10th December, 2017
At our Fit for the Future Now forum in New York, we heard from Sven Stocker about how Design Thinking transformed Covestro’s presence at their most important trade show. Covestro is a global leader in high-tech polymers, employing over 15,000 people. As Global Head of Polycarbonate Marketing Communications, Sven shares Covestro’s story of crafting a simple but powerful experience for customers at the ChinaPlas trade event
What was the challenge you tackled with Design thinking?
"We’re growing fast at the moment, and ChinaPlas is an important communication tool for us. Competing with 4000 other exhibitors you need to stand out, and simply going for a bigger booth won’t necessarily do that. That’s why we invited OxfordSM to help us to set up a design thinking workshop to help us frame the journey we wanted to take customers on. It’s important for us to be seen as a leading innovator in this industry, and ChinaPlas is a big opportunity for us to showcase that innovation."
How have you approached this trade show before?
"We always thought of ChinaPlas as an event, rather than as part of a journey. We expected customers to come and be wowed by our stand, and have a good experience listening and talking to us. Then we hoped that would lead to more conversations after the event. It was all about one key touchpoint at the stand."
What did you change for this show?
"We wanted the show to be one step on a journey. A lot of our people want to speak to our customers, and we realised that a simple, engaging journey around the event would help us to stand out. For me it’s about developing greater empathy for our customers and understanding what they need at each stage, rather than just broadcasting our corporate message!"
Why did you use Design Thinking?
"We’ve found that it engages the whole organisation, and gives solutions fast. We invited Oxford SM to help us to set up a design thinking workshop to get the essence: Who are we talking to? Why? And what’s the journey we want to take them on?
‘We brought the right people together for a couple of days, and really worked to understand the stakeholder network - and how important ChinaPlas is to them and us. Our first session was a really high-energy workshop with great outputs."
How did you do it?
‘We used OxfordSM’s four-stage approach to Design Thinking. First, we immersed ourselves in everything we know about our customers, our ChinaPlas experience, trends and anything else that would be helpful. Then we mapped out our stakeholder network, and clustered them into three distinct customer types. For each of these customer types we thought about exactly what they hoped to get from the event, and developed specific value propositions.
‘Secondly, we framed how each customer type’s behaviour would change in terms of working with us, and ChinaPlas’ role in that change. It was hugely: we’ve never had that clarity before, and it felt like a very brave change.
‘Thirdly we imagined the perfect journey, before going into the fourth stage of building out each step of that journey in detail.
‘Finally, we iterated to make sure the journey was simple, based on customer insight, and really brought the Covestro brand to life by co-creating with real customers. Now we’ve done the design thinking, we’re looking forward to our customers’ response next year.’
Achieving commercial excellence in the new normal
It’s clear that ways of working and travel aren’t going to go back to where they were anytime soon, and more likely never. So there’s a growing realisation that the ‘plasters’ we all put in place to make things work since March need to become more permanent solutions if we’re going to have the impact and results we need.
Where will consumers buy their (over-the-counter) drugs in future?
An unprecedented change is currently taking place in the sale of pharmaceutical products, pointing to the influence of new competition with the existing pharmacy structure.