Who is your market? The answer to this apparently simple question (or answering the better question of ‘who are your markets?’) has major implications for business strategy and your business model. Even the simplest of products have multiple types of stakeholders that can drive demand. These relationships exist at category and individual levels, exerting influences that can affect product access and consumption.

When mapping your stakeholder relationships for stakeholder analysis you need to address two key questions.

  1. Which is more important in driving your success; buying or consuming?
  2. Which demand strategy will be the most effective in increasing sales; sales push or demand-pull?

While the answer is often a combination of both for each of these questions, one will tend to dominate and both should be considered. Changing the focus may also help uncover category transforming strategies. Microsoft’s early success was from changing from pull to push in having software pre-installed, while Apple’s later success came from doing the opposite.

After considering the scope of your audit, you need to create stakeholder maps based on three different world views.

  1. Internal World View. Who do the marketing, sales, regulatory, governance and other business delivery areas see as the different stakeholders and what type of influence they exert?
  2. Consumer/ Buyer World View. How frequently they have contact with each type of stakeholder, what type of influence they have, and how much of an impact did it have?
  3. Stakeholder World View. Finally, who the stakeholders see as the influencers and if there are critical key opinion leaders for one-on-one relationship building?

Each world view will offer different insights into who is important and how they exert their influence. However, a business level summary map that combines each view is needed to prioritise resourcing. The map below is a simplified and fictional map for a simple pharmacy only healthcare product. The thicker lines represent the level of influence on the buyer’s decision, with orange being the critical relationships. Dashed lines represent information based influence while solid lines are the access and supply influence.


stake holder map

OTC Stakeholder Map


To get the full business benefit and insights from the map you need to determine the relative impact of different stakeholders have and what potential impact they could have. Part of this process includes mapping your own sales, marketing and servicing activities against the map and playing out scenarios of different ways of engaging your stakeholders and the impact it could have, including budgetary and workflow.

In your stakeholder analysis, also consider the maps from the perspective of initial buying, consumption and repeat buying. For some categories this may even include disposal.

Apart from using maps to understand where the best leverage points are for your business, stakeholder maps are also valuable for long-range scenario planning and wargaming sessions.

This is a basic overview of stakeholder analysis by creating and using stakeholder maps for creating strategies that can drive growth. There are many other aspects to consider when creating effective maps, including the different phases in the buying-consuming lifecycle, and importantly what are the drivers of recommendation and assistance for each of the key stakeholder groups.