The case study is about a successful strategy formulated at Dow Corning for marketing commodity silicones, a chemical used in diverse applications. It deals with important issues in B2B marketing: refocusing on user needs and developing a “needs-based” segmentation of industrial customers; bundling and de-bundling of technical services; branding of commodity chemicals; web-based low price/no-frills value proposition; making money with commodities. The case also describes a “tipping point” in Dow Corning’s history and strategy where their leadership in the silicone business was at stake; management had to chart radically new ways to compete in commoditized markets–what they call their “disruptive innovation”. At the end the students are asked to look at the success of Xiameter (the company’s web-based brand) and decide its future. The choices are: maintain status quo; incrementally fine tune the strategy; go for a major overhaul.
The Xiameter case can be used to: 1) show an example of using customer insights in successfully re-defining business and marketing strategies; 2) address issues of segmentation, value proposition and branding in industrial marketing; 3) demonstrate how two contrasting value propositions could be offered to industrial customers under different brands; 4) discuss value innovation in B2B markets ; 5) examine and analyze elements of a successful web-based business model; 6) learn how adversity can challenge an organization to re-define its business and marketing strategies for future success.
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