PESTEL Implications of COVID-19

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coronaviruses that cause illnesses such as common cold, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)[1]. Some of the identified COVID-19 symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, fever, muscle or body aches, sore throat, headache, fatigue, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting and nasal congestion or runny nose[2]. COVID-19 can be severe; the viral infection has caused increasing number of deaths in many countries since its discovery in Wuhan, China in December 2019[3]. According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), scientists are still learning more about COVID-19 each day, but older adults and people who have certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk of severe illness and even death[4].


Scientists derived the name “coronaviruses” from the crown-like spikes that appear on their surfaces when seen under a microscope[5]. COVID-19 is therefore one of the large family of viruses, which are commonly exist in humans and different species of animals (such as bats, cats, camels and cattle). There are many types of human coronaviruses, but COVID-19 is a new disease that has not previously been seen in human beings[6].

Human-to-human infections caused by animal coronaviruses are rarely seen as was evident in two previous coronaviruses namely MERS-CoV[7] and SARS-CoV[8]. However, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is considered a beta coronavirus when compared to MERS-CoV[9] and SARS-CoV. One major similarity is that the origin of all three viruses has been traced to bats. The sequences from the US patients are similar to the one that China initially posted, thus, consolidating claims that COVID-19 pandemic emerged from an animal reservoir. Nonetheless, global scientists are still investigating the exact cause of this virus[10].


A PESTLE analysis is a model used to gain insight into the basic macro- and micro-environmental factors that have direct impact on the performance of organizations[11]. The acronym PESTEL stands for Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental and Legal[12]. Francis J. Aguilar developed the model in his 1967 book on “ETPS,” a mnemonic he used to depict 4 aspects of his taxonomy vis-a-vis: economic, technical, political and social factors. Aguilar’s book opened up the lines of communication and analysis, thus, the Harvard Business School professor is celebrated as the founder of PEST analysis although his popular analytic tool did not start as PEST[13].

Firstly, the author of this paper chose a PESTEL analysis because it is a powerful tool that enables business managers to positively align with the powerful forces of change within macro and micro environments[14]. With good understanding of PESTEL, business leaders can take advantage of change to consistently increase productivity and achieve competitiveness[15]. Secondly, good use of PESTEL analysis helps managers to streamline organizational activities with less-risky and fail-proof strategies. Thirdly, PESTEL is useful before, during and after new products/services are launched, mainly because it helps users to avoid risks of assumptions during research reports, business/strategic planning, marketing planning, and business/product development reports. Generally, PESTEL helps users to quickly adapt to changing realities within any business environment[16]. The author therefore used the strategic tool to broaden understanding of the pandemic’s impact on global economies, with much emphasis on the three political systems analysed in this research[17].


This section provides some traditional areas of business where the PESTEL Analysis can be applied (e.g. business planning, marketing, product development, and organizational management.

  • Business Planning

PESTLE Analysis provides entrepreneurs and business managers with a safe start for new business endeavours and/or different ideas to be integrated in an existing plan. It provides the business leaders and top management executives with data, feedback and information about relevant factors that are capable of influencing business decisions, activities and outcomes. When the PESTEL framework is used along with a SWOT Analysis, it can help identify previously unknown factors (within the organization) or new trends in a familiar business ecosystem (that is, external factors) which users can explore to create value and increase competitiveness. Basically, a SWOT Analysis refers to the identified organizational strengths and weaknesses (also known as internal factors) and the opportunities and threats from the external business environment that should be considered during the decision-making process to avoid negative outcomes.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was shortage of masks, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), oxygen and even drinkable water—among other essential products. Manufacturing companies were incapacitated due to the lockdown, quarantine measures, and unexpected disruptions in the supply chain. But using innovation and strategic management (based on PESTEL Analysis of the COVID-19 era), and the need for corporate social responsibility (CSR), other companies in the manufacturing sector (e.g. perfume and alcohol) converted their facilities to produce and distribute safe water in various geographical locations.

  • Marketing

PESTLE Analysis has huge relevance in the marketing domain. It greatly influences marketing plans and their implementation strategies—either for a product or service. The PESTEL model also determines the most effective strategies to be applied in marketing (based on information obtained through the analytical analysis) to differentiate products/services, increase market visibility, and achieve sustainable profits.

The global e-commerce sector experienced business boost at the peak of the COVID-19 period due to lockdown rules that accelerated use of media advertising and online shopping platforms. Similarly, governments and healthcare organizations/professionals explored the mass communication channels as the major outlet for disseminating information on how and why people should use face masks and hand sanitizers as well as other individual safety measures capable of controlling the virus. Using the PESTEL Analysis, grocery vendors and some eat-in restaurants (including pharmacies) established or liaised with logistics companies to sustain service delivery to consumers’ doorsteps.

  • Product Development

Product differentiation in business requires knowledge of the external factors such consumer behaviours, purchasing power of buyers, social trends, technology integration, innovations by competitors. The PESTEL framework therefore proves relevant in decisions about the 4Ps of Marketing (Product, Price, Place, Promotion). However, the benefits of technology diffusion in business cannot be ignored—even during a crisis period. For example, COVID-19 guidelines restricted movements but stirred initiatives among innovators, scientists, technicians and pharmacists to produce effective, safe and affordable drugs, health management systems, and highly responsive internet-based and AI-powered telehealth services.

  • Organizational Management

While PESTLE Analysis takes into account the major external features, it also affects organizational structure and internal functioning, especially in leadership, work process and decision making. For example, the PESTEL Analysis may concern the political makeup of the organization or the fiscal factor of project funds, thereby determining the success or failure of every business.

Many organizations paused activities during the lockdown but eventually closed down due to management-related challenges. Managerial incompetence arising from poor understanding of the business environment as well as lack of strategic/innovative management ideas were some of the main causes of failure during the pandemic. Many businesses in the post-COVID 19 era, including healthcare organizations, are experiencing low sales and decreasing turnover due to inadequate support for creative ideas and poor use of the PESTEL analysis.

  • Research

PESTLE Analysis is a good way to study the environmental factors affecting project planning, implementation, and performance assessment. While it may be rewarding to apply the PESTEL framework in a particular project, evidence-based studies show there may be unexpected risks in other projects (within similar conditions) that will require users to adjust or change current strategies. For example, it takes between 5 to 18 years and costs about $200-$500 million (£149-374 million) to develop a vaccine[18]. It is a lengthy, complex process where few candidates proceed from early stages of discovery to approval and manufacturing[19]. To ensure safety throughout research and development, vaccine developers have historically employed a sequential process, marked by frequent pauses for data analysis and quality improvement.

But there was need to change traditional timelines and workflows when the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome – Coronavirus 2 (SARs-CoV-2) virus began spreading in late 2019 and early 2020. With millions of people worldwide contracting coronavirus starting in late 2019 (COVID-19), vaccine developers were faced with the enormous challenge of producing a safe, effective vaccine in months, not years, to help stop the global footprint of the deadly disease. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a research roadmap that established a global imperative to accelerate research as “a moral obligation to learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible.[20]

Through research and development (R&D), scientists and innovators are changing vaccine development—now and in the future—by leveraging collaboration, not competition. Also, stakeholders in the global healthcare ecosystem are willingly sharing the common goal of countering the virus by providing long-term immunity. Generally, every individual and household across the world has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and all hands are on deck against the virus. Everyone is therefore expected to avoid cutting corners on safety, immunogenicity, or compliance.

[1] Roth, S., Clausen, L. and Möller, S. “COVID-19. Scenarios of a superfluous crisis”, 2021. Kybernetes, Vol. 50 No. 5, pp. 1621-1632.

[2] Kosciejew, M.R.H. “The nonpharmaceutical interventionist (NPI) signs of the coronavirus pandemic: a documentary typology and case study of COVID-19 signage” 2021,  Journal of Documentation, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print

[3] Noor, S., Guo, Y., Shah, S.H.H., Fournier-Viger, P. and Nawaz, M.S. “Analysis of public reactions to the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on Twitter”, 2020, Kybernetes

[4] Wexler, M.N. and Oberlander, J. “COVID-19 as a super crisis: implications for place management”, 2021, Journal of Place Management and Development, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print

[5] Sahoo, S. and Pandey, S. “Evaluating research performance of Coronavirus and Covid-19 pandemic using scientometric indicators”, 2020. Online Information Review, Vol. 44 No. 7, pp. 1443-1461.

[6] Kosciejew, M.R.H., “The nonpharmaceutical interventionist (NPI) signs of the coronavirus pandemic: a documentary typology and case study of COVID-19 signage”, 2021, Journal of Documentation, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.

[7] Gupta, V. and Sahu, G. “Virus Outbreaks and Tourism Resilience Strategies: A Perspective of Asian Countries”, 2021. Kulshreshtha, S.K. (Ed.) Virus Outbreaks and Tourism Mobility (Tourism Security-Safety and Post Conflict Destinations), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 59-74.

[8] Ibid

[9] Gupta, V. and Sahu, G. “Virus Outbreaks and Tourism Resilience Strategies: A Perspective of Asian Countries”, 2021. Kulshreshtha, S.K. (Ed.) Virus Outbreaks and Tourism Mobility (Tourism Security-Safety and Post Conflict Destinations), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 59-74.

[10] R Slagle, D., McIntyre, J.J., Chatham-Carpenter, A. and Reed, H.A., “The perfect storm in the midst of a pandemic: the use of information within an institution’s concurrent crises”, 2021, Online Information Review, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print

[11] Diaz Ruiz, C.A., Baker, J.J., Mason, K. and Tierney, K. “Market-scanning and market-shaping: why are firms blindsided by market-shaping acts?”, 2020. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 35 No. 9, pp. 1389-1401.

[12] Masih, J. , Rajkumar, R. , Matharu, P. and Sharma, A. Market Capturing and Business Expansion Strategy for Gluten-Free Foods in India and USA Using PESTEL Model. 2019. Agricultural Sciences, 10, 202-213

[13] Francis J. Aguilar. Scanning the business environment.(1967). Macmillan; New York

[14] Chhabra, A., Munjal, M., Mishra, P.C., Singh, K., Das, D., Kuhar, N. and Vats, M. “Medical tourism in the COVID-19 era: opportunities, challenges and the way ahead” (2021). Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, Vol. 13 No. 5, pp. 660-665.

[15] Fuchs, C. “Everyday Life and Everyday Communication in Coronavirus Capitalism”, Communicating COVID-19 (Society Now). (2021). Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 17-61.

[16] Riahi Dorcheh, F., Razavi Hajiagha, S.H., Rahbari, M., Jafari-Sadeghi, V. and Amoozad Mahdiraji, H. “Identification, analysis and improvement of red meat supply chain strategies considering the impact of COVID-19 pandemic: a hybrid SWOT-QSPM approach in an emerging economy”, 2021. British Food Journal, Vol. 123 No. 12, pp. 4194-4223.

[17] Nadeem, M., Khalid, N., Zainab, S. and Junaid-ur-Rahman, S. “Food and immunity: a pragmatic approach to mitigate corona viruses attack” (2021). Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.

[18] Kis, Z. S. (2018). Emerging technologies for low-cost rapid vaccine manufacture. Biotechnology Journal. Retrieved from

[19] Lurie, N. S. (2020, May 21). Developing Covid-19 vaccines at pandemic speed. The New England Journal of Medicine, 1969-1973. Retrieved from

[20] World Health Organization. (2020). A coordinated global research roadmap: 2019 novel coronavirus.Geneva: R&D Blueprint. Retrieved from


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