rates and invest it into research and development, capital expenditure to fortify its core competitive advantage.

Barriers of entry lowering

– As technology is more democratized, the barriers to entry to Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry are lowering. It can presents Saint Gobain with greater competitive threats in the near to medium future. Secondly it will also put downward pressure on pricing throughout the Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures sector.

Regulatory challenges

– Saint Gobain needs to prepare for regulatory challenges as consumer protection groups and other pressure groups are vigorously advocating for more regulations on big business - to reduce inequality, to create a level playing field, to product data privacy and consumer privacy, to reduce the influence of big money on democratic institutions, etc. This can lead to significant changes in the Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry regulations.

Technology disruption because of hacks, piracy etc

– The colonial pipeline illustrated, how vulnerable modern organization are to international hackers, miscreants, and disruptors. The cyber security interruption, data leaks, etc can seriously jeopardize the future growth of the organization.

Aging population

– As the populations of most advanced economies are aging, it will lead to high social security costs, higher savings among population, and lower demand for goods and services in the economy. The household savings in US, France, UK, Germany, and Japan are growing faster than predicted because of uncertainty caused by pandemic.

High dependence on third party suppliers

– Saint Gobain high dependence on third party suppliers can disrupt its processes and delivery mechanism. For example -the current troubles of car makers because of chip shortage is because the chip companies started producing chips for electronic companies rather than car manufacturers.

Stagnating economy with rate increase

– Saint Gobain can face lack of demand in the market place because of Fed actions to reduce inflation. This can lead to sluggish growth in the economy, lower demands, lower investments, higher borrowing costs, and consolidation in the Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry.

Consumer confidence and its impact on Saint Gobain demand

– There is a high probability of declining consumer confidence, given – high inflammation rate, rise of gig economy, lower job stability, increasing cost of living, higher interest rates, and aging demography. All the factors contribute to people saving higher rate of their income, resulting in lower consumer demand in Constr. - Supplies & Fixtures industry and other sectors.

Increasing wage structure of Saint Gobain

– Post Covid-19 there is a sharp increase in the wages especially in the jobs that require interaction with people. The increasing wages can put downward pressure on the margins of Saint Gobain.

Instability in the European markets

– European Union markets are facing three big challenges post Covid – expanded balance sheets, Brexit related business disruption, and aggressive Russia looking to distract the existing security mechanism. Saint Gobain will face different problems in different parts of Europe. For example it will face inflationary pressures in UK, France, and Germany, balance sheet expansion and demand challenges in Southern European countries, and geopolitical instability in the Eastern Europe.




Weighted SWOT Analysis of Saint Gobain Template, Example


Not all factors mentioned under the Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats quadrants in the SWOT Analysis are equal. Managers at Saint Gobain needs to zero down on the relative importance of each factor mentioned in the Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats quadrants. We can provide the relative importance to each factor by assigning relative weights. Weighted SWOT analysis process is a three stage process –

First stage for doing weighted SWOT analysis of Saint Gobain is to rank the strengths and weaknesses of the organization. This will help you to assess the most important strengths and weaknesses of the firm and which one of the strengths and weaknesses mentioned in the initial lists are marginal and can be left out.

Second stage for conducting weighted SWOT analysis of Saint Gobain is to give probabilities to the external strategic factors thus better understanding the opportunities and threats arising out of macro environment changes and developments.

Third stage of constructing weighted SWOT analysis of Saint Gobain to provide strategic recommendations includes – joining likelihood of external strategic factors such as opportunities and threats to the internal strategic factors – strengths and weaknesses. You should start with external factors as they will provide the direction of the overall industry. Secondly by joining probabilities with internal strategic factors can help the company not only strategic fit but also the most probably strategic trade-off that Saint Gobain needs to make to build a sustainable competitive advantage.



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