A strategic group is a concept used in strategic management that groups companies within an industry that have similar business models or similar combinations of strategies. For example, the fast-food industry can be portrayed as consisting of several strategic groups. The number of groups within an industry and their composition depends on what dimensions you use to define the groups. Strategists often use a two dimensional grid to display the position of each company along to the two most important dimensions. Strategy is the Direction and scope of an organization over the long term which achieves advantages for the organization.
The term was coined by Hunt (1972) in his analysis of the appliance industry where he discovered less competitive rivalry than industry concentration ratios suggest there should be. He attributed this to the existence of subgroups within the industry that effectively reduce the number of competitors in each market.
Michael Porter (1980) developed the concept and applied it within his overall system of strategic analysis. He explained strategic groups in terms of what he called "mobility barriers". These are similar to the entry barriers that exist in industries, except they apply to groups within an industry. Because of these mobility barriers a company can get drawn into one strategic group or another. Strategic groups are not to be confused with Porter's generic strategies which are internal strategies and do not reflect the diversity of strategic styles within an industry.
Originally, the analysis of intra-industry variations in the competitive behaviour and performance of firms was based primarily on the use of secondary financial and accounting data. The study of strategic groups from a cognitive perspective, however, has gained prominence during the past years (Hodgkinson 1997).
Strategic Group Analysis (SGA) aims to identify organizations with similar strategic characteristics, following similar strategies or competing on similar bases.
Such groups can usually be identified using two or perhaps three sets of characteristics as the bases of competition.