Clearwater Paper Corporation SWOT Analysis / Matrix

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

The Clearwater Paper Corporation is one of the leading companies in its industry. Clearwater Paper Corporation maintains its dominant position in market by critically analyzing and reviewing the SWOT analysis.  SWOT analysis a highly interactive process and requires effective coordination among various departments within the organization such as – marketing, finance, operations, management information systems and strategic planning.


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The SWOT Analysis framework facilitates 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 known as SWOT Matrix.

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

  • SO (strengths-opportunities) Strategies
  • WO (weaknesses-opportunities) Strategies
  • ST (strengths-threats) Strategies
  •  WT (weaknesses-threats) Strategies
Clearwater Paper Corporation swot analysis / matrix

SWOT Matrix Strategies Objective

The core purpose of SWOT matrix is to identify the strategies that a company can utilize to exploit external opportunities, counter threats, and build on & protect Clearwater Paper Corporation strengths, and eradicate its weaknesses.

Step by Step Guide to Clearwater Paper Corporation SWOT Analysis

Strengths of Clearwater Paper Corporation – Internal Strategic Factors


As one of the leading firms in its industry, Clearwater Paper Corporation 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 Clearwater Paper Corporation are –


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  • High level of customer satisfaction – the company with its dedicated customer relationship management department has able to achieve a high level of customer satisfaction among present customers and good brand equity among the potential customers.
  • Superb Performance in New Markets – Clearwater Paper Corporation 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.
  • Automation of activities brought consistency of quality to Clearwater Paper Corporation products and has enabled the company to scale up and scale down based on the demand conditions in the market.
  • Strong distribution network – Over the years Clearwater Paper Corporation 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.
  • Strong Brand Portfolio – Over the years Clearwater Paper Corporation has invested in building a strong brand portfolio. The SWOT analysis of Clearwater Paper Corporation just underlines this fact. This brand portfolio can be extremely useful if the organization wants to expand into new product categories.
  • Highly successful at Go To Market strategies for its products.
  • Reliable suppliers – It has a strong base of reliable supplier of raw material thus enabling the company to overcome any supply chain bottlenecks.


Weakness of Clearwater Paper Corporation – Internal Strategic Factors


Weakness are the areas where Clearwater Paper Corporation can improve upon. Strategy is about making choices and weakness are the areas where a firm can improve using SWOT analysis and build on its competitive advantage and strategic positioning.


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  • Days inventory is high compare to the competitors – making the company raise more capital to invest in the channel. This can impact the long term growth of Clearwater Paper Corporation
  • The marketing of the products left a lot to be desired. Even though the product is a success in terms of sale but its positioning and unique selling proposition is not clearly defined which can lead to the attacks in this segment from the competitors.
  • Not highly successful at integrating firms with different work culture. As mentioned earlier even though Clearwater Paper Corporation is successful at integrating small companies it has its share of failure to merge firms that have different work culture.
  • Organization structure is only compatible with present business model thus limiting expansion in adjacent product segments.
  • High attrition rate in work force – compare to other organizations in the industry Clearwater Paper Corporation has a higher attrition rate and have to spend a lot more compare to its competitors on training and development of its employees.
  • 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 Clearwater Paper Corporation 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 Clearwater Paper Corporation are below the industry average.

Opportunities for Clearwater Paper Corporation – External Strategic Factors


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  • Lower inflation rate – The low inflation rate bring more stability in the market, enable credit at lower interest rate to the customers of Clearwater Paper Corporation.
  • 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.
  • Government green drive also opens an opportunity for procurement of Clearwater Paper Corporation products by the state as well as federal government contractors.
  • New environmental policies – The new opportunities will create a level playing field for all the players in the industry. It represent a great opportunity for Clearwater Paper Corporation to drive home its advantage in new technology and gain market share in the new product category.
  • 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 Clearwater Paper Corporation. In the next few years the company can leverage this opportunity by knowing its customer better and serving their needs using big data analytics.
  • Economic uptick and increase in customer spending, after years of recession and slow growth rate in the industry, is an opportunity for Clearwater Paper Corporation to capture new customers and increase its market share.
  • 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 Clearwater Paper Corporation in other product categories.
  • New trends in the consumer behavior can open up new market for the Clearwater Paper Corporation . It provides a great opportunity for the organization to build new revenue streams and diversify into new product categories too.

Threats Clearwater Paper Corporation Facing - External Strategic Factors

  • Rising pay level especially movements such as $15 an hour and increasing prices in the China can lead to serious pressure on profitability of Clearwater Paper Corporation
  • Growing strengths of local distributors also presents a threat in some markets as the competition is paying higher margins to the local distributors.
  • 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.
  • New environment regulations under Paris agreement (2016) could be a threat to certain existing product categories .
  • Rising raw material can pose a threat to the Clearwater Paper Corporation profitability.
  • No regular supply of innovative products – Over the years the company has developed numerous products but those are often response to the development by other players. Secondly the supply of new products is not regular thus leading to high and low swings in the sales number over period of time.
  • Changing consumer buying behavior from online channel could be a threat to the existing physical infrastructure driven supply chain model.

Limitations of SWOT Analysis for Clearwater Paper Corporation

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 Clearwater Paper Corporation
  • 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.

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Weighted SWOT Analysis of Clearwater Paper Corporation

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 Clearwater Paper Corporation 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 Clearwater Paper Corporation

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)