PEST analysis (Political, Economic, Social and Technological analysis) describes a framework of macro-environmental factors used in the environmental scanning component of strategic management. Strategy consultants use PEST analysis to scan the external macro-environment in which a firm operates.
PEST is an acronym for the following factors:
- Political factors are basically to what degree the government intervenes in the economy. Specifically, political factors include areas such as tax policy, labour law, environmental law, trade restrictions, tariffs, and political stability. Political factors may also include goods and services which the government wants to provide or be provided (merit goods) and those that the government does not want to be provided (demerit goods or merit bads). Furthermore, governments have great influence on the health, education, and infrastructure of a nation.
- Economic factors include economic growth, interest rates, exchange rates and the inflation rate. These factors have major impacts on how businesses operate and make decisions. For example, interest rates affect a firm’s cost of capital and therefore to what extent a business grows and expands. Exchange rates affect the costs of exporting goods and the supply and price of imported goods in an economy
- Social factors include the cultural aspects and include health consciousness, population growth rate, age distribution, career attitudes and emphasis on safety. Trends in social factors affect the demand for a company’s products and how that company operates. For example, an aging population may imply a smaller and less-willing workforce (thus increasing the cost of labor). Furthermore, companies may change various management strategies to adapt to these social trends (such as recruiting older workers).
- Technological factors include technological aspects such as R&D activity, automation, technology incentives and the rate of technological change. They can determine barriers to entry, minimum efficient production level and influence outsourcing decisions. Furthermore, technological shifts can affect costs, quality, and lead to innovation.
PEST factors play an important role in the value creation opportunities of a strategy. However they are usually outside the control of the corporation and must normally be considered as either threats or opportunities. Remember macro-economical factors can differ per continent, country or even region, so normally a PEST analysis should be performed per country.
Some analysts added Legal and rearranged the acronym to SLEPT. Inserting Environmental factors expanded it to PESTEL or PESTLE. The model has recently been further extended to STEEPLE and STEEPLED, adding Ethics and Demographic factors. It is a part of the external analysis when conducting a strategic analysis or doing market research, and gives an overview of the different macroenvironmental factors that the company has to take into consideration. It is a useful strategic tool for understanding market growth or decline, business position, potential and direction for operations. The growing importance of environmental or ecological factors in the first decade of the 21st century have given rise to green business and encouraged widespread use of an updated version of the PEST framework. STEER analysis systematically considers Socio-cultural, Technological, Economic, Ecological, and Regulatory factors.
- Environmental factors include ecological and environmental aspects such as weather, climate, and climate change, which may especially affect industries such as tourism, farming, and insurance. Furthermore, growing awareness of the potential impacts of climate change is affecting how companies operate and the products they offer, both creating new markets and diminishing or destroying existing ones.
- Legal factors include discrimination law, consumer law, antitrust law, employment law, and health and safety law. These factors can affect how a company operates, its costs, and the demand for its products.