Data on Data on Data

At ChemicalInfo we know data. In fact our Data & Research team has made more than 40,000 updates this year alone to the DWCP! Check out the other updates and additions we have made to each of our products in the first half of the year.

All Product Updates - July 2017

Remember, if you have a question concerning the data that ChemicalInfo can offer, please fill out a Pre-Sale Research Request form so that our in-house Research team can ensure we have the chemicals and company information you need to improve sourcing, sales and marketing efforts.

 

Breaking Down the Anatomy of a Company Profile

The question our team receives the most often is, “How does your company ensure that your data is always accurate?”. The simple answer is that we have an incredible in-house research department that checks for data accuracy within listed company profiles and products every day. But what about the specifics? Let’s breakdown the Anatomy of a Company Profile.

Anatomy of a Company Profile

Company profiles include information like company name, phone, fax, email, company type (manufacturer, distributor, etc.) and the company description. This information is the first step in verifying listing accuracy and the ChemicalInfo Research Department uses the information to properly identify companies that can be listed in the Directory of World Chemical Producers (DWCP).

As a company that has been around for 45 years we also have a vast network of global sales agents that are experts in their own countries that provide additional details and help bridge the gap when communicating to listed companies and contacts. We also use partnerships with trade shows as a source for meeting new companies and contacts as well as taking the time to meet existing contacts listed in the DWCP and receive feedback directly from those sources to make updates.  Using a variety tools such as proprietary web crawlers, email testing with 3rd party tools and online sources the Research Department is able to continually monitor listed contact information.

Company Locations are carefully vetted in order to ensure that company locations that are truly manufacturing products are listed and differentiated between other locations that may only be used for R&D, Sales and main headquarters.

Profile certifications are an integral source of maintaining listing accuracy especially for manufacturers that hold government and regulatory approval certifications from entities such as the US FDA or EDQM. Third-party audit information provided by our partnership with Rx360 is also used as a determining factor to identify legitimate producers.

Finally, ChemicalInfo’s partnership with Datamyne, a Descartes company provides subscribers with thousands of import/export records that help provide a complete picture of what commodities are produced, used and sold across the globe. Trade Data also provides key information that the Research Department uses to determine producer status by looking at export information.

As a data company we take every possible measure to ensure all information offered in each of our products is accurate but the truth is no company can put a 100% accuracy guarantee on data. Every day mergers and acquisitions take place, new product lines are introduced, old products are discontinued, new finish form products receive government approvals, chemical professionals leave their company and begin new careers but at ChemicalInfo we have a fine-tuned process that provides subscribers data that can be relied on year after year.

 

A lesson from the Ebola outbreak: “You can’t just order a box of goodwill on demand…”

Ebola treatment centers in Liberia were forced closed after 508 medical professionals died treating patients in 2015. Of the approximately 1,000 patients treated in those centers, fewer than 300 lived.

This I learned during the Keynote Speech at the Rx360 Annual Conference a few weeks ago. Rx360 is a consortium of pharmaceutical companies formed after the 2008 heparin recall. ChemicalInfo is honored to be a member of Rx360, whose mission is to protect patient safety and foster quality care. Former Acting US Surgeon General, who commanded the USPHS Monrovia Medical Unit during the Ebola virus outbreak, delivered the Keynote Speech and told the story of how the US government, with critical support from pharma companies and NGOS, squelched the Ebola outbreak.

Amid the recent major divisiveness in the US, I was inspired by his story. It was nice to be reminded that in a time of global crisis, the US government is often in the lead. I bring this up because of a quote included in the Ebola outbreak presentation:

“You can’t just order a box of goodwill on demand and trust it will be delivered. When a crisis happens, it is not the time to be looking for partners.”

– Gregg Starr, Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security

American diplomat, Gregg Starr, was speaking about the network of government agencies, private companies and NGOs that supported those traveling to Liberia after treatment centers were forced closed. The partnerships were already in place. In a time of crisis, they did order a box of goodwill on demand and trust it was delivered—that the deathly virus had been stopped.

I do not for one second compare what we do at ChemicalInfo to the heroic work of these medical professionals. They exemplify the very best of humanity—traveling into a highly contagious and lethal environment to save strangers.

Still I think all business leaders can relate to Mr. Starr’s comment. When a crisis emerges and communities desperately need a box of goodwill, it is not the time to be looking for partners. I am so honored that ChemicalInfo has goodwill with great partners like Sendero, VAZATA, Datamyne, SOCMA, ChemSpec, Rx360, our global agents and others. They allow us to serve up goodwill to our customers at a moment’s notice.

Announcement of 2014 Q4 PIERS Data in NextGen

It’s that time again! Another round of PIERS trade data is available on even more company and product profiles in NextGen. As of today, hundreds of thousands more trade records are available to view (and download!) that include company and product specific details on import and export shipments, including weight and estimated value, equipping you with the information needed to make informed sourcing decisions. The history of import/export records in NextGen now expands the entire year of 2014, and we aren’t stopping any time soon.   About PIERS PIERS is the most comprehensive database of U.S. waterborne trade activity in the world providing information services to thousands of subscribers globally. Launched more than 35 years ago, PIERS was the first venture in digital global trade intelligence and quickly became the industry standard for accuracy, reliability and insight. Our unique infrastructure and proprietary technology allow us to not only publish import data, but also complete coverage of U.S. export transactional data. PIERS is a division of JOC Group Inc., and a sister company of The Journal of Commerce.  For more information about customized solutions from PIERS, visit www.piers.com.   About JOC Group Inc. The JOC Group Inc. is the authoritative provider of business intelligence, data and events for trade, transportation and logistics professionals worldwide. Through its PIERS database and leading JOC coverage of transportation online, print and events, the JOC Group Inc. provides customers with critical insights, data-rich intelligence and tools to compete effectively in the global marketplace. For further information, please visit www.joc.com/group.   About ChemicalInfo Chemical Information Services was established in 1972 and began as a publisher of chemical supplier data that was sold on an as-needed basis. This quickly morphed into a high demand for something formal to be compiled and distributed to chemical and pharmaceutical companies across the globe, making ChemicalInfo a one-stop shop for chemical sourcing needs.   ChemicalInfo has partnered with an outstanding systems integration and UI firm to work on the redesign and consolidation of its databases. This seven month project kicked off on January 15th, 2014, and enhancement expectations include an entirely new user interface, more robust chemical and producer information, and a more efficient internal system for making updates to the database so that the ChemicalInfo team can properly utilize its resources. For more information, visit www.ChemicalInfo.com.

Unusual New Mexico Dulce Underground Bottom

Androgel is just a hydroalcoholic solution which contains testosterone. It’s generally prescribed to adult men who do not create enough testosterone naturally. Androgel is applied topically towards the upper shoulders and consumed in to the skin over a 24hour period. Unwanted effects include skin, anxiety, vertigo, hostility, problem urinating, pain within sweating the genitals and sickness. It is possible to transport Androgel to others through contact, so usually wear a shirt while you are using it. Continue reading “Unusual New Mexico Dulce Underground Bottom”

CROs and CMOs Continuing Drug Delivery Innovation

Drug delivery has been an avenue for innovation in the drug development industry for decades.  Initial improvements focused around delivering medicine with the maximum efficacy and safety in a form accepted by patients, leading to greater patient compliance. At the time, the potential financial impact of drug delivery technology wasn’t appreciated and therefore couldn’t sway Big Pharma’s focus from finding the next blockbuster. As a result, specialty pharmaceutical companies took up the mantle and began to offer the service while Big Pharma retained its focus. This resulted in partnerships with benefits for both parties when it became clear that improved drug delivery boosted therapeutic potential and that experimentation with delivery forms could lead to additional therapeutic indications, providing a different facet of innovation. As the need for drug delivery innovations specific to biologics unfolds, we can anticipate a new type of relationship emerging. Over the past ten years, a number of contract research and contract manufacturing organizations have added drug delivery technologies to their service offering.  It makes sense for manufacturers to be concerned with improved delivery as it helps to reduce wastage of valuable therapeutics.  Whether in the form of overfill, disintegration or lack of absorption, a reduction in the required dosage increases profit margins for manufacturers. In addition to the benefits inherent to manufacturing, proprietary delivery technology can cement customers into long-term relationships. Looking to 2013, there is a steady demand among buyers of outsourced services for drug delivery support. Results from the Nice Insight Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Outsourcing survey show that one in five plan to outsource a drug delivery project in the coming year. Big Pharma comprises the largest segment of drug delivery outsourcers at 42%, followed by Biotech (23%), Specialty Pharma (16%), Emerging Pharma (12%) and Emerging Biotech (7%). Considering the challenges inherent to delivering biologics-based therapeutics, it isn’t surprising that four out of five who outsource drug delivery are engaged in the development of biologic-based therapeutics. The development of biologics-based therapeutics drives the need to consider drug delivery technology earlier in the development cycle, which was reflected in research results in several ways. These outsourcers supported a growing trend among biopharma companies, which is to engage outsourcing partners earlier in the development lifecycle.  More than half (55%) of drug delivery outsourcers agree it would be valuable to use the same delivery form from early phases through the development cycle.  Also, when respondents were asked specifically which companies they would consider when outsourcing a project, CROs held two of the top three positions. Respondents selected Boehringer Ingelheim, Covance, ICON and Baxter BioPharma as their top four choices when outsourcing drug delivery.  There was a three-way tie for fifth between AAI Pharma, Alkermes and Catalent.  The top CMOs mentioned by respondents—Boehringer Ingelheim and Baxter BioPharma—received “excellent” scores for quality and reliability, which are the two most important outsourcing drivers according to this group.  However, these two companies were perceived as less affordable compared to CROs, Covance and ICON. Among CROs that offer drug delivery services, Covance and ICON received the highest quality and reliability scores of the group. Yet, interestingly, the CRO companies received their highest scores in productivity and regulatory compliance.  This suggests that different criteria are driving drug delivery business to CMOs (quality and reliability) and CROs (productivity and regulatory history). As the outsourcing model evolves towards more strategic partnerships, where biopharmaceutical companies are looking to CROs and CMOs in order to access specialty skills as well as improving quality, it makes sense for these contract providers to expand their service offering to include drug delivery. The results will likely be mutually beneficial to the drug developer and contract organization, helping each of them to maximize their resources.
Survey Methodology: The Nice Insight Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Survey is deployed to outsourcing-facing pharmaceutical and biotechnology executives. The 2012-2013 report includes responses from 10,036 participants. The survey is comprised of 500+ questions and randomly presents ~30 questions to each respondent in order to collect baseline information with respect to customer awareness and customer perceptions on the top 100+ CMOs and top 50+ CROs servicing the drug development cycle. Over 900 marketing communications, including branding, websites, print advertisements, corporate literature and trade show booths are reviewed by our panel of respondents.  Five levels of awareness from “I’ve never heard of them” to “I’ve worked with them” factor into the overall customer awareness score.  The customer perception score is based on six drivers in outsourcing: Quality, Innovation, Regulatory Track Record, Affordability, Productivity and Reliability.

Branding (II) A Competitive Advantage for SMEs

ABSTRACT In the first part of this article we showed that the total value delivered to the customer is the sum of “what” is being delivered (the product itself) and “how” it’s being delivered (collaboratively,  reliably, on-time, post- purchase service etc.). Branding activities is shorthand for trust. As such, branding is part of “how” the value is delivered to the customer. Branding is a minor cost to the manufacturer but delivers significant value to the buyer. When it comes to branding, Western small and medium size companies (SMEs) should have an inherent competitive advantage over low cost manufacturers.  By increasing the customer delivered value through branding, Western companies can partially compensate for their structural cost disadvantage embedded in the “what” component. The article explained in the first part why branding renders Western manufacturers  more competitive in the global market place. In the second part of we are providing a step by step practical branding process for SMEs. THE BRANDING PROCESS The second part of the article provides a practical guide to steer the chemical SMEs branding process in the context of limited internal resources and/or minimal outsourcing to an agent. Whichever your choice might be, the proposed branding process can accommodate a wide range of budgets by adapting the volume of work to the financial realities of each company. The branding process consists in the following basic stages (Figure 1): •    Establishing the branding goals •    Creating the brand team •    Delivering the brand strategy document •    Developing the branding concept •    Executing the branding program (implementation  and monitoring)   Stage 1: Establishing the branding goals This is a list of deliverables spelling out the desired outcomes of the branding exercise. For example, deciding where to invest within the brand architecture of the SME is mission critical. A clear differentiation should be made from the outset between 1) branding a corporation, 2) a business line, 3) a product line or 4) an individual product. The resources needed and the measured outcomes will be vastly different in each case. Investing in a corporate brand (or an umbrella brand) takes time and considerable financial resources but will have import spill over effects across the whole portfolio of product lines. Corporate branding will also have a positive impact on the motivation of human resources and facilitate leadership towards strategic objectives. By contrast, branding a specific product might not necessarily influence the overall image of the company (a process called brand metonymy1, will take less time and less financial resources. Besides brand architecture decisions, the branding project might have many other objectives such as to increase awareness, acceptance, brand loyalty or brand preference over other brands. These desiderates are related to the natural product life cycle and are integral part of the brand management. Whatever the objectives might be, it is important to have clear processes and performance measurements  to monitor the progress of the branding during the implementation  phase. For example, increase in brand awareness can be gleaned in a pilot test by participating in a small trade show before investing in a fully- fledged branding program at a national or international show. Figure 1. The branding process for SMEs At last but not at least, these outcomes should be quantified in pro-forma financials to establish the return on the branding investment. The ROI needs to meet the corporate hurdle rate and compared with other competing investment opportunities. In this respect, branding is no different than any other investment decision. This step is critically important in the marketing-sceptical, technically driven environment of the chemical SMEs. CEOs, CFOs and even sales VPs are generally not familiar with the branding concept in the SME environment. This is why presenting the value of branding in terms of return on investment is critical to get the management’s  buy-in and support. Stage 2: Creating the brand team The brand needs to communicate on an emotional level. This is possible only if the brand captures live feelings and expresses them in an artistic, powerful manner. The information collected through secondary research (print, digital) is certainly informative but unfortunately not engaging. This is why developing a brand concept needs direct interactions through one-on-one interviews that capture individual real life experiences and spur healthy debates amongst representative stakeholders who form the “brand team”. The brand team could include both permanent members and occasional participants. The permanent members
are generally company founders, present owners, executives and other key employees. Occasional participants are line employees, suppliers and at last but not at least, customers who are willing to share their own experiences with the company or product. This includes successes, challenges or simply thei stakeholders aspirations and suggestions for the future. It is particularly important to include in the process not only long-time customers but also lost customers in order to capture the full emotional picture surrounding the company, address the negatives and build on the positives. Stage 3: Delivering the brand strategy document In the initial stages, the agent’s role is to facilitate these group discussions, lead interviews, gather information and manage the whole project against the budget and timeline. Eventually, the role of the agent evolves into identifying and highlighting similarities while unveiling several potential emotional connections to the intended positioning of the brand. All this work will eventually generate a several page document called “the brand strategy document”. The brand strategy document ultimately provides the strategic groundwork for the brand image and positioning. Once the brand team agrees on the new brand positioning, it needs to have the reality check against market size, key market segments, intensity of competition and customer hierarchy values. The proposed brand positioning must also resonate with the business environment in order to be profitable2. If the market size is large enough, the intensity of the competition reasonable and the new brand positioning relevant to the customer, the branding project can be handed over to the Creative Agent for concept Development. The brand strategy document has several building blocks that will eventually end up being used in various marketing communications  documents. Here are the main building blocks: a.    The organizational history The history of the organization is critical for understanding the trajectory of the business from its inceptions to the present moment. The milestones related to organization past successes and challenging moments would reveal the values and the culture of the business. The history of the company included in the branding exercise will give the brand meaningful continuity, and increased credibility in the market place and with the company employees. b.    Key business messages It is equally important to consider past marketing and PR messages. This effort gives an idea for the content, voice and tone of the existing brand (if any), and also correlates with historic sales outcomes, which is helpful for pro-forma projections. The accent falls on the most recent messages, their alignment or possible connections with the intended branding objectives highlighted above. c.    Perception of past messages If the budget allows, it is informative to see what was the perception of past messages by key stakeholders, their likes and dislikes and to what degree the intended effect has in fact been achieved. A gap between the intended key messages and their perception and retention can provide useful insights in the way the target audience acquires information, thinks and absorbs the brand. d.    Profile of target audience The background of the target audience is important for the branding project. For example certain symbols might have geographically  restricted significance. This is important if the company intends to operate in international markets. The education, age and functional position are also highly relevant. By way of example, in the case of a company that is relying on a new product line the target audience will be R&D types who are generally early adopters in customer organizations. On the contrary, a company that is basing its growth plans on gaining market share for existing products must target their brand mainly to corporate purchasers. And yet again, for a company where the moral of the employees is low, branding must respond to their aspirations and concern. The logo, the tag line and all other elements of the brand might be completely different in these cases. e.    Competitive mapping Brands do not exist in vacuum; they compete with other brands for the attention of the target audience. The brand positioning exercise needs to take into account the existing competitive landscape in order to create a brand identity that is distinctive amongst competitors and simultaneously  relevant to the target market. For example the agent in charge with branding could generate a list of key messages of main competitors by interviewing customers and reviewing their market communications.
Based on the information garnered from stakeholders and secondary sources (print and digital) the brand strategy document must ultimately spell out the following deliverables: •      Brand story: documents in an inspiring way the social benefits provided by the organization along the years •      Brand core values: highlights the spiritual backbone that helped the organization overcome vicissitudes and reach meaningful objectives above and beyond financial ones •      Brand attributes: show what are the most appealing aspects to the main stakeholders, employees, customers and owners •      Brand vision: an inspiring description of how the organization or product will fit in a progressive future •      Brand mission: a short, mobilizing call to action anchoring the focus of the company for the long term •    Brand promise: describes what are the functional and emotional benefits to stakeholders •    Brand tag line: a catchy short statement summing up the vision, the mission and core values •      Brand positioning: shows what distinctive place should occupy in the minds and hearts of the target audiences relative to other competing brands The brand strategy building blocks and deliverables are presented in a schematic form in Figure 2.   Figure 2. The brand strategy document. It is important to note that there must be a logical alignment between the deliverables of the branding project. Although the organization might never fully reach any of these deliverables, the management must work towards creating an organizational culture and structure that supports the corporate brand. Stage 4: Concept development Once the brand team agrees on the brand strategy document and arrives to the list of deliverables, the process moves to the concept development stage. The creative development stage has a single clear purpose: translate the brand strategy content in an emotional experience.
Branding ultimately works because it touches everyone on an emotional level. There is no place to hide from the humanity within; this is why branding done right delivers infallibly. The logo of Christianity, the cross, touches emotionally even the nonbelievers because it embodies the basic values, the vision and the mission of the great Western culture. The logo of Mercedes is the representation  of success. Swastika, the Nazi symbol, remains a constant reminder of the darker side of humanity. In a similar manner, the logo of the company should elicit an irrepressible emotional response in the minds and souls of the customers, employees and other stakeholders in the business landscape. This is why the concept development stage starts by discussing in further detail the information contained in the brand strategy document with the brand team. What are the key messages of the competition, what is their heraldic and what does it convey? What are the colours used, the tone, what is their website experience? The brand team needs to spell out the likes and dislikes in the branding of the competition. Once the competing brands are understood, turning attention to the company’s existing brand the brand team must decide what are the elements that need to be kept, and why? Based on this comparative introspection, what should the new company image look like in order to express the deliverables captured in the brand strategy documents? Bottom line, the creative stage is both subjective and limitless from an artist’s perspective. This is why the brand team must define the creative boundaries and choices. The creative team role is to propose several concepts to the brand team in an iterative process. The creative process is in fact an evolution of symbols, colours, shapes, tone and content providing an increasingly acceptable outcome to all stakeholders on the brand team. Obtaining consensus is critical because the brand will ultimately become alive through the unconditional support of owners, management and employees represented on the brand team. The winning brand concept is ultimately something that the brand team loves and wants to buy. There should be no need for convincing the brand team by the branding agent. While the logo and the tagline are important elements of the branding exercise, it is highly recommended  to develop other key branded print, digital and live deliverables. Corporate brochures, product brochures, advertising campaigns, website, presentations, booth design, table tops etc. work in synergy to create the branded ecosystem in which your sales force is going to interact with the customers and operate successfully. Stage 5: Execution While you might be using a design firm initially to produce the new marketing package, in time, employees will have to create, modify, enrich and adapt materials for their specific needs. It is important therefore that all ulterior communication  materials follow the same branding guidelines in order to ensure the continuity of the look, feel and tone from day to day correspondence,  to the most elaborate customer call presentations. In order to achieve this goal the users must share from the same “brand tool kit”, a repository of images, symbols etc. that are right in tone, manner, voice and colours. Along with the tool kit along comes a “brand manual”, instructing users on how to use the elements in the tool kit in a brand consistent manner. We recommend having the “brand tool kit” and “brand manual” available on the intranet of the company in order to ensure that all communications  are always conveyed in a consistent branded environment. From a market perspective, although the delivered content might be completely different from one occasion to the other, there will always be a sense of familiarity that translates ultimately in trust.  Trust simplifies relationship between buyer and vendor, speeds up the sales cycle, increases conversion rate and makes higher prices acceptable. CONCLUSIONS The value delivered to the customer is the sum of “what” is being delivered (the product itself) and “how” it’s being delivered. Branding is shorthand for trust. As such, branding is part of “how” the value is delivered to the customer and creates customer delivered value. Most of the Western chemical SMEs fail to recognize the inherent competitive advantage they have in branding for the Western markets. This is one of the points where low cost producers will continue to struggle in the near future. Branding represents therefore an important sustainable competitive advantage for Western chemical SME. The second part of this article provides a practical “How to” on the branding process in the context of the chemical SME. It should help SMEs to understand and execute the branding process with limited resources at minimal cost. References 1 Brand metonymy can work very efficiently for SME’s where a successful product can be then leveraged in the creation of a corporate brand. This is a low cost, low risk but slower branding approach particularly adequate for SMEs that are not familiar with the branding process. See D. St.Andrei, Chemistry Today29(2(2011). 2 Some ofthis information, such as market size, market segments, customer value model and customer value hierarchy might be already available if the company has a strategy plan in place MarketChemica offers specialized marketing services to the global fine and specialty chemicals industry. For more information see marketchemica.com

Branding I: A competitive advantage for SMEs

ABSTRACT The total value delivered to the customer is the sum of “what” is being delivered (the product itself) and “how” it’s being delivered (collaboratively, reliably, on-time, post-purchase service etc.). Branding activities is shorthand for trust. As such, branding is part of “how” the value is delivered to the customer. Branding is a minor cost to the manufacturer but delivers significant value to the buyer. When it comes to branding, Western small and medium size companies (SMEs) should have an inherent competitive advantage over low cost manufacturers. By increasing the customer delivered value through branding, Western companies can partially compensate for their structural cost disadvantage embedded in the “what” component. The article explains in the first part why branding renders Western manufacturers more competitive in the global market place. In the second part (published in the next issue) the article will provide a practical branding process for SMEs. INTRODUCTION “To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them?” Shakespeare, Hamlet 3/1 For many owners and executives in the Western fine chemical industry the Shakespearean monologue rings increasingly true in the globalization context. The Western fine chemicals industry is under siege. A combination of adversary drivers such as cost structure, flat demand and enormous price pressure in their home markets are creating the perfect storm conditions. While the problems are obvious, the question remains: what “arms” should they use against this “sea of troubles”? This article shows that the SMEs unique focus on delivering the tangible chemical product fails to acknowledge the sustainable competitive advantage that Western chemical enterprises have over low cost competition at the INTERFACE with the customer. The total customer delivered value does not reside only in the physical product. The delivered value to the customer is the sum of the product (The What) and all the activities at the interface between supplier and buyer (The How) (1) as suggested in equation 1): Equation 1: CUSTOMER DELIVERED VALUE = WHAT YOU MAKE+ HOW YOU DELIVER The “What”, the product itself, is essentially a CAS number. Unless you have a proprietary molecule, what you make is by definition undifferentiated from a supplier to another. Process patents continue to provide weak protection in low cost countries so having good processes can provide only a fleeting cost advantage. Moreover, it is anticipated that low cost producers will continue to keep their structural cost advantage (2) for the foreseeable future. Under these circumstances, activities taking place at the interface between the supplier and the buyer (“The How”) are in fact the only activities that can provide Western companies with a sustainable competitive advantage. This is why Western companies in the fine chemicals industry should invest in interface activities in order to compensate for their lack of competitiveness on the cost side. A small incremental cost in interface activities could increase considerably the value delivered to the customer while providing an attractive return on investment for the SME.   TO BRAND OR NOT TO BRAND: A FALSE DICHOTOMY Branding is one of many activities that belong to the manufacturer interface with the customer. Essentially a brand simplifies the supplier/customer interactions through trust. As such, building the brand can be an important part of creating “The How” component of the customer delivered value. Most of the low cost suppliers do not even have the notion of what a brand is let alone the capability to build a brand. Since branding done right provides considerable customer value at a reasonable cost, this means that there is great scope for branding in terms of gaining market share from other competitors from all over the world. For example, considerable effort is undertaken by purchasing to identify, evaluate, qualify, negotiate, communicate, and collaborate with a supplier. It is undoubtedly much easier for the buyer to skip these tasks by working with a company that has invested in positive brand associations and lived up to its brand promise time and again. In another example, R&D scientists are making critical decisions every day in terms of choice of raw materials and synthetic routes. They are deciding therefore the future consumption of large corporations for many years to come. A SME that makes the information available, increases awareness for its technical solutions and provides support during the development process builds the reputation of a respectable brand and gains the scientists trust. Unfortunately, there is a misperception that a brand is the prerogative of large companies only. Usually SMEs do not have budgets dedicated to this activity. In reality, due to the low level of branding effort in the fine chemical industry, a small investment in branding activities can quickly establish any SME’s market niche leadership. We make the argument that branding is one of the activities that chemical SMEs cannot afford to skip. In fact, a SME that has nothing to say about how it is going to provide customer beyond delivering “the what” is acknowledging indirectly that the company is competing on price. Without a minimal branding effort, these SMEs are simply selling a physical product, an undifferentiated CAS number. It is no surprise that such suppliers will invariably end up being benchmarked against low cost competition. CONCLUSIONS: The value delivered to the customer is the sum of “what” is being delivered (the product itself) and “how” it’s being delivered. Branding is shorthand for trust. As such, branding is part of “how” the value is delivered to the customer and creates customer delivered value. The lack of branding activities is wrongly perceived as a simple cost cutting measure. The first part or this article makes the argument that a buck saved in the short term is a buck not invested in a profitable branding project. In fact, lack of branding from the marketing mix fails to create customer value and capitalize on a small incremental cost for the supplier. Most of the Western chemical SMEs fail to recognize the inherent competitive advantage they have in branding for the Western markets. This is one of the points where Far East producers will continue to struggle in the near future. Making the deliberate choice to forgo branding activities, Western SMEs implicitly focus all business conversations on the product itself thus playing to the advantage of their Far East competitors. The second part of the article provides a practical “How to” on the branding process. It should help SMEs execute the branding process with limited internal resources at minimal cost. MarketChemica offers specialized marketing services to the global fine and specialty chemicals industry. For more information see marketchemica.com. ” REFERENCES AND NOTES 1. N. Dawar, Chemistry Today, 29(1), (2011). 2. P. Pollak, A. Badrot et al., Contract Pharma, Jan/Feb, (2012) this article documents that the inherent difference in the cost structure between Western and Far East countries will continue to be significant within the strategic horizon timeline.

A World Class T&E Program: Key Components, Choices and Potential Savings

By Howard Gutman, Manager, Strategy & Operations Practice, The Hackett Group Many road warriors will only use the brands they prefer (i.e., United, Hertz and Starwood) to maximize their loyalty accounts regardless of the cost to their companies and customers.  However, a CFO who has a world-class T&E program in place would have his or her company’s frequent travelers using preferred vendors versus allowing them to make reservations that maximize their mileage accounts at the expense of the company’s bottom line.  Based on The Hackett Group’s benchmarks and prior client experience, a world-class T&E program consists of three key components:
  1. A simple yet proscriptive T&E policy;
  2. An online booking tool that incorporates the T&E policy and preferred vendor relationships for all travel categories;
  3. Required use of a firm-wide corporate card that is connected to an automated expense reporting system.
These components together can deliver 7 to 15% annual cost savings for a company’s T&E program; choices to not implement a component of this program result in diluted savings and a diluted program. Many companies have travel policies but they are outdated and no longer match the current standard practices of today’s travelers (i.e., references to paper tickets) or provide loose policy or guidance.   A world-class T&E policy has clearly defined terms and responsibilities paired with defined authorization and approval levels for all key areas of travel and entertainment (i.e., air, car/taxi, hotel, meals and entertainment), the appropriate method of expense submission and the potential penalties for non-compliance with the firm policies.  An unclear T&E policy will lead to wildly different interpretations of policies and thereby present the opportunity for abuse and mismanagement of travel and entertainment expenses. Our research and industry findings show that applying a world-class T&E policy can generate savings in the 1% to 4% range. An online booking tool paired with preferred vendor agreements in all major travel categories (air, car and hotel) and policy control is the method chosen by world class companies to generate cost savings.  A traveler’s choices for air, car and hotel should come down to a combination of cost and convenience rather than loyalty, especially when an online booking tool without controls or discounts could result in the purchase of the highest priced flight or hotel in a particular city or route.  When a company negotiates preferred vendor agreements with these major travel vendors, there are two primary benefits that drive cost savings:
  1. Deep discounts off list rates;
  2. Service or benefits such as free breakfast and internet that result in additional cost savings.
The use of an online booking tool that incorporates a firm’s travel policy and preferred vendor relationships can generate annual cost savings in the 5 to 8% range. Required use of a firm-wide corporate card connected to an automated expense reporting system allows for tracking of employees’ expenses at a line item level and limits questionable expenses (i.e., car upgrades).  In our prior client experience, companies conducted infrequent audits of their travelers’ expenses (less than 1 in 1000 reports) due to the sheer volume of reports or an inability to easily see line item level details. However, the recommended program of a corporate card paired with policy-driven automated expense reporting system with increased auditing (1 in every 300 reports) can generate savings of 1-3% savings when properly implemented. All of these elements, when combined together into a well-built travel program, can produce significant cost savings but as we have seen from a recent client, the lack of organizational will to fully implement any of these three components can deteriorate savings.  The client chose to limit the audit and compliance ability of their program, resulting in a 11% reduction from estimated savings. Their decision to let travelers book hotels outside of the online booking tool for cities outside of its top 30 cities by spend further reduced potential savings by another 10%.  What this demonstrates is along with the key components mentioned above, a company needs to fully implement all key components in order to realize the full benefits of cost savings from a world class travel program.

The Role of HR and Communications in BPO

By Mark Woessner, Director, The Hackett Group Your analysis of outsourcing is beginning to move forward, you’re beginning to draft an RFP, you’re assessing the population of providers to begin your focus and you have included your IT team in mapping out your systems and applications landscape. Have you included your HR and Corporate Communications team in this analysis? Are they aware of the scope? Are you fully aware of the role that HR and Communication planning needs to play in this important initiative? If not, please read on. Including HR and Communications early on in the process is imperative. This strategic initiative will touch HR issues as much as any technology or process transformation. The entire project will fail without a strong and well thought out HR and communications strategy. First of all, you will need HR’s input to provide salary and severance data to develop the business case. Furthermore, you will need to include, at minimum, your process leadership team to develop RFP components, answer provider questions and seek their input on provider capabilities. Without a doubt, there will be stress on your organization from an employee standpoint. What is your communications plan? Who will be delivering that message? Which employees will receive specific messaging? As the initiative continues, more of the employee population will be aware of the project, and providers will be on-site for due diligence activities. What will you tell the organization? Your leadership team may need to travel to offshore locations for your due diligence. What and how you communicate to the employees is critical at this point. You cannot lose control of the organization and you must continue operational performance. How will you manage possible flight risk? Will you be offering retention bonuses for key individuals to stay on through transition? Who will be in the retained governance organization? These questions need to be defined at this point or your project is in jeopardy. Furthermore, by now, knowledge of the initiative may have “leaked” to the local press. The Communications team will need to have a scripted message prepared to deal with inquiries as to the initiative. You’ve now decided to move forward and sign an outsourcing agreement. The transition will occur in multiple waves and last anywhere from 6 to 18 months. Affected employees will need to be notified, severance packages will need to be communicated, retention bonuses (if required) will need to be enacted, and job outplacement services will need to be provided. The organization will undergo a large change management effort and HR will need to lead this undertaking. Do not underestimate the need for HR and communications teams to be involved very early on in the initiative. Obviously, the input and workload for HR increases as you make a decision to move forward, however their input and involvement is required from the beginning