How DuPont used insights from needs‐based research to redefine brand, business

Keith Sena (Marketing Services Manager of DuPont Performance Coatings. He can be reached at
Michael Petromilli (Associate Partner with Prophet (, a Management Consulting firm specializing in the Integration of Business, Brand and Marketing Strategies. He can be reached at

Handbook of Business Strategy

ISSN: 1077-5730

Publication date: 1 December 2005


Businesses risk losing customers when traditional product‐based features, attributes, and benefits are no longer differentiated. Offsetting that risk requires taking a more customer‐centric approach to the brand and business. This entails developing a far deeper understanding of the customer than can be gained through traditional demographic‐based research. At issue is what motivates the purchase decision, and how well the motivating factors are being addressed or could be better addressed at each customer touch point. Organizations seeking to adopt a more customer‐focused strategy will learn from the approach DuPont Performance Coatings took in grappling with this challenge, based on an extensive program of qualitative and quantitative research with customers around the globe. This article focuses on two particular areas of interest. First is the model and far‐reaching research conducted, which revealed comprehensive details on customer priorities and product usage behaviors. The characteristics uncovered became the basis for segmenting customers into groups that could be better targeted to re‐establish relevance and solidify their relationship with the brand. Second is the customer touch‐point analysis, which facilitated alignment of functional groups within the organization (product, sales, customer service, etc.) and equipped them to deliver on newly developed, segment‐specific value propositions. This major initiative has enabled DuPont to reprioritize internal efforts and business practices and been a catalyst for broader organizational changes notably the dissolution of many functional silos that previously had hindered its ability to deliver against its brand promise.



Sena, K. and Petromilli, M. (2005), "How DuPont used insights from needs‐based research to redefine brand, business", Handbook of Business Strategy, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 73-79.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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