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What is BCG Matrix: A Comprehensive Guide with Templates

Updated on: 16 May 2024 | 11 min read
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BCG Matrix offers a methodical approach to managing a company’s portfolio of products and services. It helps businesses understand the balance between market growth and market share, and guide them in resource allocation and strategic decision-making. In this guide, we’ll delve into the fundamentals of the BCG Matrix, explore its practical applications, and provide actionable insights to help you leverage its potential for driving growth and success in your organization.

What is the BCG Matrix?

The BCG Matrix, or Growth-Share Matrix, was developed to help companies in reviewing their product portfolios and deciding where to invest, develop, or discontinue. It’s split into four quadrants - each representing a type of product in the company’s portfolio:

  • Cash Cows: High market share but low market growth.
  • Stars: High market share and high market growth.
  • Question Marks: Low market share but high market growth.
  • Dogs: Low market share and low market growth.
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Each quadrant has its strategic implications, influencing how resources are allocated to maximize profitability and market position. For instance, ‘Stars’ might warrant substantial investment to capitalize on growth potential, while ‘Dogs’ may require divestiture.

Understanding how to categorize products within these quadrants allows businesses to make informed decisions about where to focus their efforts and resources. This strategic tool is not just limited to large corporations but is equally applicable across different sectors, helping businesses in navigating complex market dynamics.

By effectively applying the BCG Matrix, companies can steer their product lines towards more profitable trajectories, ensuring sustained growth and competitiveness in their respective markets.

The BCG matrix, also known as the Boston Consulting Group Matrix, was developed by Bruce Henderson, the founder of the Boston Consulting Group, in 1968. Henderson created the matrix as a strategic management tool to help companies analyze their business units or product lines and make decisions about resource allocation and investment priorities. Since its introduction, the BCG Matrix has become one of the most widely used tools in strategic management, helping companies identify areas for growth, prioritize investments, and optimize their portfolio of businesses or products.

The 4 Quadrants of the BCG Matrix

The BCG Matrix categorizes products or business units into four distinct quadrants based on their market growth and market share. Understanding these quadrants helps with making informed strategic decisions. Let’s delve into each quadrant, exploring their characteristics and strategic implications.

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Cash Cows

  • Cash Cows are business units or products with a high market share in low-growth or mature markets.
  • These units generate significant cash flow due to their established market positions but have limited growth opportunities.
  • Cash Cows are often used to finance other business units or products within the organization and contribute to overall profitability.


  • Stars represent business units or products with a high market share in high-growth markets.
  • These units typically require significant investment to sustain their rapid growth and maintain or strengthen their market leadership position.
  • While Stars generate high revenue and have the potential to become Cash Cows in the future, they also require careful management to ensure continued success.

Question Marks

  • Question Marks are business units or products with low market share in high-growth markets.
  • These units have the potential for rapid growth but also face significant competitive challenges.
  • Question Marks require careful investment and strategic decision-making to determine whether to invest further to turn them into Stars or divest if growth prospects are limited.


  • Dogs represent business units or products with low market share in low-growth markets.
  • These units have limited growth potential and often consume more resources than they generate in returns.
  • Dogs may require strategic decisions such as divestment, restructuring, or discontinuation to minimize losses and reallocate resources to more promising areas.

Each quadrant demands a unique strategic approach, from investing and growing to maintaining or divesting. By identifying which quadrant a product belongs to, companies can better allocate resources and plan strategic moves.

How to Use the BCG Matrix

Implementing the BCG Matrix isn’t just about understanding where your products stand today, but also about anticipating where they could be tomorrow. Here’s how to use the BCG Matrix step-by-step.

1. Identify business units or products

Start by identifying the business units or products that you want to analyze within your organization. These could be individual products, product lines, divisions, or business units, depending on the level of granularity you require for your analysis.

2. Gather data

Collect relevant data on market growth rates and relative market shares for each identified business unit or product. Market growth rate refers to the rate at which the overall market for a particular product or service is expanding. Relative market share measures the company’s market share compared to its competitors in the same market.

3. Plot on the matrix

Plot each business unit or product on the BCG Matrix based on its market growth rate and relative market share. Assign each unit to one of the four quadrants: Stars, Cash Cows, Question Marks, or Dogs, depending on its position on the matrix.

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4. Analyze implications

Analyze the implications of the positioning of each business unit or product within the matrix.

  • Stars: Determine whether to invest further to capitalize on their high growth potential and strengthen their market position.
  • Cash Cows: Consider strategies for maximizing cash flow and profitability, such as cost reduction or diversification.
  • Question Marks: Evaluate the potential for growth and assess the viability of investment opportunities to transform them into Stars.
  • Dogs: Decide on appropriate strategies to minimize losses, such as divestment, restructuring, or discontinuation.

5. Develop action plans

Develop action plans and strategic initiatives for each quadrant based on the analysis. Allocate resources and prioritize investments according to the strategic priorities identified for each business unit or product. Monitor progress regularly and adjust strategies as needed based on changes in market conditions and business dynamics.

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6. Review and update

Conduct regular reviews of the BCG Matrix to reflect changes in market conditions, competitive landscape, and the performance of business units or products. Update the matrix accordingly and refine strategies to ensure alignment with organizational goals and objectives.

BCG Matrix Example: How it Can Be Applied

To illustrate the effectiveness of the BCG matrix, let’s delve into a detailed example of a company that successfully applied the BCG Matrix to optimize its product portfolio and drive strategic decisions.

BCG Matrix for Amazon
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  • Company overview: A mid-sized tech firm with a diverse range of products.
  • Challenge: The company faced difficulties in prioritizing investments and resources across its portfolio.
  • BCG matrix application: The firm categorized its products into the four quadrants of the BCG Matrix: Cash Cows, Dogs, Question Marks, and Stars. This classification helped in identifying which products needed investment, which should be maintained, which could be divested, and which required innovation.
  • Decisions made: Strategic investments were redirected towards ‘Stars’ and ‘Question Marks’ to harness their potential for market leadership. Meanwhile, resources from ‘Dogs’ were reallocated to more promising areas.
  • Results: The strategic realignment led to a 20% increase in overall profitability and a more focused approach to product development.
  • Lessons learned: The key takeaway was the importance of regular portfolio review and the agility to shift strategies based on market dynamics.

Example of a BCG Matrix for Samsung

BCG Matrix for Samsung
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This example provides a simplified overview of how Samsung’s product portfolio could be categorized using the BCG Matrix framework based on their market share and growth potential.

  • Cash Cows: Samsung’s established products with high market share in mature markets, such as their flagship smartphones and home appliances. These products generate stable revenue and profits.
  • Question Marks: New or emerging products or product lines with potential for growth, such as wearable devices or smart home technologies. Samsung may need to invest more resources to grow these products into Stars.
  • Stars: Products with high market share in high-growth markets, such as their semiconductor business or display technologies. These products are leaders in their markets and contribute significantly to Samsung’s revenue and profitability.
  • Dogs: Products with low market share in low-growth or declining markets, such as certain budget smartphones or older electronic devices. These products may not be profitable and may require reevaluation or divestment.

Explore more BCG matrix examples.

Benefits of a BCG Matrix

The matrix offers numerous advantages that can significantly boost a company’s market positioning and decision-making processes. Here are some key benefits of implementing the BCG Matrix in your business strategy.

numerous advantages that can significantly enhance a company’s market positioning and decision-making processes. Here are some key benefits of implementing the BCG Matrix in your business strategy.

  • Improved understanding of market dynamics: The BCG Matrix helps businesses gain a deeper insight into the market performance of their product portfolio, enabling them to make informed decisions about where to invest their resources.
  • Improved resource allocation and investment decisions: By categorizing products into four distinct quadrants—Cash Cows, Dogs, Question Marks, and Stars—companies can more effectively allocate resources and prioritize investments based on the potential return and market growth.
  • Facilitation of strategic thinking and long-term planning: The BCG Matrix encourages strategic thinking by providing a clear framework for evaluating the long-term potential of various business units or products.
  • Ability to identify potential growth opportunities: By identifying Stars and Question Marks, companies can spot emerging opportunities and strategize on how to transform them into leading market positions.
  • Support in prioritizing product development efforts: Understanding which products are Cash Cows or Dogs can help companies decide where to focus their development efforts to maximize profitability and market share.
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Limitations of the BCG Matrix

While the matrix is a powerful tool for strategic planning, it’s important to recognize its limitations to ensure effective application. Understanding these constraints can help managers avoid potential pitfalls and complement the BCG Matrix with other strategic tools.

  • Dependence on Market Growth Rate: The BCG Matrix heavily relies on market growth rate as a primary indicator, which might not always reflect the potential or challenges of a market accurately. This can lead to misjudgment in resource allocation and strategic decisions.
  • Oversimplification of Market Realities: The simplicity of the BCG Matrix, while a strength, can also be a limitation. It may oversimplify complex market dynamics and competitive landscapes, which require more nuanced analysis tools such as those found inour guides on How to Do a Competitive Analysis.
  • Challenges in New or Emerging Markets: The matrix might not adequately address the nuances of new or emerging markets where historical data is limited, making it difficult to accurately place products in the correct quadrants.
  • Highly Competitive or Rapidly Changing Sectors: In sectors where competition is fierce or changes occur rapidly, the static nature of the BCG Matrix might not capture real-time market shifts effectively.

Tips for Effective BCG Matrix Implementation

Here are some tips to maximize the effectiveness of the BCG Matrix in analyzing and managing portfolio of products or business units, make informed strategic decisions, and drive sustainable growth and profitability.

  • Keep the BCG Matrix current by regularly reviewing and updating it to reflect changes in market conditions and business dynamics.
  • Integrate the BCG Matrix with other strategic planning tools and frameworks to develop holistic strategies.
  • Involve key stakeholders to ensure alignment and consensus on strategic priorities and resource allocation.
  • Conduct scenario planning to anticipate future market changes and inform strategic decision-making.
  • Be flexible in interpreting and applying the BCG Matrix to accommodate evolving business strategies and goals.
  • Translate insights from the BCG Matrix into actionable strategies with clear objectives, timelines, and responsibilities.
  • Foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement to refine the BCG Matrix implementation process over time.

Effectively Use the BCG Matrix with Createy

  • Pre-made templates: Creately offers a variety of BCG Matrix templates that are ready to use and customizable. This saves time and ensures that you can focus on analysis rather than design.
  • Real-time collaboration: The platform supports real-time collaboration, allowing team members to contribute simultaneously. This feature ensures that all insights and adjustments are integrated instantly, facilitating a more dynamic strategic planning process.
  • Strategic decision-making: With Createy, you can harness the power of visual data representation to make informed decisions. The platform’s AI-powered visual intelligence Creately VIZ helps in quickly identifying which quadrant of the BCG Matrix each product belongs to, enabling faster strategic responses.
  • Annotation and commenting: Add annotations, comments, and sticky notes directly onto diagrams, making it easy to provide feedback, suggestions, and insights. This feature is particularly useful for capturing customer feedback, identifying pain points, and brainstorming solutions.
  • Presentation mode: Present your BCG matrix analysis in a slideshow format. This is useful for sharing findings, insights, and solutions with stakeholders, clients, or team members during meetings or presentations.

Wrapping up

It’s clear that this strategic tool holds significant value for businesses aiming to optimize their portfolio management and make informed strategic decisions. The BCG Matrix not only helps in identifying which products or services warrant further investment but also aids in determining which ones should be divested.

For those looking to dive deeper into strategic planning tools, Creately offers a range of resources and templates, such as the Ansoff Matrix Template and 50 Business Diagrams for Strategic Planning, which can complement the insights gained from the BCG Matrix.

We encourage you to leverage these tools to enhance your strategic planning processes and achieve greater success in your business endeavors.

Join over thousands of organizations that use Creately to brainstorm, plan, analyze, and execute their projects successfully.

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Amanda Athuraliya
Amanda Athuraliya Communications Specialist

Amanda Athuraliya is the communication specialist/content writer at Creately, online diagramming and collaboration tool. She is an avid reader, a budding writer and a passionate researcher who loves to write about all kinds of topics.

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