Although the influence of the technological segment on technology-based companies such as Panasonic and Apple is readily apparent, technological trends and events help to shape low-tech businesses too. In 2009, Subway started a service called Subway Now. This service allows customers to place their orders in advance using text messages and avoid standing in line at the store. By offering customers this service, Subway is also responding to a trend in the general environment’s social segment: the need to save time in today’s fast-paced society.
E Is for “Environmental”
The environmental segment involves the physical conditions within which organizations operate. It includes factors such as natural disasters, pollution levels, and weather patterns (Table 3.6 “Environmental Factors”). The threat of pollution, for example, has forced municipalities to treat water supplies with chemicals. These chemicals increase the safety of the water but detract from its taste. This has created opportunities for businesses that provide better-tasting water. Rather than consume cheap but bad-tasting tap water, many consumers purchase bottled water. Indeed, according to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, the amount of bottled water consumed by the average American increased from 1.6 gallons in 1976 to 28.3 gallons in 2006 (Earth911). At present, roughly one- third of Americans drink bottled water regularly.
Table 3.6 Environmental Factors Examples of several key trends representing enviornmental factors in the general environment are illustrated
3.3 Evaluating the General Environment 82