What Is A DESTEP Analysis? DESTEP Analysis In A Nutshell

A DESTEP analysis is a framework used by businesses to understand their external environment and the issues which may impact them. The DESTEP analysis is an extension of the popular PEST analysis created by Harvard Business School professor Francis J. Aguilar. The DESTEP analysis groups external factors into six categories: demographic, economic, socio-cultural, technological, ecological, and political.

Understanding a DESTEP analysis

The DESTEP analysis is an extension of the popular PEST analysis created by Harvard Business School professor Francis J. Aguilar. 

The analysis provides an overview of the macroeconomic factors that influence organizations. While these factors cannot be controlled, they nevertheless affect how business is conducted. 

Essentially, the DESTEP analysis is a simple framework for breaking down the complexities of strategic planning. Identifying key market factors promote constructive internal discussion and broadly speaking, serves as a decision-making tool.

The six categories of the DESTEP analysis

Like the PEST analysis and its many variants, the DESTEP analysis is based on an acronym describing key external factors.

Here, there are six categories:

  1. Demographic – comprising statistical information about people such as population size, density, age, gender, or occupation. Demographic information is important because people provide the impetus for a business existing and are a driving force in market development. Changing demographics means changing markets, which in turn influences marketing strategy. Typically, change is driven by population growth, age structure, family structure, and geographic population shifts.
  2. Economic – or factors affecting consumer purchasing power or behavior. These include gross domestic product (GDP), import duty rate, sales tax, inflation, unemployment, and disposable personal income.
  3. Socio-cultural – these factors describe the behaviors, values, or preferences of different societies and cultures. One example of business failing to understand this factor was Pringles, who released a new flavour of smoky bacon potato chips in a campaign wishing Muslims a blessed Ramadan.
  4. Technological – a significant influence on business operations because new technologies constantly replaced outdated technologies. While many businesses benefitted from the wireless communication revolution, many others were left behind.
  5. Ecological – concerns around the exploitation of the environment and natural resources are also a crucial factor. Sustainability and pollution reduction are two such factors every business needs to consider. 
  6. Political – these are external political factors related to laws, governmental agencies, minority groups, or movements. Understanding these factors is seen as particularly important for a business entering a foreign country.

Advantages and disadvantages of the DESTEP analysis

The DESTEP analysis is a simple and holistic account of macroeconomic factors and can be completed by an individual or a group. 

It also stimulates discussion about sometimes overlooked external factors and maintains focus on adapting strategy to the target demographic.

However, it does have some disadvantages:

  • It does not provide a way to weigh the importance of the various categories.
  • It combines the political and legal aspects into one category, which some businesses may find restrictive.
  • As extensive as the analysis is, it does need to be complemented by an analysis of internal and competitive factors.
  • Lastly, the DESTEP analysis requires a significant investment of time and resources to collate the necessary information. By the time the analysis is complete, the prevailing market conditions may have shifted. 

Key takeaways:

  • The DESTEP analysis is a variation of the PEST analysis. It helps businesses understand their external environment and the issues which may impact them.
  • The DESTEP analysis groups external factors into six categories: demographic, economic, socio-cultural, technological, ecological, and political.
  • The DESTEP analysis is a simple and detailed means of stimulating discussion around external threats. However, some businesses may find the lack of a scoring system and significant upfront investment restrictive. 

Other connected business strategy frameworks

PESTEL Analysis

The PESTEL analysis is a framework that can help marketers assess whether macro-economic factors are affecting an organization. This is a critical step that helps organizations identify potential threats and weaknesses that can be used in other frameworks such as SWOT or to gain a broader and better understanding of the overall marketing environment.

STEEP Analysis

The STEEP analysis is a tool used to map the external factors that impact an organization. STEEP stands for the five key areas on which the analysis focuses: socio-cultural, technological, economic, environmental/ecological, and political. Usually, the STEEP analysis is complementary or alternative to other methods such as SWOT or PESTEL analyses.

STEEPLE Analysis

The STEEPLE analysis is a variation of the STEEP analysis. Where the step analysis comprises socio-cultural, technological, economic, environmental/ecological, and political factors as the base of the analysis. The STEEPLE analysis adds other two factors such as Legal and Ethical.

Porter’s Five Forces

Porter’s Five Forces is a model that helps organizations to gain a better understanding of their industries and competition. Published for the first time by Professor Michael Porter in his book “Competitive Strategy” in the 1980s. The model breaks down industries and markets by analyzing them through five forces.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis is a framework used for evaluating the business’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It can aid in identifying the problematic areas of your business so that you can maximize your opportunities. It will also alert you to the challenges your organization might face in the future.

BCG Matrix

In the 1970s, Bruce D. Henderson, founder of the Boston Consulting Group, came up with The Product Portfolio (aka BCG Matrix, or Growth-share Matrix), which would look at a successful business product portfolio based on potential growth and market shares. It divided products into four main categories: cash cows, pets (dogs), question marks, and stars.

Balanced Scorecard

First proposed by accounting academic Robert Kaplan, the balanced scorecard is a management system that allows an organization to focus on big-picture strategic goals. The four perspectives of the balanced scorecard include financial, customer, business process, and organizational capacity. From there, according to the balanced scorecard, it’s possible to have a holistic view of the business.

Blue Ocean Strategy 

A blue ocean is a strategy where the boundaries of existing markets are redefined, and new uncontested markets are created. At its core, there is value innovation, for which uncontested markets are created, where competition is made irrelevant. And the cost-value trade-off is broken. Thus, companies following a blue ocean strategy offer much more value at a lower cost for the end customers.

Scenario Planning

Businesses use scenario planning to make assumptions on future events and how their respective business environments may change in response to those future events. Therefore, scenario planning identifies specific uncertainties – or different realities and how they might affect future business operations. Scenario planning attempts at better strategic decision making by avoiding two pitfalls: underprediction, and overprediction.

Main Free Guides:

Published by

Gennaro Cuofano

Gennaro is the creator of FourWeekMBA which reached over a million business students, executives, and aspiring entrepreneurs in 2020 alone | He is also Head of Business Development for a high-tech startup, which he helped grow at double-digit rate | Gennaro earned an International MBA with emphasis on Corporate Finance and Business Strategy | Visit The FourWeekMBA BizSchool | Or Get The FourWeekMBA Flagship Book "100+ Business Models"