Stick with us on this, but… Imagine for a minute that you’ve been talking up your famous spaghetti alfredo recipe. 

It’s the best recipe in your arsenal, and everyone loves it. You make it at every get-together. And then one day, a relative says they’re bringing their new partner to meet the family – a new partner who just so happens to be a Michelin-starred chef. Everyone’s expecting alfredo. 

Welcome to the big leagues.

In preparation, you’d probably plate up that pasta in private, taste it like a scientist and give it a thorough analysis, right? What’s good about it? What doesn’t work? What might the chef pick apart? And how can you improve the taste?

In essence, this is a SWOT analysis of a product. 

Don’t worry; we’ll drop the spaghetti simile now. The point is: SWOT analysis is all about putting a product, service, company, or, well, recipe under the microscope to help develop new strategies. 

Come with us while we uncover how and why you might do that for a product, and what can be learned as a result.

In this article, we’ll follow the following topics:

  • What is SWOT Analysis?
  • Why do a SWOT analysis of a product?
  • SWOT analysis of a new product
  • SWOT analysis of an old product
  • Why SWOT analysis of a product is so important for product managers
  • Product SWOT analysis example

What is SWOT analysis?

SWOT is a framework for analysis that can help you discover USPs, areas for improvement, and fresh strategies.

It stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats:


This is what’s working. It’s what currently sets whatever it is you’re analyzing apart from the rest of the pack. Building out a list of strengths isn’t bragging; it’s recognition that you deserve your spot in the market.


Identifying weaknesses involves removing any bias and being as objective as possible. What’s not working here? What do the negative reviews have in common? What do you know needs to be added?


These are external and internal factors that can be used to your advantage. To revisit the spaghetti alfredo metaphor for a second: an opportunity might be that there’s a sale on pasta makers, so maybe you can spin up your own fresh noodles.


Are your competitors edging ahead in any particular area? Is a new upstart company doing what you do but cheaper? Or are there any other factors – staffing, stock, market trends, etc. – that pose upcoming challenges?

SWOT analysis of a product is about taking that framework and applying it just to that offering (as opposed to your company as a whole). It’s about picking it apart from a technical, industry, and user perspective to find avenues for improvement, potential marketing strategies, must-have new features, and potential commercial challenges.

Why do a SWOT analysis of a product?

Why is SWOT analysis important? Well, unless you’re the CEO of Paper Bags Inc, your product(s) should be ever-changing and evolving alongside the market. The roadmap should be long, robust, and built on insight rather than whims. 

SWOT analysis helps uncover that insight. It’s how you honestly evaluate a product from every angle, taking external and internal factors into account to build useful strategies for teams across the whole business.

Each section of the SWOT framework can provide useful strategic insight that you might otherwise miss with your heads kept down. It can surface features that should be added to keep pace with market trends, and it can help product teams realize where the wind is blowing.

It can even help find opportunities for new products that can be built into your existing portfolio, or help cement the use case for one you’ve got in the pipeline. Threats and opportunities, meanwhile, can be the building blocks of your ongoing product roadmap.

How to do a SWOT analysis

We’ll go into detail on how this differs for new or existing products in a minute, but here’s a very quick overview.

A SWOT analysis is usually laid out in a table, so you can see everything in one place and draw conclusions about how various elements might interact.

Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats
Your… …insights …go …here

As to how you actually fill out each section? It’ll be a mix of a multitude of informational verticals that all go hand-in-hand with good old gut instinct:

  • Market research
  • Customer feedback
  • Reviews and media feedback
  • Competitor analysis
  • Product knowledge

Thorough research will get you most of the way there, and your own knowledge about your offering will take you the rest of the way. It’s often useful for stakeholders from a variety of teams to be involved in the process, as they’ll be able to offer SWOT insight that others might miss.

SWOT analysis of a new product

If you’re bringing a brand new product to market, SWOT analysis can help you firm up its positioning, price, and overall go-to-market strategy. Here’s how:

New product: Strengths

With a new product, you don’t yet have empirical evidence around its strengths. Instead, you ought to build a list of strengths that it offers customers as a proposition, based on real-world research. That usually involves conducting surveys and focus groups and clarifying what’s missing in the market. If your product fills those gaps, then there are your strengths.

New product: Weaknesses

There are several weaknesses inherent to new products. For a start, you may not have the cost efficiency that some more established rivals enjoy, which could affect your pricing strategy. Beyond this, though, you’ll be in a battle to build awareness and loyalty; others might have this in spades, but newcomer products can’t rest on their laurels when it comes to driving awareness. Weaknesses for new products aren’t failings, though; they’re what fuel opportunities.

New product: Opportunities

Newness is a baked-in opportunity. You’ve got potential newsworthiness that established products don’t, you can align yourself with influential early adopters, and you may even be able to emerge as a leader in terms of cost. New products can find opportunities by simply being novel in the market.

New product: Threats

The market is your threat. Or really, what it does next. If your product is a smash hit, then larger competitors will move quickly to emulate your success. That means your biggest threat might be having to pivot to a backup plan in terms of price, value, or features. It’s like chess: there are always threats, so try and think three moves ahead.

SWOT analysis of an existing product

Existing products can benefit from a spot of SWOT too because the insights you garner can help you reposition and plan for potential future challenges. Here’s how:

Existing product: Strengths

Your product’s key strengths should be there for all to see, right on your website’s product page. But as an established product, you might also have strengths built around its current usage data or proliferation. For example, you might have excellent customer retention, or you may have great partnerships in place that make your product look even more compelling.

Existing product: Weaknesses

You may already be aware of your product’s core weaknesses, but it’s worth including them even if planned future rollouts are set to address them. Just remember: you’re checking for weaknesses within the context of your closest rivals as well as the broader market. 

Existing product: Opportunities

Opportunities here are growth areas. You may be meeting the demands of a specific set of customers, but how can you evolve the product (or create a new one) that can meet the needs of ones you’ve yet to acquire? New technology can be an opportunity, too, so long as you’re quick to adopt it.

Existing product: Threats

Your threats will likely be similar here regardless if your product is brand new or thoroughly entrenched. The machinations of both the market and your competitors are your threats, as are unchecked weaknesses that are left too long. Technology, changing consumer habits, and emerging startups are often your biggest threats.

Why SWOT analysis of a product is so important for product managers

Whether your product is about to burst onto the scene or it’s been out in the wild for some time, product managers will find it hugely beneficial to conduct a SWOT analysis, for a few fundamental reasons:

  • It helps cement what’s working well
  • It highlights areas for improvement
  • It helps understand the wider market

Doing this exercise allows product managers to focus on areas where they have a competitive advantage and develop strategies to overcome their weaknesses. 

For example, if a product has a relatively high price point, a product manager might consider lowering the price or offering discounts to make it more competitive. If a product is facing increased competition, a product manager may consider developing new features or improving the quality of the product to make it more competitive.

In other words, by understanding the external and internal factors that could provide a competitive advantage, product managers can develop strategies to capitalize on these opportunities. 

Importantly, once you’ve identified the core tenets of your SWOT, a key step is to analyze how they interact with each other. For example, a product’s strengths could help it capitalize on an opportunity, while any weaknesses may make it vulnerable to a threat. By clocking these interactions, product managers can develop a fuller understanding of areas for improvement.

In summary…

SWOT analysis is a valuable tool for product managers looking to evaluate and improve their products. By considering strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats together as interacting characteristics, product managers gain a more comprehensive understanding and identify areas for improvement. And by taking a step back and conducting a SWOT analysis on a regular basis, product managers can help keep products ahead of the competition.

Product SWOT analysis: example

Don’t worry, this won’t be about spaghetti alfredo. Instead let’s dream up a brand new digital comms and IM platform for enterprises, called Stack. Stack is a rival to Slack, offering a bunch of the same features but at a lower price, and we’re still developing some other core features as part of our roadmap.

Here’s how our product SWOT analysis might shake out:

Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats
User-friendly interface Limited integrations with third-party tools Expanding into new markets, such as the education sector Competition from established players like Slack
Competitive pricing Limited customization options Partnering with other businesses to offer bundled services Potential for security breaches
Strong focus on collaboration and teamwork Limited storage space Developing new features and functionality to improve user experience User migration to other collaboration platforms
Available on multiple devices Lack of in-app video conferencing Leveraging positive customer reviews and word-of-mouth to improve brand awareness Potential for technical glitches and downtime
Multiple language support Limited customer support options Offering free trials and demos to attract new users Regulatory changes in the technology industry

If that was our resulting SWOT, then our next job would be to see which factors interact with, negate or complement others, and draw out some insights that we can act on. Here are just a couple of examples:

1. Implementing missing features is a priority

User migration is an issue – as is competition from Slack – and it might be down to the fact that we currently have a lack of video conferencing and a limited amount of user storage. So let’s make adding best-in-class conferencing and tiered storage a priority, then track user migration post-rollout to the previous quarter.

2. Our pricing can help us find new markets

We’re competitively priced compared to Slack, and we have great language support out of the box. So we could pivot slightly to try and capture the educational sector – specifically, in emerging markets. In fact, this might help turn some of our weaknesses into strengths, if we determine that the educational sector doesn’t require all the meat and potatoes found in enterprise apps.

Obviously, those are just example insights based on examples SWOT findings – for an example company. Yours will be different, but you should be able to take what’s on your table and turn it into an actionable business strategy. If you can’t, you might not have enough insight from market research, focus groups, or customer feedback to fill out each section honestly.

Ultimately, your SWOT analysis is an enabler for positive product change that can help you carve out a larger slice of the market, and win over new fans.

And the same thing goes for your spaghetti alfredo. 

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