Market to Customer
Clariant’s success relies on its ability to understand customer needs and market trends along the entire value chain, develop solutions to address those needs, and capture the value created. To support this, the company invests in building strong customer relationships and constantly building and adapting its marketing and sales capabilities.
2.1. Demand for sustainable solutions on the rise
Customer demand for sustainable products further accelerated in 2020, driven not only by ever-rising end consumer interest but also by anticipated policy and regulatory changes, such as the European Green Deal. Clariant supports such regulation, as it has the potential to further fuel innovation of sustainable products – a core aspect of Clariant’s corporate strategy – while preserving the competitivenes of Europe’s industry. Clariant is continuously bringing forward new solutions that are more sustainable without compromising on performance or the company’s commitment to fulfilling customer needs. Using 36 sustainability criteria to screen products across their entire life cycle as part of its Portfolio Value Program (PVP), Clariant awarded 24 new products the EcoTain® label in 2020 to recognize their outstanding sustainability profile.
Additionally, as more and more customers are setting sustainability targets relevant to their supply chains, Clariant is ramping up efforts to demonstrate how its sustainable products can support customers in achieving their targets.
2.2. Differentiation through innovation, service, and convenience
Amid ongoing commoditization, consolidation, and integration in the chemicals market, Clariant, as a specialty chemicals company, is striving for even more innovation and specialization to respond to its customers’ quality expectations and evolving ecological standards.
As competition increases the price pressure, the company is working to maintain and strengthen its position in the market through the service it delivers, both remotely and in person. For example, Clariant conducted several projects to develop its service catalog – a series of offerings that can be adjusted to customers’ demands. This helped to conceptualize and deliver the new »Ease of Doing Business« program, which is designed to strengthen customer relationships by making it easier and more convenient for them to work with Clariant.
2.3. Understanding market trends through Commercial Excellence
To stay ahead of the curve, Clariant focuses on true customer centricity. This commitment is manifested through its Commercial Excellence initiative, which facilitates dialog with current and prospective customers to improve commercial strategies, customer engagement, and sales and marketing operations. In 2020, the initiative delivered 20 Commercial Excellence programs to the Business Units and continued to train and educate employees. A major achievement in the reporting year was the company-wide implementation of a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, which will be the backbone and front line of all commercial activities with customers and other stakeholders.
Despite constantly evolving markets, Clariant maintains its strong position by understanding and anticipating customer requirements and needs in order to continuously reinvent its portfolios, and by maintaining an innovative pipeline of products and services. To differentiate between short- and long-term trends, Clariant always consults different sources and looks at the same situation from different perspectives to avoid any bias. This triangulation enables the company to weigh data from at least three different sources before drawing conclusions in the project team.
»Listen to what customers say, understand what they aspire to, and act on what they do.«Jan Romijn Initiative Leader Marketing Excellence
2.4. Biennial customer satisfaction survey
To leverage customer feedback, Clariant conducts biennial customer satisfaction surveys, which provide insights into how Clariant’s operational, commercial, and innovation performance is perceived. After several improvement initiatives were implemented as a result of the 2018 survey, customers of all Business Units in all regions were again surveyed in 2020.
Both Clariant’s Customer Satisfaction Index and Customer Loyalty Index were slightly improved compared to 2018. The company’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) increased to 42% (2018: 29%), reaching its highest value compared to previous years. The NPS gauges the loyalty of a company’s customers on a scale from –100 (no loyalty) to +100 (high loyalty). An NPS of > 50% is felt to be excellent.
2.5. Digitalization to optimize the customer experience
Clariant is increasingly using digitalization to intensify customer interactions. In 2020, the company made considerable progress on its digital commercial roadmap. In exchange with Business Units, IT teams, and the Digital4Clariant teams, several priority projects were identified for implementation. One key example is the Lead Generation project, which facilitates the connection of new leads to the CRM system. This creates a better understanding of customer preferences and attention areas, while also reducing the amount of manual work.
On Clariant’s quest to become a data-driven company, integrating commercial analytics and smart digital tools will be on the forefront of Commercial Excellence’s agenda. The goal is to develop data-based key performance indicators that equip sales and marketing personnel with the right information and act as decision support systems. Clariant will also further invest in virtual selling.
2.6. Sharpening the customer focus and tailoring the value proposition
Clariant’s goal is to truly understand the customer journey. In 2020, the company further incorporated customer needs into the definition of customer segments to refine value propositions and further focus marketing and sales activities. By looking at the customer experience from different dimensions, the company recognizes the obvious and hidden needs of different roles at different points in time within the decision cycle. Clariant also made progress segmenting the company’s broad market and product portfolio into logical blocks and profiles, taking into consideration differences across Business Lines and Units, and proximity to the end consumer. With the support of digital tools, the company will be able to follow the customer journey more closely and tailor the value proposition along these different dimensions. Clariant will continue to adjust customer profile development to ensure profiles stay relevant and are further differentiated.
2.7. Strong customer relationships through tailored solutions
To support its Business Units in offering the right solutions, Clariant takes several approaches. The Marketing Excellence program Find & Win allows Clariant’s Business Units to systematically understand each touchpoint along the customer journey, develop tailored products and solutions, and maintain long-term relationships. In 2020, 111 structured interviews with customers and 75 with industry experts were conducted to gain insights as part of the program. Find & Win and Continuous Improvement continued to deliver projects that contributed to customer satisfaction and the bottom and top line for the company. Through these programs, Business Unit Functional Minerals, for instance, successfully increased coverage in the civil engineering market in China, and Business Unit Oil and Mining Services reassessed the refinery market business potential in the EMEA region. Increasingly, Clariant also focuses on more specialized programs that address specific commercial challenges with tailored solutions. Additional initiatives assess the total value delivery potential of a Busines Unit and compare it with current ambitions and market developments.
Marketing Excellence Find & Win
Find & Win maps a market’s value chain and customer needs by interviewing customers and industry experts, assessing market reports, and benchmarking competitor moves.
2.8. Extending value-based pricing
Clariant uses cross-functional teams and combined expertise to develop solutions that maximize value for its customers and the company. Clariant’s commercial organization transforms value created for customers into profitable growth by determining mutually beneficial price points. A helpful tool to demonstrate a product’s value to customers is value calculators that can quantify and visualize the financial benefits of using Clariant’s products as compared to the next best competing alternative. In 2020, Clariant worked to reinnovate its value-based pricing (VBP) strategy to extend it to a larger part of its portfolio and focus on customer-relevant differentiators. A new digital pricing tool that integrates both internal and external sources, such as weather influences and commodity stock prices, and accurately executes the value calculations for Clariant and its customers is anticipated to be finalized in 2021, with trainings and coordination to follow.
2.9. Structural changes for more efficiency
Clariant will discontinue its Excellence Service Units in their current composition in the context of Clariant’s rightsizing program. Significant parts of these organizations will be transferred to the newly created Service Units. Commercial Excellence will move to Corporate Planning & Strategy.
The value chain describes the series of steps in the production process, from raw materials through the various intermediate stages to the ﬁnished end product. View entire glossary
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