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How can the Growth-Share Matrix be adapted for digital businesses, especially those operating on platform models?


This article provides a detailed response to: How can the Growth-Share Matrix be adapted for digital businesses, especially those operating on platform models? For a comprehensive understanding of Growth-Share Matrix, we also include relevant case studies for further reading and links to Growth-Share Matrix best practice resources.

TLDR Adapting the Growth-Share Matrix for digital platforms involves incorporating Network Effects, Data Monetization Potential, and Scalability, with examples like Spotify and Netflix illustrating the transition through quadrants via data utilization and customer-centric innovation.

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The Growth-Share Matrix, a strategic business tool developed by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in the 1970s, has been a staple in guiding organizations in portfolio management and resource allocation. Traditionally, this matrix categorizes business units into four quadrants—Stars, Question Marks, Cash Cows, and Dogs—based on their market growth rate and market share. However, the digital age, characterized by rapid technological advancements and the rise of platform models, necessitates an adaptation of this classic framework to remain relevant and effective.

Adapting the Matrix for Digital Platforms

The essence of digital platform businesses, such as those operated by Amazon, Uber, and Airbnb, lies in their ability to create value by facilitating exchanges between two or more interdependent groups, usually consumers and producers. This model significantly differs from traditional business models because of its network effects, scalability, and the importance of data. Therefore, when adapting the Growth-Share Matrix for digital platforms, the following dimensions should be considered:

  • Network Effects: The value of a platform increases as more users join the network. This dynamic can be integrated into the matrix by evaluating a platform's market share not just in terms of revenue, but also in terms of user base and engagement levels.
  • Data Monetization Potential: Digital platforms often have significant amounts of user data, which can be leveraged for targeted advertising, product development, and improving customer experiences. The ability to monetize this data effectively could be a criterion for identifying potential Stars or Cash Cows.
  • Scalability: The ease with which a platform can grow without proportionately increasing its costs is a critical factor. Platforms that can scale efficiently might move quickly from Question Marks to Stars.

Moreover, the speed of innovation and the iterative nature of digital platforms mean that the lifecycle of products and services is often shorter and more volatile than in traditional businesses. This necessitates a more dynamic approach to categorization, with frequent reassessment and a willingness to pivot quickly based on real-time data and market feedback.

Learn more about Customer Experience Growth-Share Matrix Product Development

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Real-World Application and Examples

Consider the case of Spotify, a leading digital music service. Initially, Spotify could have been classified as a Question Mark, given its innovative platform model in a highly competitive market. However, through strategic partnerships, data-driven product enhancements, and a focus on user experience, Spotify transitioned into a Star. It achieved this by leveraging its user data to enhance personalization and discoverability, thereby increasing user engagement and market share.

Another example is Netflix, which transformed from a DVD rental service to a dominant streaming platform. Netflix's ability to use data analytics for content recommendation and its investment in original content have solidified its position as a Star within the digital entertainment industry. These examples underscore the importance of agility, data utilization, and customer-centric innovation in transitioning through the Growth-Share Matrix quadrants in a digital context.

Furthermore, the rise of blockchain technology and decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms presents new challenges and opportunities. These platforms, by virtue of their decentralized nature, introduce a new dimension to the matrix—decentralization and trust. Organizations operating in this space need to evaluate their position not just based on traditional metrics but also on their ability to foster trust and secure transactions in a decentralized environment.

Learn more about User Experience Data Analytics

Strategic Implications and Actionable Insights

For organizations looking to adapt the Growth-Share Matrix for digital platforms, the first step is to redefine the axes to reflect the nuances of the digital economy. The vertical axis could measure market growth rate in terms of user acquisition and engagement growth, while the horizontal axis could evaluate market share based on network effects and data monetization capabilities. This redefined matrix will provide a more nuanced view of an organization's portfolio, enabling more informed strategic decisions.

Actionable insights include:

  • Investing in data analytics capabilities to understand user behavior and preferences, thereby informing product development and marketing strategies.
  • Focusing on user experience and engagement to strengthen network effects, which are crucial for growth in platform models.
  • Exploring partnerships and collaborations to expand user base and enhance service offerings, thereby moving more quickly through the matrix quadrants.

Finally, organizations must cultivate a culture of agility and innovation, allowing them to respond quickly to market changes and technological advancements. This involves not only adapting business strategies but also embracing digital transformation across the organization to support these strategic shifts. By doing so, organizations can navigate the complexities of the digital economy and leverage the Growth-Share Matrix effectively to drive sustainable growth and competitive advantage.

Learn more about Digital Transformation Competitive Advantage Data Monetization

Best Practices in Growth-Share Matrix

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Growth-Share Matrix Case Studies

For a practical understanding of Growth-Share Matrix, take a look at these case studies.

E-commerce Portfolio Rationalization for Online Retailer

Scenario: The organization in question operates within the e-commerce sector, managing a diverse portfolio of products across multiple categories.

Read Full Case Study

BCG Matrix Analysis for Semiconductor Firm

Scenario: A semiconductor company operating globally is facing challenges in allocating resources efficiently across its diverse product portfolio.

Read Full Case Study

Strategic Portfolio Analysis for Retail Chain in Competitive Sector

Scenario: The organization is a retail chain operating in a highly competitive consumer market, with a diverse portfolio of products ranging from high-turnover items to niche, specialty goods.

Read Full Case Study

Luxury Brand Portfolio Optimization in the High-End Fashion Sector

Scenario: A luxury fashion house is grappling with portfolio optimization amidst shifting consumer trends and market volatility.

Read Full Case Study

BCG Growth-Share Matrix Analysis for a High-Tech Corporation

Scenario: A multinational technology firm is facing challenges interpreting its BCG Growth-Share Matrix.

Read Full Case Study

BCG Matrix Evaluation for Agritech Firm in Competitive Landscape

Scenario: An Agritech firm operating within a highly competitive sector is seeking to evaluate its product portfolio to better allocate resources and drive focused growth.

Read Full Case Study

Explore all Flevy Management Case Studies

Related Questions

Here are our additional questions you may be interested in.

Can the Boston Matrix be effectively applied in non-profit organizations, and if so, how?
The Boston Matrix can be adapted for non-profit organizations to evaluate programs based on potential impact and effectiveness, aiding in Strategic Planning, Resource Allocation, and Impact Maximization. [Read full explanation]
How can the Boston Matrix be adapted for service-oriented businesses where traditional product lifecycle metrics may not apply?
Adapting the Boston Matrix for service-oriented businesses involves redefining axes to "market potential" and "competitive advantage," and incorporating additional dimensions like Customer Satisfaction, Service Innovation, and Operational Excellence to assess future potential and strategic alignment for sustainable growth. [Read full explanation]
What role does customer feedback play in determining the placement of products or services in the BCG Matrix?
Customer feedback is essential in the BCG Matrix for categorizing products as Stars, Question Marks, Cash Cows, or Dogs, guiding Strategic Planning, resource allocation, and maintaining market competitiveness. [Read full explanation]
What impact do sustainability and environmental considerations have on the strategic positioning of business units in the BCG Matrix?
Sustainability reshapes BCG Matrix strategic positioning, enhancing Cash Cows' efficiency, driving Stars' growth, and offering differentiation or divestment for Question Marks and Dogs. [Read full explanation]
How does the Growth-Share Matrix align with agile methodologies in product development and management?
The Growth-Share Matrix and Agile methodologies complement each other in Strategic Planning, Resource Allocation, Market Responsiveness, Innovation, Performance Management, and Operational Excellence, enhancing decision-making in product development and management. [Read full explanation]
How can the BCG Growth-Share Matrix be used to evaluate and prioritize investments in emerging technologies?
The BCG Growth-Share Matrix is a Strategic Planning tool that helps companies prioritize investments in emerging technologies by classifying them into Stars, Question Marks, Cash Cows, and Dogs based on market growth and share. [Read full explanation]

Source: Executive Q&A: Growth-Share Matrix Questions, Flevy Management Insights, 2024


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