How to define the target audience? Who are the stakeholders?

9 February 2024
Reading time 4 minuty

A brand, in order to survive and be able to operate in the market in the long term, must meet specific needs. On the one hand, the needs of customers are crucial, since it is they who, by purchasing products or specific services, provide the company with the money it needs to function. On the other hand, however, increasingly, market success can only be achieved by those companies that have a broader perspective, taking into account the needs and expectations of all audiences – stakeholders.

As early as the early 1980s, managers also began to recognize the correlation. As more and more local communities, employees, local authorities have a voice in the future of an organization, they expect certain attitudes and even want to be in the circulation of information sent by the brand to the environment. Successively we see more and more pressure on corporations from NGO’s, Associations fighting for business transparency.

Currently, there are a number of industry- and community-based initiatives, at national and international levels, that have been established by various stakeholder groups to push for more ethical business conduct and to define greater organizational responsibility. Among the most important would be:

  1.  GRI– GRI is an international, independent organization that helps businesses, governments and other organizations understand the impact of operations on key sustainability issues such as climate change, human rights, corruption and more. GRI is used in more than 90 countries and about 92% of the world’s top 250 corporations use these indicators. [1]
  2. Global Compact- The United Nations Global Compact was first introduced by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 31, 1999. He called for the application of nine fundamental principles in the areas of human rights, labor standards and the environment. Today, more than 9,000 major companies and 5,000 institutions from around the world, jointly cooperate with governments and scientific institutions at the local and supranational levels on sustainable business development.[2]
  3. OECD Guidlines for mulitinational Comapnies– The OECD is a forum in which the governments of 30 countries work together to address the economic, social and environmental problems associated with globalization. The OECD supports efforts to help governments respond to new challenges, such as corporate governance and the information-based economy.[3]

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Types and stakeholder mapping

One can find various approaches to defining stakeholders. A stakeholder is any person or group that affects or is influenced by the goals and plans of an organization[1]. How different approaches to the concept of stakeholders can be is shown by the fact that no single universal definition has been developed so far. Stakeholders can be divided and classified in at least several respects: influence, legitimacy, expectations, modes of action, territory.

It is important to remember that there is no single recipe or model for stakeholder mapping, just as there is no universal stakeholder list that fits every company. A company’s stakeholder list depends on many variables: the industry in which it operates, the specifics of the company itself, the city in which it operates, or the country. Only after reflecting on this do we superimpose another variable, which is the particular problem or challenge facing the organization. When changing the company’s strategy, it may also happen that the “actors” to whom we direct messages will change. The same if the conditions in which the entire sector operates change: new regulations, entry of a large company into the market, market takeovers, bankruptcies of competitors, etc.

Dialogue with stakeholders (engagement and collaboration)

Stakeholder engagement can have many sources and reasons. Any organization that wants to operate in a transparent, sustainable manner, respecting the interests of the various groups with which it interacts can benefit from a whole range of codes and norms that have been developed. Analyzing stakeholders and then putting in place strategies for involving them in the development of the company are well described both in the literature and by external entities. In 2015, the ISO international standard was supplemented with issues related to stakeholders (engaging them) and corporate social responsibility. For brands that want to strengthen their reputation in the area of social and environmental responsibility, a number of documents have been created by internationally recognized entities: Business for Social Responsibility, CSR Europe, The Future 500 initiative, or the International Association for Public Participation. Focusing on one of the internationally relevant standards of the AA 1000 series:

  • AA 1000 – Principles Standard (APS)
  • AA 1000 – Assurance Standard (AAS)
  • AA 1000 – Stakeholder Engagement Standard (SES)

Methods of involving stakeholders in the company’s development process are numerous and are not the subject of this publication. Among the main techniques and methods of activating stakeholders by the organization we can include:

  1.  Invite stakeholders to provide comments and their initiatives in writing, e.g., using response forms in csr reports;
  2. Round tables and various types of multi-stakeholder forums;
  3. One-on-one meetings;
  4. Dedicated phone lines for given stakeholders;
  5. Online engagement (forms);
  6. Surveys, focus groups, conducting joint studies;
  7. Public meetings, congresses, conferences, panel discussions;
  8. Stakeholder engagement in csr policy analysis, reporting methods and future policy development;
  9. Advisory panels;
  10. Formation of coalitions, alliances, joint projects and initiatives.

[1] Freeman R.E., Strategic Management: A stakeholder approach, Pitman, Boston 1984, str. 6
[1], stan na: 07/05/2017
[2], stan na: 07/05/2017
[3], stan na: 07/05/2017

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