Customer Experience

Hunting for Growth

Dow Chemical uses technology—and a human touch—to connect with customers around the globe.

by Aaron Lazenby

August 2016

The Dow Chemical Company is a diverse multinational company with a business-to-business-to-consumer model that touches agriculture, packaging, industrial manufacturing, and more. The company creates more than 5,000 products for customers in more than 150 countries.


Dow Chemical

    Location: Midland, Michigan

    Industry: Industrial manufacturing

    Employees: 49,500

    Revenue: US$49 billion

    Oracle products: Oracle Marketing Cloud, Oracle Social Cloud


    Director of Marketing and Demand Generation and Director of Commercial Discipline, EMEAI

    Length of tenure: Six years

    Education: BS in applied linguistics and economics, University of Brussels, Belgium; MS in integrated business communications, Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel

    Personal quote/mantra: “Smart technology or ‘digital’ is only an enabler.”


“Take packaging, for example,” says Dow’s Hubertus Devroye, director of marketing and demand generation and director of commercial discipline for Europe, Middle East, Africa, and India (EMEAI). “You obviously have people that use our science and solutions to manufacture the packaging, but then you also have, for example, food companies putting their products in that package. Ultimately, you have a consumer who expects value and who needs to have a convenient experience using that package. Our company actually needs to influence all those parties in real time.”


Within Dow, Devroye has a complex job. On the one hand, he is in charge of commercial products for a large and diverse region that stretches from Great Britain to India. On the other, he has the global responsibility for aligning outbound strategy and execution across numerous organizations at Dow. His “think local, act global” experience has paid off: Devroye is a two-time winner of Oracle Marketing’s Markie Awards for his work introducing and implementing data marketing, driving change management around the importance of audience segmentation, and more, and he won the Markie for Global Modern Marketing Leader in 2013.

Here, Devroye talks to Profit about listening to customers, creating unique solutions, and how technology—including Oracle Marketing Cloud—is helping Dow reach customers in the right way.

Profit: How do you drive growth within a large, global, decentralized organization?

Devroye: We are a global company, and we touch pretty much every point in the value chain, but we are also a local company. We obviously have a phenomenal business with mature markets, but we also have markets that are growing and emergent. So a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t really work for us.

It is essential to know our customers, talk to them, listen to them, gather information, channel leads to the global and local sales force, and gather insights that you share with R&D to drive customer- and market-driven innovation. Modern marketing technologies enable you to do this quickly, cost efficiently, and with measurable impact. In addition to driving external customer experience, at Dow, we have also focused on the user experience of our own employees who are working with these new capabilities.

We are a science and technology company, so data is part of our DNA.”

Profit: With so many different kinds of customers across the value chain, how do you know which solution will work for a particular market?

Devroye: The model that we have been applying in our company is a centrally governed, decentralized model. We have central governance, because we are a global brand, and we drive reliability to our markets and customers globally. But we create local solutions based on what the market and customers need. When it comes to marketing, one broad message doesn’t work anymore, so we must continuously nurture different audiences in real time, in their local language, and with relevant local content.

Because we are dealing with complex markets and various customer demands, we continuously innovate our go-to-market approach market by market; we often do small experiments, make them work, and then scale them quickly.

For example, in Kenya, we communicate directly to tens of thousands of farmers to drive demand for our solutions. Farmers are not working regular hours in an office. Instead they are spending the majority of their time in a field. Markets such as Kenya have a phenomenal mobile presence. Therefore, the channel of choice was text messaging—instead of email—which is convenient for the target audience to access in real time. Ultimately we know that the ones who are interested will look up our solutions on the web or via other information channels.

In Germany, on the other hand, we took a different approach because most of our audiences were more easily reached through traditional media. To drive the audience to mobile, we actually sent a traditional postcard with a personalized message and URL for the farmer to opt in and provide a profile. The whole idea behind this campaign was that the farmers would keep the postcards and would go to the online channel at a time convenient for them. This was another experiment, and here we are three years later, with farmers still accessing the same campaign through their personalized URLs. We have used this strategy now in multiple markets and on different parts of our portfolio.

Profit: How do you use data to improve and grow your business?

Devroye: We are a science and technology company, so data is part of our DNA. We are always hunting for growth, whether it’s in mature or emergent markets. For example, in mature markets, we mine existing customer and market data to learn more about customers we have been working with for many years, for cross-marketing and cross-selling new innovations and solutions. This is a significant growth opportunity for us.

Data also drives a phenomenal change in our transformation from a product-focused to a solution- and market-focused company. Data determines how to use different technologies and solutions for different audiences, how to apply different go-to-market processes, how to execute high-impact product launches, and how to nurture the entire value chain.

We had to recognize that we needed to look at “good data” as much as at “bad data.” When campaigns were not as successful as we thought they would be, or when we had less audience engagement, looking at the bad data gave us insights into how we could continue to improve our messaging and content. It kept us honest.

Finally, very often in companies with people who have lots of sales and marketing experience, there are lots of opinions. You can actually turn a very opinionated, heated debate into a meaningful discussion, because data doesn’t lie.

Profit: What role does Oracle play in helping you grow?

Devroye: At the beginning of 2012, we brought Oracle Marketing Cloud capabilities in on the commercial side of our business to drive marketing execution and close the vacuum between marketing and sales. Oracle Marketing Cloud helps us to optimize our channels in all markets to ultimately sell our solutions and products and satisfy our customer base.

A great example of this is our sample management follow-up campaign we have executed with Oracle Marketing Cloud for a few years. We ship thousands of samples to customers and prospects to pilot new products and drive innovation and sales. We know that when someone requests a sample, he has a specific use in mind. For us, on the commercial side of the business, he becomes a “lead.” So we started asking the recipient of the sample about the end use of the sample, the trial times, and other important information in order to adjust our services and our follow-up based on customer feedback.

If the recipient of the sample says trials were successful, the system automatically triggers a message to the account manager. If trials failed, the system alerts our applied technologies team to provide technical support. If the recipient needs more information, the system alerts the marketing team to follow up.

We have had a response rate of more than 50 percent—which is very, very impressive. Oracle Marketing Cloud lets us reach people very quickly and easily. However, the principle behind this campaign was just bringing a personalized and human touch to an important commercial process. Many of our customers responded and said, “Thank you for asking.”

Profit: What role does cloud computing play in your commercial strategy?

Devroye: For me, it’s always about business—optimizing our commercial processes and hunting for more business. Ultimately, no one gets paid according to tweets, clicks, and Likes. We get paid according to sales and customer satisfaction. We had to build the foundation first. Oracle Marketing Cloud helped us to make the connections between our marketing and sales funnel and our customer relationship management capabilities. Now that we have end-to-end transparency between marketing and sales, we continue to optimize and innovate.

In recent times, we started to experiment with Oracle Marketing Cloud to work on several social listening initiatives. There is so much noise out there that we need to translate into something that makes sense for our customers and ourselves. I hope our efforts on social ultimately become a lead for sales, an insight for our technology teams to follow up on, or an important data point for us to improve on.

Modern marketing capabilities also help us to continue to improve inside the company as well, whether it’s in employee communications, in improved user experience on internal processes, or in the important area of talent attraction and retention. After all, we all are also consumers inside our company.

Action Items
  • Marketing Automation Simplified
  • Photography by Shutterstock