In one post, I wrote:
The usual suspects listed as stakeholders are: customers, employees/managers, owners/shareholders, government (regulators etc), members of the media, securities analysts, suppliers, special interest groups, and labor groups.
The idea is that when you make a company decision, you should consider how that decision will influence or be influenced by your stakeholders. Makes sense, especially in this age of increasing transparency and with stakeholders finding new ways to make sure their voices are heard online and off-line.
Now consider whether your list should include competitors. Every company's performance is affected by what its competitors do...and every company affects, however indirectly, the performance of its competitors.
In a second post, I wrote:
Of course, competitors are legally forbidden to discuss and coordinate pricing plans and activities (at least in the U.S. and Europe). But that doesn't mean a company can't target a rival's customers or set a goal of dethroning the market leader. . . Both situations would certainly have an effect on the performance of the company and its rivals. In both situations, competitors would be stakeholders of each other.Consider what happened this week, when Amazon introduced its new Kindle Fire e-reader/tablet computer. Jeff Bezos told the media conference: "We are building premium products and offering them at non-premium prices." Clearly, he's talking about how Amazon differentiates itself from Apple. The Kindle Fire is no iPad, but it will very likely affect Apple's performance this holiday season, just as Amazon's pricing of its streaming movies and TV shows will affect Netflix's performance this holiday season. Then there's Research in Motion, which is struggling to sell its PlayBook tablet.
No marketer should focus on competitors as its main stakeholder group. Other stakeholders--especially customers--are much more important. Yet competitors have the ability to affect the performance of a single company and its entire industry, just as that company's actions can affect the performance of all its competitors and the overall indusry.
That's why Amazon, Apple, RIM, and Netflix have to keep an eye on each other as stakeholders. They target many of the same customer segments; their strengths add to a healthy marketplace for customers and for competition; their weaknesses open the door to new opportunities for each other.