In the chemical industry, product and service portfolios have been expanding to support companies’ moves into new markets; to serve changing customer requirements; and to meet the increasing demand for innovative products and services that allow customers to differentiate their own offerings. As companies work to manage these larger, increasingly complex portfolios more effectively, they need to ask two key questions: Are all these efforts worthwhile? And which offerings are really adding value for customers—and which aren’t?
Chemical companies have invested a great deal of money and effort over decades to understand how customers view their offerings, and what they really value. However, Accenture’s Global Buyer Values Study for Chemicals has found that there are still significant gaps in that understanding—with often sizable differences between what customers believe is important and what chemical sellers think that they find important. And dissecting buyers into two groups—converters, who transform chemical products for manufacturing segments and end-use markets, and manufacturers, who produce finished products for industrial sectors and consumers—reveals further disparities. (Figure 1)
Looking at converters, the study found that they value a short time-to-market and leadership in innovation more than sellers think—but beyond that, they are essentially looking for what might be called a “no frills” approach from sellers. For example, sellers overestimate how much importance converters place on value-added services, customer application development and portfolio breadth and depth. Overall, these findings reflect the fact that converters often have significant expertise in modifying materials and don’t look to sellers for help on that front. But they are interested in accessing innovation leadership that can help make their products more competitive.
Figure 1: Perception gaps between sellers and buyers for product offering attributes