SBU in Marketing Explained with Examples

Strategic Business Units, or SBUs, are key to marketing strategies. They help businesses manage their products and markets well. Each SBU acts like its own small company within a bigger one, with a clear goal and audience. It answers directly to the company’s main office. SBUs make marketing more effective, helping companies succeed.

Key Takeaways:

  • An SBU is a fully-functional unit within a larger organization that operates independently.
  • SBUs have their own vision, mission, and direction, and are focused on specific target markets.
  • Companies like Proctor and Gamble and LG have successfully implemented the SBU structure.
  • SBUs allow for quicker decision-making, focused attention, and better tracking of revenues and profits.
  • SBUs foster innovation and independent decision-making, investments, and budgets.

What is a Strategic Business Unit (SBU)?

A Strategic Business Unit, or SBU, is crucial in big companies. It acts like its own company with specific goals and strategies. It works independently, focusing on certain markets and customers. SBUs even have their own HR and training sections.

SBUs are made to work on their own within a big company. They make decisions quickly and use resources wisely. They can quickly adapt to changes and meet their customer’s needs. This leads to better performance and growth.

SBUs help a big company reach its main goals while keeping their unique identity. They have their own plans and face their own challenges. This lets them take advantage of opportunities in the market.

Let’s take a closer look at the structure and characteristics of Strategic Business Units:

Structure and Characteristics of Strategic Business Units

Each SBU has a special setup, different from other parts of the company. A manager or president leads the SBU. They’re in charge of strategy and how well the SBU does.

An SBU has departments like marketing, sales, and finance. These teams work together to achieve the SBU’s goals. This teamwork leads to success.

An SBU is its own business within the bigger company. It controls its resources and faces its own competitors. The leader of an SBU makes key decisions to make sure it does well. SBUs focus on certain business areas or customer groups, using their deep knowledge.

The pros and cons of Strategic Business Units will be discussed next. We’ll look at how SBUs affect a company’s success.

  1. Independent entity operating within a larger organization
  2. Distinct organizational structure and functional departments
  3. Control over resources and competition within their unique market space
  4. Accountability for strategic planning and profitability
  5. Expertise in specific areas of business or target customer segments

Continue reading to discover the benefits of incorporating SBUs within an organization.

Benefits of Having an SBU

An SBU structure brings many advantages to organizations. These benefits boost their market presence and support growth. Let’s look at the main perks of having an SBU:

1. Quicker Decision-Making and Adaptation

SBUs help organizations act quickly and adapt to market changes. With specific teams, decision-making is faster. This cuts down on red tape and helps to tackle new opportunities or threats quicker.

2. Focused Attention on Specific Product Categories or Markets

Creating SBUs lets companies focus on particular products or markets. This focused approach boosts market knowledge and marketing strategies. It also enhances product development, giving a competitive edge.

3. Enhanced Tracking of Revenues, Costs, and Profits

An SBU structure offers clear financial insights. It allows for detailed tracking of money, costs, and profits. This clarity helps in managing funds wisely, making smart moves, and taking informed decisions.

4. Fostered Innovation and Independent Decision-Making

SBUs encourage innovation and independent thinking. They provide freedom for making decisions, investments, and setting budgets. This enables quick testing of new ideas, solving problems creatively, and promoting an innovative culture.

These units are cradles for innovation, pushing the organization forward. They prepare the company for a successful future.

SBUs bring agility, focus, innovation, and better financial performance to companies. Using an SBU structure sets a path for growth and competitive advantage in today’s fast-paced business environment.

Examples of Strategic Business Units

Many successful companies use SBUs to manage their different business areas. Let’s look at companies that do this well:

1. Proctor and Gamble

Proctor and Gamble (P&G) is known for its household goods. It uses SBUs for various product types. P&G has SBUs for Beauty, Grooming, Health Care, and more. Each SBU works on its own to meet its market’s needs. This helps P&G stay on top of its game.

2. LG

LG is big in the electronics world. It set up SBUs for things like home appliances and phones. This way, LG can make innovations for each SBU and reach the right customers.

3. Telecom Companies

Telecom businesses have SBUs for mobile, internet, and TV services. They target specific customer needs, keep up with technology, and offer customized solutions.

4. European Fashion Brands

European fashion brands use SBUs for different areas of the world. They meet the unique tastes and styles of each area. This helps them design and sell their products better in each region.

5. Banks

Banks also use SBUs for different types of customers. They have SBUs for retail, corporate, and private banking. This helps them serve their customers’ varied needs better.

These examples show that many industries use SBUs to improve their operations and growth. Through SBUs, companies can focus better on each market segment, use their resources wisely, and stay ahead in their field.

Structure of a Strategic Business Unit

The structure of a strategic business unit (SBU) changes based on what the company needs. It often has a leader who takes care of the strategy and success. This person ensures the SBU performs well.

Different departments within the SBU work together closely. They aim to make sure the SBU runs smoothly and reaches its targets. These departments include:

  1. Marketing: Responsible for making and carrying out plans to promote what the SBU offers.
  2. Sales: Works on making sales and keeping strong relationships with customers.
  3. Operations: Takes care of making and delivering products or services, focusing on being efficient and high-quality.
  4. Finance: Deals with money planning, budgeting, and analysis to help meet the SBU’s financial goals.
  5. Human Resources (HR): Handles hiring, training, and employee issues within the SBU.
  6. Research and Development (R&D): Pushes for new ideas and develops new products.

SBUs might also have teams or divisions focused on specific products, projects, or areas. This helps them pay more attention to specific parts of their operation.

Example SBU Organizational Structure:

Department Responsibilities
Marketing Develop and implement marketing strategies, conduct market research, and manage product promotions.
Sales Generate revenue through sales activities, build and maintain customer relationships, and achieve sales targets.
Operations Oversee production processes, manage logistics and supply chain, and ensure efficient delivery of products/services.
Finance Handle financial planning, budgeting, and analysis, manage financial resources, and ensure profitability.
Human Resources (HR) Recruit and retain employees, provide training and development opportunities, and manage employee relations.
Research and Development (R&D) Lead product innovation, conduct research, and develop new technologies or solutions.

This setup ensures all parts of the SBU work well together. It aims at making the SBU successful in its goals.

Characteristics of a Strategic Business Unit

Strategic Business Units, or SBUs, have unique traits that make them stand out in a company. These traits help SBUs work as independent units. They play a big part in the company’s success. Let’s look at what makes an SBU special:

  1. Separate businesses: SBUs are like mini-companies inside a bigger one. They face their own competition. They manage their resources on their own.
  2. Strategic planning and profitability: An SBU’s leader takes care of its strategy and profits. They make choices that fit the SBU’s goals and outcomes they want.
  3. Distinct areas of business: SBUs focus on different parts of the company, like product types or customer groups. This focus lets them get really good at what they do, in their own area.
  4. Unique markets and customer segments: SBUs go after different markets or specific groups of customers. They adjust their strategies and offerings to meet these customers’ needs and likes.

Example: Proctor and Gamble’s SBUs

Proctor and Gamble, or P&G, perfectly shows how an SBU structure works. P&G has separate SBUs for various products like Beauty, Grooming, and Health Care. Each SBU works on its own but helps with P&G’s big picture goals and success.

SBUs give companies a chance to zero in on certain markets. They can better use their resources and bring new ideas to life in different parts of the business. That’s why SBUs are so important in a company’s strategy plan.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Strategic Business Units

Strategic Business Units (SBUs) bring several benefits to organizations. These include:

Simplifying Strategic Management

SBUs make managing different parts of a business easier. They let companies focus on specific product types or markets. This division helps strategic management be more straightforward, leading to better decision-making and strategy execution.

Improving Departmental Collaboration

SBUs boost teamwork across the company. They have clear goals, so departments can work together towards common objectives. This helps in creating new ideas, sharing knowledge, and making the best methods across various areas.

Optimizing High-Volume Organizations

Large companies with many products and markets can use SBUs to improve. They allow better control of expenses and more accountable management. They also make tracking money, costs, and profits easier.

But, it’s key to look at the downsides of SBUs:

Communication Challenges with Upper Management

SBUs work on their own but still within a bigger company. This can make talking to upper management hard. It might slow down making choices, cause strategy problems and make working together tough. Having good ways to communicate and regular updates can help solve these issues.

Potential Internal Tension related to Funding

SBUs often fight over the company’s money and resources. This can lead to tension. Some SBUs might get more money than others, causing unfair feelings. Setting clear rules for giving out resources and making decisions openly can reduce these tensions.

Even with these downsides, the positives of SBUs usually win out. They help companies manage strategies better, encourage teamwork, and improve performance in a changing business world.

The Planning Process of a Strategic Business Unit

The planning process of a Strategic Business Unit (SBU) is essential for success. It involves key steps to assess, set goals, strategize, and evaluate performance. Understanding each step helps an SBU plan effectively:

Situational Analysis

An SBU starts with a situational analysis. This means looking at both internal and external factors that affect performance. Internal factors include its strengths and what it can do. External ones are about the market, competition, and trends. Understanding these factors helps identify what to do next.

Setting Objectives

After analyzing the situation, it’s time to set objectives. Goals should be clear, realistic, and linked to the company’s overall aims. They give direction and focus efforts. Objectives could involve growing market share or launching new products.

Developing Strategies

With objectives set, the SBU works on strategies to meet those goals. Strategies are about the actions and plans to achieve success. They help decide where to focus and how to use resources. Considering what makes the SBU stand out is crucial here.

Implementing the Strategy

After crafting strategies, the SBU puts them into action. This step turns plans into reality and ensures resources back the implementation. It involves setting clear roles and timelines. Implementing the strategy needs teamwork and tracking to stay on course.

Monitoring and Control

The SBU must watch and adjust its activities as it implements the strategy. Measuring performance against goals is key. This helps spot when things aren’t going as planned. Gathering feedback is also important to keep strategies relevant.

Evaluation and Adjustments

Finally, the SBU reviews how things went and adjusts as needed. This review is thorough, looking at what worked and what didn’t. It’s a chance to tweak strategies to better meet goals. Constant evaluation helps stay aligned with market changes.

The planning process of an SBU is ongoing and detailed. It demands deep analysis and flexibility to adapt to new information. By sticking to this process, SBUs can effectively handle business challenges and reach their targets.

Types of Strategic Business Units

Strategic Business Units (SBUs) are grouped in different ways. This lets companies organize and run their parts smoothly. The SBUs have various kinds:

1. Product-based SBUs

This type sorts units by product lines. For example, a company making many types of items might use this. It helps them focus on each product or group properly. They can then create special marketing plans, research and development, and reach the right customers.

2. Market-based SBUs

Market-based SBUs are organized by target markets or customer groups. This setup helps companies focus resources and plans on certain markets. Take a car maker, for example. They might have separate SBUs for passenger cars, commercial vehicles, and electric cars. Each one meets the needs of different customers.

3. Geography-based SBUs

Geography-based SBUs are about location. Companies use them to tailor strategies to different areas. This is common in big companies working in many countries. They can meet each area’s unique demands and follow local laws.

4. Customer-based SBUs

Customer-based SBUs target different customer groups. This way, companies can offer special products and experiences. A bank might have SBUs for regular people, small businesses, and rich clients, for example.

5. Innovation-based SBUs

Innovation-based SBUs help companies come up with new ideas. These units work on new products, tech, or services. They get more freedom to try new things and find fresh markets or technology.

6. Function-based SBUs

Function-based SBUs focus on certain job areas like sales or research. This lets different parts of a company work better together. Each part has its own goals and plans.

Companies might stick to one way of sorting SBUs or mix a few, based on what they need. By fitting their SBUs into these groups, companies can better handle their parts and make their marketing better.

Example of Strategic Business Units – Proctor and Gamble

Proctor and Gamble (P&G) is a leading example of the SBU structure in action. They make a wide range of products. To manage this diversity, P&G divides its business into separate SBUs for better focus.

P&G’s SBUs match with different product types, aiding in smart decisions and precise marketing. Now, let’s examine some of Proctor and Gamble’s SBUs:

1. Beauty

  • Skin Care
  • Hair Care
  • Cosmetics

2. Grooming

  • Razors
  • Shaving Creams
  • Personal Care Products

3. Health Care

  • Oral Care
  • Over-the-Counter Medications
  • Health Supplements

4. Fabric & Home Care

  • Laundry Care
  • Home Cleaning Products
  • Air Fresheners

5. Baby, Feminine & Family Care

  • Baby Care Products
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Adult Incontinence Products

Each SBU at P&G works independently with its own team. They focus on product creation, marketing, and financial results. This setup lets P&G quickly meet the unique needs of different markets.

P&G shows the strength of SBUs in handling varied product lines and meeting diverse customer demands. Their approach shows the power of SBUs in sparking innovation, ensuring market focus, and driving growth.


Strategic Business Units (SBUs) play a key role in marketing for big companies. They help manage a wide range of products and markets. SBUs focus on specific goals and strategies, making them agile and responsible.

This structure helps companies grow and stand out in a competitive market. SBUs focus on particular products or customer groups. This sharp focus boosts their success. They also make it easier to track money, guiding better decisions.

Overall, SBUs bring many advantages like more innovation and efficient decisions. They help companies adapt and manage various market segments. Adopting an SBU model strengthens marketing and business results.


What is a Strategic Business Unit (SBU)?

An SBU, or Strategic Business Unit, is a part of a bigger company. It works on its own, with its unique goals and strategies. This unit looks after its profits and operations.

What are the benefits of having an SBU?

SBUs help in making fast decisions and adjusting to market shifts. They focus on specific products or markets. This leads to better understanding of costs and profits.SBUs also encourage new ideas. They manage their own choices, finances, and plans.

Can you provide some examples of successful Strategic Business Units?

Sure. Companies like Proctor and Gamble, LG, telecom firms, European fashion labels, and banks have great SBUs.

What is the structure of a Strategic Business Unit?

An SBU’s structure may vary. Usually, it has a manager or leader who guides its strategy and success. It comes with its teams, like marketing and finance, focusing on specific product areas or regions.

What are the characteristics of a Strategic Business Unit?

SBUs act as independent businesses. They have their own competitors and control resources. The SBU head plans strategies and ensures profits.They work in special business areas, often bringing unique skills in creation or management. SBUs also cater to different markets or customer groups.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Strategic Business Units?

SBUs offer benefits like easier strategic management and better teamwork. They suit large organizations well. On the downside, they might face communication gaps with top management and funding disputes.

What is the planning process of a Strategic Business Unit?

Planning for an SBU includes analyzing the situation, setting goals, and creating strategies. Then, executing the plan, checking progress, and making necessary changes. This cycle repeats to stay in step with the market.

What types of Strategic Business Units are there?

You can group SBUs by product, market, region, customer type, innovation, or function. Firms mix these types to fit their unique goals and needs.

Can you provide an example of a company with Strategic Business Units?

Proctor and Gamble uses SBUs effectively. They have different units for product lines like Beauty, Grooming, and Health Care. Each SBU works on its own but aims to support the company’s main strategy.
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