Porter’s Five Forces

Bargaining Power of Suppliers

According to Wikipedia:

The bargaining power of suppliers is also described as the market of inputs. Suppliers of raw materials, components, labor, and services (such as expertise) to the firm can be a source of power over the firm when there are few substitutes. If you are making biscuits and there is only one person who sells flour, you have no alternative but to buy it from them. Suppliers may refuse to work with the firm or charge excessively high prices for unique resources.

Potential factors include:

  • Impact of Supplier’s inputs on Buyer’s Cost and Differentiation
  • Concentration of Suppliers relative to the Buyers
  • Supplier Competition – the ability of Suppliers to vertically integrate and cut out the buyer

This Case Study provides a high-level overview of the workflow without detailed explanation. It assumes you are already somewhat familiar with KNIME and Market Simulation. If not, start by reviewing the Building Blocks and Community Nodes.

Case Study

Suppliers have bargaining power when there are few substitutes or when a supplier offers features and benefits that differentiated it from other competitors. A supplier may also have bargaining power when it can uniquely help the buyer lower costs or increase product differentiation to the end consumer.

DuPont is one of the world’s largest chemical companies. The nylon fiber it developed for carpet manufacturers would have been considered a commodity product. However, DuPont created enormous Supplier Bargaining Power by developing the brand ‘Stainmaster’ and promoting the brand to downstream consumers. Many consumers demand Stainmaster carpet even though DuPont is not a carpet manufacturer.

Before Branding

DuPont’s unbranded Carpet Fiber is a Commodity Product that must compete on Price.


Before DuPont introduced the ‘Stainmaster’ brand, consumers couldn’t distinguish the carpet fibers offered by any supplier. And, as consumers didn’t care, the Buyer-manufacturers considered the upstream Suppliers as undifferentiated commodities.

Here DuPont’s cost was the same as their competitors and, having no other source of differentiation, they needed to compete on price. Note here that ‘Price’ is really the ‘Starting Price’ for the downstream competitive ‘Price War’ node.


In fact, some carpet fiber differentiation is added as Buyer-manufacturers will also take into account other factors (such as closeness of the Supplier and speed of delivery). Here, manufacturers consider the vendors to be only 80% similar.

Sales Results

After both competitor Suppliers attempt to set Profit Maximizing Prices, DuPont finds that it must match the Market Price when offering an undifferentiated Commodity Product.

After Branding

When DuPont started promoting the ‘Stainmaster’ brand to end consumers it raised its Supplier Power with respect to the Buyer manufacturers of carpet.

Branded Product

After promoting their new brand, DuPont’s value to the Buyer carpet manufactures increases from the undifferentiated value of nylon fiber to include the consumer demand for the Stainmaster brand. But this also raises DuPont’s cost to supply the nylon fiber.

Price War

Each Supplier-competitor in this Market Simulation enters a Price War in an attempt to find their Profit Maximizing Price.

New Results

Despite the ongoing Price War, the Stainmaster brand lifts DuPont’s prices and profitability despite also increasing their costs.


DuPont took advantage of the fact that they could impact the carpet manufacturers’ ability to differentiate their products. They created enormous Supplier Bargaining Power by developing the ‘Stainmaster’ brand and promoting it directly to end consumers.

After Branding

The Stainmaster brand lifts DuPont’s profitability despite also increasing their costs.