Marathon Oil SWOT Analysis / Matrix

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SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool that can be used by Marathon Oil managers to do a situational analysis of the firm . It is a handy technique to analyze the present Strengths (S), Weakness (W), Opportunities (O) & Threats (T) Marathon Oil is facing in its current business environment.

The Marathon Oil is one of the leading organizatations in its industry. Marathon Oil maintains its dominant position in market by carefully analyzing and reviewing the SWOT analysis.  SWOT analysis an immensenly interactive process and requires effective coordination among various departments within the firm such as – marketing, finance, operations, management information systems and strategic planning.

The SWOT Analysis framework helps an organization to identify the internal strategic factors such as -strengths and weaknesses, & external strategic factors such as - opportunities and threats. It leads to a 2X2 matrix – also called SWOT Matrix.

The Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) Analysis / Matrix enables the managers of the Marathon Oil to develop four types of strategies:

  • SO (strengths-opportunities) Strategies
  • WO (weaknesses-opportunities) Strategies
  • ST (strengths-threats) Strategies
  •  WT (weaknesses-threats) Strategies
Marathon Oil swot analysis / matrix

SWOT Matrix Strategies Objective

The central purpose of SWOT matrix is to identify the strategies that a firm can utilize to exploit external opportunities, counter threats, and build on & protect Marathon Oil strengths, and eradicate its weaknesses.

Step by Step Guide to Marathon Oil SWOT Analysis

Strengths of Marathon Oil – Internal Strategic Factors

As one of the leading organizations in its industry, Marathon Oil has numerous strengths that help it to thrive in the market place. These strengths not only help it to protect the market share in existing markets but also help in penetrating new markets. Based on Fern Fort University extensive research – some of the strengths of Marathon Oil are –

  • Highly successful at Go To Market strategies for its products.
  • Good Returns on Capital Expenditure – Marathon Oil is relatively successful at execution of new projects and generated good returns on capital expenditure by building new revenue streams.
  • Strong Brand Portfolio – Over the years Marathon Oil has invested in building a strong brand portfolio. The SWOT analysis of Marathon Oil just underlines this fact. This brand portfolio can be extremely useful if the organization wants to expand into new product categories.
  • Superb Performance in New Markets – Marathon Oil has built expertise at entering new markets and making success of them. The expansion has helped the organization to build new revenue stream and diversify the economic cycle risk in the markets it operates in.
  • Strong dealer community – It has built a culture among distributor & dealers where the dealers not only promote company’s products but also invest in training the sales team to explain to the customer how he/she can extract the maximum benefits out of the products.
  • Reliable suppliers – It has a strong base of reliable supplier of raw material thus enabling the company to overcome any supply chain bottlenecks.
  • Strong distribution network – Over the years Marathon Oil has built a reliable distribution network that can reach majority of its potential market.
  • Successful track record of integrating complimentary firms through mergers & acquisition. It has successfully integrated number of technology companies in the past few years to streamline its operations and to build a reliable supply chain.

Weakness of Marathon Oil – Internal Strategic Factors

Weakness are the areas where Marathon Oil can improve upon. Strategy is about making choices and weakness are the areas where a company can improve using SWOT analysis and build on its competitive advantage and strategic positioning.

  • The company has not being able to tackle the challenges present by the new entrants in the segment and has lost small market share in the niche categories. Marathon Oil has to build internal feedback mechanism directly from sales team on ground to counter these challenges.
  • High attrition rate in work force – compare to other organizations in the industry Marathon Oil has a higher attrition rate and have to spend a lot more compare to its competitors on training and development of its employees.
  • Financial planning is not done properly and efficiently. The current asset ratio and liquid asset ratios suggest that the company can use the cash more efficiently than what it is doing at present.
  • Limited success outside core business – Even though Marathon Oil is one of the leading organizations in its industry it has faced challenges in moving to other product segments with its present culture.
  • Not highly successful at integrating firms with different work culture. As mentioned earlier even though Marathon Oil is successful at integrating small companies it has its share of failure to merge firms that have different work culture.
  • Not very good at product demand forecasting leading to higher rate of missed opportunities compare to its competitors. One of the reason why the days inventory is high compare to its competitors is that Marathon Oil is not very good at demand forecasting thus end up keeping higher inventory both in-house and in channel.
  • The profitability ratio and Net Contribution % of Marathon Oil are below the industry average.

Opportunities for Marathon Oil – External Strategic Factors

  • Organization’s core competencies can be a success in similar other products field. A comparative example could be - GE healthcare research helped it in developing better Oil drilling machines.
  • The market development will lead to dilution of competitor’s advantage and enable Marathon Oil to increase its competitiveness compare to the other competitors.
  • Lower inflation rate – The low inflation rate bring more stability in the market, enable credit at lower interest rate to the customers of Marathon Oil.
  • New trends in the consumer behavior can open up new market for the Marathon Oil . It provides a great opportunity for the organization to build new revenue streams and diversify into new product categories too.
  • Stable free cash flow provides opportunities to invest in adjacent product segments. With more cash in bank the company can invest in new technologies as well as in new products segments. This should open a window of opportunity for Marathon Oil in other product categories.
  • Opening up of new markets because of government agreement – the adoption of new technology standard and government free trade agreement has provided Marathon Oil an opportunity to enter a new emerging market.
  • The new technology provides an opportunity to Marathon Oil to practices differentiated pricing strategy in the new market. It will enable the firm to maintain its loyal customers with great service and lure new customers through other value oriented propositions.
  • New customers from online channel – Over the past few years the company has invested vast sum of money into the online platform. This investment has opened new sales channel for Marathon Oil. In the next few years the company can leverage this opportunity by knowing its customer better and serving their needs using big data analytics.

Threats Marathon Oil Facing - External Strategic Factors

  • As the company is operating in numerous countries it is exposed to currency fluctuations especially given the volatile political climate in number of markets across the world.
  • Intense competition – Stable profitability has increased the number of players in the industry over last two years which has put downward pressure on not only profitability but also on overall sales.
  • Changing consumer buying behavior from online channel could be a threat to the existing physical infrastructure driven supply chain model.
  • Rising raw material can pose a threat to the Marathon Oil profitability.
  • Increasing trend toward isolationism in the American economy can lead to similar reaction from other government thus negatively impacting the international sales.
  • Rising pay level especially movements such as $15 an hour and increasing prices in the China can lead to serious pressure on profitability of Marathon Oil
  • Growing strengths of local distributors also presents a threat in some markets as the competition is paying higher margins to the local distributors.
  • Imitation of the counterfeit and low quality product is also a threat to Marathon Oil’s product especially in the emerging markets and low income markets.

Limitations of SWOT Analysis for Marathon Oil

Although the SWOT analysis is widely used as a strategic planning tool, the analysis does have its share of limitations.

  • Certain capabilities or factors of an organization can be both a strength and weakness at the same time. This is one of the major limitations of SWOT analysis . For example changing environmental regulations can be both a threat to company it can also be an opportunity in a sense that it will enable the company to be on a level playing field or at advantage to competitors if it able to develop the products faster than the competitors.
  • SWOT does not show how to achieve a competitive advantage, so it must not be an end in itself.
  • The matrix is only a starting point for a discussion on how proposed strategies could be implemented. It provided an evaluation window but not an implementation plan based on strategic competitiveness of Marathon Oil
  • SWOT is a static assessment - analysis of status quo with few prospective changes. As circumstances, capabilities, threats, and strategies change, the dynamics of a competitive environment may not be revealed in a single matrix.
  • SWOT analysis may lead the firm to overemphasize a single internal or external factor in formulating strategies. There are interrelationships among the key internal and external factors that SWOT does not reveal that may be important in devising strategies.

Weighted SWOT Analysis of Marathon Oil

In light of the above mentioned limitations of the SWOT analysis / matrix, corporate managers decided to provide weightage to each internal strength and weakness of the firm. Organizations also assess the likelihood of events taking place in the coming future and how strong their impact could be on company's performance.

This method is called Weighted SWOT analysis. It is better than doing simplistic SWOT analysis because with Weighted SWOT Analysis Marathon Oil managers can focus on the most critical factors and discount the non-important one. It also solves the long list problem where organizations ends up making a long list but none of the factors deemed too critical.

Limitation of Weighted SWOT analysis of Marathon Oil

This approach also suffers from one major drawback - it focus on individual importance of factor rather than how they are collectively important and impact the business holistically.

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Example of Weighted SWOT Analysis

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SWOT Worksheet & Template

If you like to do your own SWOT analysis or want to make your own Weighted SWOT SWOT matrix then feel free to download Fern Fort University SWOT Analysis Template.

References / Citations & Bibliography

  • M. E. Porter, Competitive Strategy(New York: Free Press, 1980)
  • A. D. Chandler, Strategy and Structure (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1962)
  • O. E. Williamson, Markets and Hierarchies(New York: Free Press, 1975);
  • L. Wrigley, Divisional Autonomy and Diversification (PhD, Harvard Business School, 1970)
  • R. E. White, Generic Business Strategies, Organizational Context and Performance: An Empirical Investigation, Strategic Management Journal7 (1986)