Sample Marketing Paper on Analysis of Walt Disney Company Marketing Strategy

Analysis of Walt Disney Company Marketing Strategy

Executive Summary

Walt Disney Company is a household name that has been in the entertainment industry for a long time and is known for some of its famous shows include Snow White, Star Wars, and Marvel films. This report provides a detailed analysis of Walt Disney’s marketing strategy, focusing on different aspects that constitute this strategy. The first section of the report provides the background of the company, including its mission and vision. The second section is the situation analysis section that discusses Walt Disney’s macro and micro environment using PESTLE-, SWOT, and competitor analysis. This section is then followed by an analysis of Disney’s marketing mix which incorporates the 4P’s including product, pricing, placement, and promotion. The last section is the recommendation section which proposes strategic approaches that Walt Disney Company can integrate in its operation to gain a competitive advantage.

 

 

Introduction

Company Background

            The Walt Disney Company was established by two brothers, Walt and Roy Disney, in 1924. Walt Disney is a multinational Corporation that has heavily invested in the entertainment industry. Among Walt Disney’s many divisions are theme parks and resorts, television networks, consumer goods, live-action productions, as well as online and interactive media (Carillo et al., 2012). Burbank, California, is home to the corporate headquarters for the organisation. In 2019, Disney was listed the fourth place under Fortune 500 companies globally. Since the debut of its first animated short, Steamboat Willie in 1928, the Disney Brothers Studio became a major participant in the animation industry which helped launch Walt Disney’s career as an icon. Seven Dwarves and Snow White, two critically acclaimed and commercially successful feature-length animated films released by the studio in 1937, marked yet another significant milestone for the business (Nobre et al., 2020). The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest American Films of All Time included only one animated film in its history: Snow White. This success was a key pillar towards the success of Walt Disney in the entertainment industry.

After thriving in the entertainment niche, the company started venturing into different segments including the introduction of theme parks. The world’s first theme park, Disneyland, opened in Anaheim, California, in 1955. In 1983, the firm launched its first international theme park in Tokyo, making it one of the first companies to do so. The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, first welcomed guests in 1971 (Bullet, 2015). Disney’s acquisition of significant companies in the entertainment industry set out its success. Some of the companies that Walt Disney acquired included 21st Century Fox, Marvel, Pixar, and Lucasfilm (Calandro, 2010). All these acquisitions contributed significantly towards the company’s success in the entertainment industry.

Company Mission and Vision

            Basically, Walt Disney’s mission and vision are mainly to be a leader, both in business and industry. Walt Disney Company considers itself as the largest media company globally. Thus, Walt Disney is always looking for new ways to use cutting-edge technology and expand into new areas in order to create fresh and exciting content. Serving a global customer base requires that the company comes up with innovative strategies and creative products to maintain its market dominance and satisfy customer needs. According to Carillo et al. (2012), the company’s official website, its mission and vision statement is, “To be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world.Technically, that statement is a creative combination of its mission and vision statements.

Situation Analysis

PESTLE Analysis

Political

The first crucial factor of the political environment to analyse is the current level of political discontent felt by the inhabitants of the United States as a whole for numerous reasons. This adds to a substantial level of anxiety among U.S. people, which also generates unease in one’s social sphere, investments, and commercial decisions. All of these elements strongly impact a company’s introduction of a new product. Additionally, the heightened amount of uncertainty that now surrounds global commerce is of great worry for the organisation. The current attitude toward trade is excessively ambiguous, making it difficult for business to make important choices, which will surely severely effect growth over the future years (Yao, 2017). Nonetheless, if the United States begins a trade war with a country like China, it will severely affect the goods and services given by every worldwide corporation. A U.S./China trade war may also lead to price hikes, diminishing earnings, investor anxieties and withdrawals, and, worst case scenario, the likelihood of an actual conflict. All of these possibilities would severely influence any global firm, and there are certain issues serious enough that even Disney is not immune to the political economy’s consequences.

Economic

Low unemployment and rising consumer confidence in the US currency are the current economic trends in the United States. The U.S is seeing some of the lowest unemployment rates in recent history, with the current figure at 3.7% as of 2018. The economy has grown steadily, salaries have risen, and consumer confidence has increased in the recent past. However, it is believed that there will be significant consequences for investment and commerce from the ongoing trade war with China. Experts also expected that the stock market would go into bear market mode by the end of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic (Nobre et al., 2020). This would be incredibly disheartening for customers who are now experiencing the best level of economic stability in years. The streaming industry, as well as the rest of business, might be significantly impacted by this. With the introduction of Disney+, Walt Disney is expected to see a growth in its revenue due to increase subscription and streaming from the platform.

Social

Walt Disney mostly works in the entertainment business, focusing on the creation of entertainment-related material. Additionally, the corporation runs amusement parks based on the plots and characters from its films. The leisure and amusement-related items must meet the needs of the customers. Customers’ tastes and preferences must be taken into consideration while delivering items to the company’s target market (Yao, 2017). According to the company’s content and theme parks, social influences have a significant impact on content creation and management of the company. There are rides and other amusements for individuals of all ages among the theme park’s attractions. Changing economic conditions influence consumer spending, and Walt Disney has had to deal with decreasing revenues when individuals cut down on their expenditures as a result (Yao, 2017). Theme parks and licensed items were hit worse than the company’s other offerings, such as its interactive games. Walt Disney is able to expand its client base by attracting visitors from across the world, allowing it to earn more money than it would have otherwise, despite the fact that the majority of its visitors are from the United States.

Technological

The entertainment and amusement industry’s development and expansion is strongly influenced by technical advancements in the contemporary world. Newer versions of technology need to be rapidly integrated into the media entertainment sector so that content may be produced to satisfy customer demand while also providing a high level of quality to a target demographic that is hungry for this type of material. Entertainment content providers have to begin providing the Blu-ray version as soon as Blu-ray was introduced. A further example of Walt Disney’s integration into technological changes is the company’s move into interactive and mobile gaming. In addition, the Walt Disney World resort has to include the newest technology in order to give consumers with an upgraded and high-quality experience. The emergence of social media as a method of contacting the target market has also resulted in substantial developments in the technology domain. Customers of Walt-Disney may stay up to speed on the latest corporate news by following them on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Legal

The laws and regulations governing the entertainment and amusement business are strict. Laws of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) controls Walt Disney’s content which is vital to its functioning. Children’s movies must comply to high quality standards that restrict the insertion of any inappropriate content. A fine of up to$325,000 can be imposed for each incidence of obscene content aired on television. Commercial breaks during young audience broadcasts are similarly monitored by FCC under its guidelines. Copyright and intellectual property rules are other legal considerations that may have an impact on the entertainment business. Walt Disney’s macro-environment is further shaped by the taxes structure put on the sector.

Environmental

The company’s licenced product production and theme park administration are guided by environmental protection rules. For the sake of the environment, Disney’s theme parks incorporate recycling and repurposing into its waste management strategies (Yao, 2017). As a result, the corporation has taken measures to conserve energy and to make the theme parks more environmentally friendly in response to the demands of the environmental protection agency. The environmental stewardship initiative, for example, aims to gain support from environmental groups. The Walt-Disney theme parks, meanwhile, have implemented energy-saving measures.

SWOT Analysis

            Strengths

            Brand Image – The Disney name is well-known across the world, thanks in part to its long history of cartoons and, more recently, feature films. Its theme parks are among of the greatest in the world, and it is one of the world’s leading entertainment organisations. When customers have connected with the company, they have always been satisfied, and in some cases, they’ve been blown away. Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm have all helped Disney’s overall brand growth, as has ESPN (Calandro, 2010). In 2016, London-based Brand Finance named Disney the world’s strongest brand, while in 2018, Forbes rated Disney eighth on its list of the world’s most valuable brands.

Financial Performance – In addition to a healthy financial sheet, Disney is able to generate a consistent cashflow throughout the years. Both sales and net income have grown considerable in the past decade thanks to its effective financial management practices. Since 2007, Disney’s management has grown dividend distributions by an average of 17% every year, making it one of the most shareholder-friendly companies.

Diversification – Each of Disney’s several business groups is doing well: media networks, theme parks and resorts; studio entertainment; consumer goods; and interactive media. Movies, particularly Star Wars, helped the company make a sizable profit. Disney’s Consumer Products division has reaped the rewards of the massive success of Star Wars and Marvel.

            Weaknesses

            Product Demand Scaling – Disney has missed out on multiple opportunities compared to its rivals since its product designers lack the ability to predict the “next great thing.” Campaigns of relevance are launched whenever there is an urgent need, and firms take advantage of this opportunity. Walt Disney, on the other hand, ignores such possibilities.

Vulnerability to Competition – Lack of advertising and promotion might leave Disney susceptible to competition. Ads are only shown when a new film or toy is being introduced in the market, otherwise, most marketing is still done through visual means, mostly through cross-promotion. This provides an opportunity for its competitors to conduct marketing which influence their market share.

            Opportunities

            Streaming – Disney+ has the potential to displace existing family-purchased streaming services. Disney+ may be a better match for families than existing streaming choices because it is less priced and includes more family-friendly content. Netflix (which offers a kids’ profile option) and Hulu both have kid-friendly content; however, no other major streaming service is completely family-friendly at this time. For families that are already using another streaming service, Disney has a unique value proposition that it can use to entice new customers.

High prices by competitiors – Netflix’s new pricing hike presents another chance for Disney+. Prior to the 18 percent price rise, Disney+ was already being touted as less costly than Netflix (Siegal, 2018). The timing of this news could not have been more favourable for Disney. Just as people are getting aware of Disney+, they are also becoming dissatisfied with the price rise of the most widely used subscription programme. This might be a simple method to persuade Netflix consumers who are ordinarily happy to transfer to another streaming service.

            Threats

            Fierce Competition – Every time a platform’s unique content gets better, it attracts more and more devoted users. Automated payments allow customers to forget they are paying a monthly fee for services and instead treat them as an everyday part of their lives. Due to their familiarity with their existing platform, long-term subscribers of one of these competing platforms may be less likely to contemplate switching. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon’s streaming platforms will have to compete with Disney+ since it may need some users to have the reason to switch services.

Isolation of the U.S. Market – Most of Disney’s administration is seeking to back out of foreign contracts because of the numerous concerns that still need to be resolved between the United States and other nations. Disney is dependent on its international partners for its success. If Disney’s manufactures are located outside of the United States, they may be under pressure to make enough money if the isolation phase continues.

Competitor Analysis

            The competition market of Disney is segmented into different niches where the company has successfully been able to segment its operations.

            Movie Market

In contrast to Netflix’s decline in streaming market share, Disney’s market share in the movie business is steadily increasing. Disney has nearly quadrupled its share of the movie industry since 2014, according to Statista, and Disney now owns numerous other studios, including 21st Century Fox, which Disney acquired in early 2019 as a result of multiple large purchases (Lian, 2020). The “six majors” of Hollywood — Disney, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures, Paramount, and Sony Columbia — have dominated Hollywood distribution for decades. Regulatory clearance for Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox was announced in March 2019. As a result of Disney’s acquisition of Fox’s 11.56 percent market share as well as the 16.23 percent Disney had controlled before to the Fox merger, the company currently owns up to 27.79 percent of the movie market, longer-running than the second-placed Warner Brothers (Lian, 2020). In the film market, Disney mostly releases commercial films, such as the Avengers series, resulting in Disney never winning Oscar favour. The Shape of Water, 12 Years a Slave, Birdman, and Slumdog Millionaire were all produced by 20th Century Fox, which has since been bought by Disney. As a result, Fox surpasses Warner Bros., Universal, and Paramount as the studio with the most Oscars won since the turn of the century.

            Streaming Media

When it comes to streaming, Netflix has long been the undisputed kingpin. Netflix has a 37 percent market share, while YouTube has a 21 percent share, according to ComScore, a well-known Internet statistics business (Alexander, 2018). In 2018, Netflix had a share of more than 40%, which suggests that more and more individuals are abandoning Netflix in favour of rival streaming services like Disney+ and Hulu (Sturgill, 2019). There have been more than 50 million subscribers in just four months to Disney Plus, a subscription video-on-demand streaming service that was introduced on November 12, 2019 by the Walt Disney Company (Lian, 2020). This includes all of the Disney princesses, Animated 3 Classics and Star Wars films, as well as all of the Pixar studios movies and all of Marvel’s superhero series and the 30 seasons of the Simpsons. Furthermore, Disney+ has the Titanic, Avatar, and Alien in its kitty as well. People have to recognise that there is no technological business that can equal the content treasure homes’ degree of quality. Hulu, which came in third after Netflix and YouTube, was also purchased by Disney. Hulu used to be a joint venture between a number of media companies, but following the Disney and Fox merger, things changed. When Hulu and Disney+ are fully integrated, there will be no more streaming competitors that can compete with Walt Disney.

            Theme Parks

Even while Disney may face competition in the streaming media and film industries, it remains unbeatable in the amusement park sector. The Walt Disney Company’s annual revenue for the fiscal year 2019 was US $69.57 billion, up 17.1 percent from the previous year, while theme park revenue was over $26.23 billion, accounting for 37.7 percent of the total income (Lian, 2020). After the first park in California, six others have opened across the world, including Paris, Florida, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Hong Kong’s Disneyland. Universal Studios Hollywood is the only real threat to Disneyland. Only four Universal Studios theme parks exist globally, which is way below Disneyland’s six. As a result, visitors to Universal Studios Hollywood are less likely than those to visit Disneyland.

Marketing Mix

            Product development, price strategy, and promotion strategy are just a few examples of marketing tactics. These strategies, when utilised well, helps the brand prosper. Marketing strategies such as Walt Disney’s marketing mix assist a brand or organisation get a competitive advantage in the marketplace and accomplish its stated business objectives (Dess, McNamara & Eisner, 2016). Walt Disney’s marketing mix is based on the 4P’s; product, pricing, place, and promotion.

Product Strategy  

The Walt Disney Studio, the production arm of The Walt Disney Company, is the company’s most well-known brand name. Cartoons and movies are the most common products (Williams, 2019). However, the company’s product strategy does not end there since it includes everything from movies to theme parks to children’s toys to retail and television as well. Characters such as Minnie Mouse, Mickey Mouse, and Donald Duck, are all part of Disney’s products (Prevot & Hsieh, 2012). The company has also created a slew of beloved childhood including The Jungle Book, Snow White, Aladdin, and countless others. Disney’s goal has always been to provide its clients with the best possible service and a truly magical experience. Because to the studio’s constant effort and hard work, it has gained a large following. There are also the theme parks as a result of this. Around the world, there are six different theme parks. Disney’s most successful theme park, Disneyland, has all of Walt Disney’s beloved characters, as well as some of the company’s most popular attractions (Williams, 2019). Another major product for the company is its Disney stores. These businesses sell products based on Disney characters, including toys, clothing, and watches. Last but not least, Disney has developed the Disney Media Networks, which is a larger company. As a member of this collection of media outlets that include ABC radio as well as the online organisations and stations that make up ESPN (Alvarez, 2018). They also use social media and internet marketing as part of their approach. As early as 1996, Disney entered the Internet business and has seen its portion of the market rise tremendously ever since.

Pricing Strategy

The Walt Disney Company’s price approach has always been meant to appeal to a wide audience. When it comes to Disney’s pricing approach, it is all based on the type of product or service they are selling. Affordability of toys and theme park tickets outweighs capital expenditures in the entertainment industry. It is their major goal to bring all of the children and their parents together to enjoy Walt Disney’s services (Nobre et al., 2020). As a result, they set their prices such that everyone can afford to buy and use their goods. Specifically, the company targets the middle-class households since it makes for the largest portion of the population. Another thing to keep in mind is that they price their items according to the season. Disneyland tickets are easily accessible, and many individuals do so on a regular basis (Williams, 2019). It is the experience that sets it apart from the competition. The COVID-19 pandemic, on the other hand, had an impact on theme park pricing, leading to a reevaluation of business methods.

Place Strategy

Disney store have been integrated nearly all over the world. The stores may be found in large retail centres and malls. They are strategically situated in a way that customers can see them clearly. Then there are their theme parks, which may be found across different regions throughout the world. Families visiting these resorts and theme parks may buy Disney products with ease at the Disney shops located on-site. Theme parks and resorts make up the majority of Disney’s revenue. The brand’s merchandise, toys, and other products are now selling online in greater numbers than ever before thanks to the proliferation of ecommerce platforms (Williams, 2019). Disney Cruise Line, a fleet of four ships including the Disney Magic, Disney Dream, Disney Wonder, and Disney Fantasy, was also created by the company. Two more ships will be built by 2023, as well. There is a comprehensive training programme at Disney University for those who work at these resorts and theme parks to ensure that the services offered as to-quality.

Promotion Strategy

As a household name, Walt Disney does not require any sort of advertising. In spite of this, Walt Disney’s aggressive and concentrated marketing and promotional approach is a big success. As a result of these activities, customers are able to interact with the brand on a more personal level. People anxiously await the release of Disney films or the purchase of tickets to Disneyland. Customers might easily be enticed to Disneyland by the many packages that are offered. Their own channels are also used to market their items. Taglines like “where dreams come true” and “the happiest location on earth” are common in Walt Disney’s promotional messages (Nobre et al., 2020). Customers become emotionally linked to these slogans and become enthused about visiting these destinations. It is common for them to collaborate with firms like Sephora, who provide a wide range of items. Aside from traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, their products may be purchased through a variety of online retailers.

Recommendations

Currently, Walt Disney is operating on a competitive strategy that puts it at risk of fierce competition from its rivals. However, risk can be reduced through the implementation of an alternative strategy. Cricelli and Grimaldi (2010) it is Disney’s primary strategy for competition, to buy out the company’s competitors. However, Block (2015) went on to explain that Disney’s most reliable revenue stream is the entertainment industry, which funnels money to all of the company’s other divisions and departments. The majority of Disney’s acquisitions have been in the entertainment industry. As Block (2015) noted, cost-cutting is Disney’s overall strategy. Strategic thinking must take into account that the competition may reject Disney’s buyout offer if it comes from a rival. As such, it is recommended that Disney maximizes on its cash cow, entertainment, to grow its revenues.

Focusing on its entertainment segment can reinforce the company’s branding and positioning across its markets. There is evidence in the form of statistics to support the claim made by Muzellec, Kanitz, and Lynn (2013) that the inclusion of a scene from a well-known location in a film encourages viewers to seek out that same location themselves. According to the findings of Banjo (2013), viewers are more aware of the stereotypes that are portrayed by characters from their own group while watching media with an audience that includes members of both their own and other groups rather than just members of their own. There is a strong correlation between how a show is marketed to a particular demographic and whether or not people are influenced by it. With this in mind, it becomes clear that the Walt Disney company could use organisational knowledge and soft systems data modelling to vary entertainment pieces so that the content encourages consumption of other Disney sectors and discourages attention to the competitor.

Another recommendation that Disney should consider is maximizing on the feedback that it gets from its customers which is crucial for influencing customer satisfaction. Disney has the capacity to gather external data from a wide array of platforms, including blogs and social media posts. Data management and analytics are a priority for Disney. As such, it is recommended that Disney integrates a semiotic system which will help the company enhance its public image, thus, creating a strong brand image that will knock out its competitors (Krogstie, 2015). This new system must be able to cross-compare external and internal data sources in order to find semiotic patterns, their orientations, and what other possibilities there are for redirection. When it comes to information systems for organisational learning, Disney can consider using an experimental approach (Malekpour et al., 2016). External stakeholders, such as investors, potential customers, and people of the community can be incorporated because of their influence on the outcome, while gathering information. Walt Disney can consider knowledge sharing practices with its allied organizations which has the potential of improving creativity and increasing the chances of securing a contract with external firms (Bagheri, Hamidizadeh & Sabbagh, 2015). The construction of early warning systems is the primary purpose for collecting external data. External data must be tracked for early warning systems and modelling purposes in order to adopt this competitive strategy based on the prevailing market trends.

Conclusion

            In summary, since its founding in 1924, the Walt Disney Company has remained relatively competitive in its industries, boasting to be a leader both in business and industry. The external environment of the company is relative accommodating it, ranging from political stability, economic, growth and technological development. However, factors such as stringent regulatory laws, tough economic times, and fierce competition are not favourable. Yet, the company has remained at the top of its diverse markets both in entertainment (movie market), theme parks and amusement, and streaming market with the introduction of Disney+. The main products offered by the company include movies, cartoon, and merchandise which can be found across its Disney stores, online platforms, and on-site in Disney theme and amusement parks. However, the company can improve its competitive advantage by incorporating knowledge management and integration of semiotic systems.

 

Reference List

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Appendix

Walt Disney Company SWOT Matrix

Strengths Weaknesses
v Brand image

v Financial performance

v Diversification

v Product demand scaling

v Vulnerability to competition

Opportunities Threats

 

v Streaming market

v High prices by competitors

v Fierce competition

v Isolation of the U.S. market