PEST analysis for marketers: Societal factors

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Pest analysis

Have you ever heard of a PEST analysis? It’s not something you do with annoying people on Facebook or around the house. It’s a basic form of business analysis that looks at four key “big picture” factors that might influence your business, factors in the environment around you and your company. These factors are political, economic, social, and technological. Let’s take a look this week at what these might mean for your business and marketing efforts.

In the original PEST analysis the S stood for social, but in order to differentiate in the world of marketing between social media and society at large, we’ll say societal instead. This is the way that society is changing and people are changing in those societies that impact your marketing.

What are the macro changes that happening in society that could impact your marketing? How is society itself being altered? For example, the baby boomer generation (born 1945-1965) is headed for retirement now through the next 20 years. How will this impact your company? Does your company serve this audience? For example, if you have a website that serves this audience, you could be losing a significant portion of your business if your font size is under 16px. Why? As we age, our ability to clearly and easily read letters on screen declines. This is also why the Amazon Kindle is wildly popular with retirement age folks – it instantly turns any book into a large print book.

Think about macro changes in society in terms of career. How many people today have sufficient incomes and savings to be able to retire in 20, 30, or 50 years? If you’re doing serious long term planning for your company, you may have people in the workforce much longer than you think. We see this happening today in a down economy, with grandparents and their teenage grandchildren competing for the same jobs.

The key question to ask is, how are your customers changing? What’s going on in their lives that is going to impact how you interact with them? For example, Facebook and social media are technological changes, but they have a huge societal impact on how we get news and information. For an entire generation, Facebook is their cable news network and search engine combined. How does that impact your marketing? If someone decides to run a grassroots campaign for or against your company, are you prepared and equipped to handle it?

In your planning, you can and should also account for societal-wide changes. Consider the impact on society that 9/11 had, or that a major biological or nuclear event could have, such as the Fukushima fuel pools going critical or another Katrina. How does this impact your marketing? How does this impact your company?

Tomorrow we close out the PEST analysis series with technology.

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