Meaning of Diversification

Diversification is an act of an existing entity branching out into a new business opportunity. This corporate restructuring strategy enables the entity to enter into a new market segment in which it does not already operate. The decision to diversify can prove to be a challenging decision for the entity as it can lead to extraordinary rewards with risks.

Some very famous success stories of diversification are General Electric and Disney. However, the entry of Quaker oats into the fruit juice business, Snapple, lead to a very costly failure.

After knowing the meaning, we’ll see the reasons why companies opt for the same.

Why Do Companies Diversify?

The following are the reasons why firms opt for diversification:

  • For growth in business operations
  • To ensure maximum utilization of the existing resources and capabilities
  • To escape from unattractive industry environments

For learning and gaining more knowledge of the concept of diversification, let’s look at its advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages Of Diversification

The following are the advantages:

  • As the economy changes, the spending patterns of the people change. Diversifying into a number of industries or product lines can help create a balance for the entity during these ups and downs.
  • There will always be unpleasant surprises within a single investment. Being diversified can help in balancing such surprises.
  • It helps to maximize the use of potentially underutilized resources.
  • Certain industries may fall down for a specific time frame owing to economic factors. Diversification provides movement away from activities that may be declining.

Disadvantages Of Diversification

 The following are the disadvantages:

  • Entities entirely involved in profit-making segments will enjoy profit maximization. However, a diversified entity will lose out due to having limited investment in the specific segment. Therefore, it limits the growth opportunities for an entity.
  • Diversifying into a new market segment will demand new skill sets. Lack of expertise in the new field can prove to be a setback for the entity.
  • A mismanaged diversification or excessive ambition can lead to a company over expanding into too many new directions simultaneously. In such a case, all old and new sectors of the entity will suffer due to insufficient resources and lack of attention.
  • A widely diversified company will not be able to respond quickly to market changes. The focus on the operations will be limited, thereby limiting the innovation within the entity.

In understanding the advantages and disadvantages, we’ll see the types of diversification strategies.

Types Of Diversification Strategies

The following are the types of diversification strategies:

Horizontal Diversification

This strategy of horizontal diversification refers to an entity offering new services or developing new products that appeal to the firm’s current customer base. For example, a dairy company producing cheese adds a new variety of cheese to its product line.

Vertical Diversification

The vertical diversification takes place when a company goes back to the previous or next stage of its production cycle. For example, a company involved in the reconstruction of houses starts selling construction materials and paints. It may be forward integration or backward integration.

Concentric Diversification

In a concentric diversification strategy, the entity introduces new products with an aim to fully utilize the potential of the prevailing technologies and marketing system. For example, a bakery making bread starts producing biscuits.

Conglomerate diversification

In this form, an entity launches new products or services that have no relation to the current products or distribution channels. A firm may adopt this strategy to appeal to an all-new group of customers. The high growth scope and return on investment in a new market segment may prompt a company to take this option.

Decision Making: Whether to Diversify or not.

For the purpose of decision-making, we can adapt the technique of capital budgeting along with CAPM (Capital Asset Pricing Model). For that, first of all, we should project the cash flows for the new line of business. These cash flows should be discounted with the risk-adjusted discounting rate. In order to find a risk-adjusted discounting rate, we have to take the help of a proxy firm. A proxy firm means a company already dealing in that new line of business.


Diversification must be a well-thought-out step for an entity. It can boost the firm’s growth, thereby leading it towards wealth maximization. However, it can also prove to be a costly failure for certain entities. A detailed analysis of the potential market must be conducted before opting for diversification.

Sanjay Borad

Sanjay Bulaki Borad

MBA-Finance, CMA, CS, Insolvency Professional, B'Com

Sanjay Borad, Founder of eFinanceManagement, is a Management Consultant with 7 years of MNC experience and 11 years in Consultancy. He caters to clients with turnovers from 200 Million to 12,000 Million, including listed entities, and has vast industry experience in over 20 sectors. Additionally, he serves as a visiting faculty for Finance and Costing in MBA Colleges and CA, CMA Coaching Classes.

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