Complementors, Porter’s sixth force, are companies or entities that sell or offer goods or services that are compatible with, or complementary to, the goods or services produced and sold in a given industry. Complementary goods offer more value to the consumer together than apart. When one product or service complements another there exists a condition called complementarity; a sort of commercial symbiosis. Complementors are often considered the sixth force of Porter’s industry analysis framework. The presence of Porter’s complementors can influence the competitive structure of an industry.
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Porter’s six forces provide a method for industry analysis. The presence of the sixth force of Porter, complementors, can benefit or hurt the firms competing in an industry, depending on the circumstances. If business is booming for the complementors, then this could positively affect the business of the firms in the given industry. On the other hand, if business is slow for the complementors, this could adversely affect the business of the firms in the given industry. So, complementors and complementary goods do not necessarily increase or decrease the competitiveness of an industry, they merely add another layer to the structural complexity of the competitive environment.
According to Porter’s six forces, complementary goods offer more value to the consumer together than apart. When one product or service complements another, there exists a condition called complementarity. For illustrative purposes, please consider the following complement examples.
A very simple example of complementary goods, the sixth force of Porter’s framework, is the hotdog and the hotdog bun. A normal consumer prefers to eat a hotdog in a hotdog bun. Rarely would a consumer purchase hotdogs without also purchasing hotdog buns, and rarely would a consumer purchase hotdog buns without also purchasing hotdogs. Under the six forces model Porter coined, these two products are complementary.
In the six forces of competition, an example of complementary industries is the tourism industry and the airline industry. When a consumer heads to a tourist destination, he or she often gets there on an airplane. Similarly, whenever a consumer travels on an airplane, that consumer is most likely going to visit a destination which is a part of the tourism industry, such as a hotel or a rental car agency. These two industries are proved complementary by the six forces analysis.
Porters sixth force has become a central theory to in business management and is commonly discussed to this day. As you use Porter’s sixth force of competition to shape profit potential, it’s important to expand analysis by evaluating the entire external environment. Download the free External Analysis whitepaper to overcome obstacles and be prepared to react to external forces.
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