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What is a PESTEL Analysis?

A PESTEL analysis is a framework or tool used by marketers to analyze and monitor the macro-environmental (external marketing environment) factors that have an impact on an organization, company, or industry.  It examines the Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, and Legal factors in the external environment.  A PESTEL analysis is used to identify threats and weaknesses  which are used in a SWOT analysis.

  • Political factors include government policies, leadership, and change; foreign trade policies; internal political issues and trends; tax policy; regulation and de-regulation trends.
  • Economic factors include current and projected economic growth; inflation and interest rates; job growth and unemployment; labor costs; impact of globalization; disposable income of consumers and businesses; likely changes in the economic environment.
  • Social factors include demographics (age, gender, race, family size); consumer attitudes, opinions, and buying patterns; population growth rate and employment patterns; socio-cultural changes; ethnic and religious trends; living standards.
  • Technological factors affect marketing in (1) new ways of producing goods and services; (2) new ways of distributing goods and services; (3) new ways of communicating with target markets.
  • Environmental factors are important due to the increasing scarcity of raw materials; pollution targets; doing business as an ethical and sustainable company; carbon footprint targets.
  • Legal factors include health and safety; equal opportunities; advertising standards; consumer rights and laws; product labeling and product safety.

Resources for a PESTEL Analysis

Public Company Websites.  Google search the company name and "investor relations."  This will often provide links to Annual Reports; financial reports such as 10-K, 10-Q, and 8-K; and corporate social responsibility reports.

Business Source Complete. Country Reports, on the right side tool bar, links to extensive current reports providing information on the PESTEL factors in a country.  Also, search for articles in periodicals and journals on individual PESTEL factors in the country, articles on a company and the industry it operates in.

Nexis Uni   PESTEL factor information is provided for countries. At the landing page, select Publication and enter "United States" and date > 07/01/2016, for example, in the search box.   Begin typing PRS Group Political in the Publication box and then select PRS Group Political Risk Service that appears below the box and click Search.

screenshot of Nexis Uni search

  • Select News instead of Publication to search for articles on companies, industries, and individual PESTEL factors. 
  • Open the Business section and select Company Dossier to search for information on a specific company.  The company report will include its brands and competitors, with links to current news articles, court cases, and intellectual property.

IBISWorld.  Provides relevant industry reports; find the industry your company operates in.  Economic information can be found in the Products & Market - Demand Determinants section.  Technology and regulatory information can be found in the Operating Conditions section. 

Bureau of Economic Analysis. As an agency under the Department of Commerce, the Bureau of Economic Analysis prepares national, regional, industry, and international accounts that present essential information on such key issues as economic growth, regional economic development, interindustry relationships, and the nation's position in the world economy.

USAFacts. A not-for-profit, nonpartisan civic initiative making government data easy for all Americans to access and understand.

Pen Wharton Budget Model. Provides economic analysis of public policy's fiscal impact.

Wall Street Journal.  Available from 1984-present in ProQuest Newsstand.

New York Times.  Available from 1980-present in ProQuest Newsstand.

US Newsstream.  ProQuest.  Full text of 300+ U.S. and international news sources.

Pew Research Center.  A nonpartisan fact tank that studies "U.S. politics and policy; journalism and media; internet, science and technology; religion and public life; Hispanic trends; global attitudes and trends; and U.S. social and demographic trends."

Pew Research Center Global Indicators Database.  Pew Research Center conducts public opinion surveys around the world on a broad array of subjects ranging from people's assessments of their own lives to their views about the current state of the world and important issues of the day.

iPOLL (Roper Center).  A public opinion/polling database of 500,000+ questions and answers on a wide range of topics collected by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research; data covers 1935-present.

CQ Researcher Online.  A collection of reports covering political and social issues, with regular reports on topics in health, international affairs, education, the environment, technology and the U.S. economy from 1991 to the present.  U.S. Census Bureau platform that provides data on the U.S. people and economy: population, education, business, employment, health, housing, income and poverty, economy, families and living arrangements, and international trade.

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