22 Oct 2018

INSEAD’s best-selling case authors demonstrate deeper learning about business success

Best-sellers , The Case Centre , Mauborgne , Kim , Chandon , Ulaga , Dubois

Five professors from INSEAD, the business school for the world, have been named in The Case Centre’s top 40 best-selling authors of academic year 2017/2018. The ranking is based on volume of sales from the preceding year.

Professors of Strategy W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, co-directors of the INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute and co-authors of the New York Times #1, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestseller Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing - Proven Steps to Inspire Confidence and Seize New Growth (Hachette, 2017), are ranked #7 for their cases featuring companies that seek out “blue oceans” of untapped market space, rather than competing head-to-head in “red oceans”. 

Reaching their highest ranked position in the past three years, their top best-selling cases are on Cirque du Soleil and Salesforce.com. “Instead of benchmarking itself to the competition, Cirque du Soleil made the competition irrelevant by focusing on differentiation and low cost simultaneously,” said Kim and Mauborgne. They call this logic “value innovation”, which provides a leap in value for customers at low cost.

Their case on Salesforce.com centres on the highly competitive customer relationship management (CRM) software market. Established players typically used traditional business models to sell software licenses to implement in-house, which can be complex and burdensome. “Salesforce challenged the conventional wisdom by launching an online sales force automation offering that freed customers from having to purchase licenses and enabled them to access web-based CRM tools,” said the professors.

Pierre Chandon, The L'Oréal Chaired Professor of Marketing - Innovation and Creativity at INSEAD, is ranked #18 by the Case Centre. His best-selling cases highlight how innovative marketing strategies can create value for companies. His case, Unilever in Brazil (1997-2007): Marketing Strategies for Low-Income Consumers, shows how Unilever approached marketing of detergent to the base of the pyramid. “The value of this case is to show that the basic principles of marketing, which is to make the effort to really understand your customer, can guide them to a solution even in a context—selling detergent to poor Brazilians who don’t own a washing machine—is totally foreign to them,” said Chandon.

Another of his top best-selling cases is Renova Toilet Paper: Avant-Garde Marketing in a Commoditized Category. The case shows how a paper products company based outside of Lisbon, Portugal, managed to differentiate itself from international competitors by transforming toilet paper from a commodity into a premium product, and then enter new business sectors through innovative marketing. “Renova broke all the norms of the industry and came up with a very innovative new product. It shows it can be done, that you can beat all the giants,” he said.

Pierre Chandon has previously won the Outstanding Contribution to the Case Method Award in 2016 and Outstanding Case Teacher Award in 2018. His latest case, Can 3G Capital Make Burger King Cool Again? Brand Building under Zero-Based Budgeting shows how private equity, when it understand branding, can grow both the business and the brand, at a fraction of the cost of traditional competitors.

Wolfgang Ulaga, Senior Affiliate Professor of Marketing at INSEAD, is ranked #31. Ulaga bases his research and teaching on value-based marketing, customer experience management, and service excellence in B2B markets. His best-selling cases focus on business model innovation and alternative growth avenues in challenging economic environments.

Ulaga’s top best-selling case Michelin Fleet Solutions: From Selling Tires to Selling Kilometers, centres on how a worldwide leader in the tyre industry expanded into the new world of services and solutions with a comprehensive tyre-management solution offer for large European transportation companies, called Michelin Fleet Solutions. The company ventured into selling kilometres, instead of tyres.

This case allows for an excellent discussion of how B2B companies can differentiate from competition in commoditised markets and grow their presence in strategic customer accounts by designing and integrating all building blocks of a new solution business model that reaches far beyond manufacturers’ traditional product-centric organisations and cultures,” says Ulaga. 

Ulaga has previously won the Marketing category award for his cases in 2015 and 2016, as well as the Outstanding Case Writer Award in 2016 for his case GE Healthcare India (A): The Marketing Challenge Of Low-Resource Customers.

David Dubois, Associate Professor of Marketing & Cornelius Grupp Fellow in Digital Analytics for Consumer Behaviour, ranked #37, is the highest new entrant in the rankings this year. The core of his research and teaching intersects digital technologies, customer centricity and brand management. One of his best-selling cases, Ombre, Tie-Dye, Splat Hair: Trends of Fads? “Pull” and “Push” Social Media Strategies at L’Oréal Paris describes how companies leverage big data from search and social media analytics, integrate digital and social media insights into new product development strategies and thus successfully capture and create new value through pull and push dynamics.

After discovering momentum on the web indicating increasing interest for a particular hairstyle in 2011, L'Oréal Paris developed a new hair dye solution targeting this need and integrate their new insights at different points on their value chain, from branding to positioning and product development. “This case demonstrates that the ability to integrate digital intelligence gives companies a significant competitive advantage in understanding and anticipating consumer preferences through digital analytics,” said Dubois.

Another of Dubois’ best-selling case, AccorHotels and the Digital Transformation: Enriching Experiences through Content Strategies along the Customer Journey, offers a forum to discuss what it means for a company to engage its digital transformation to foster customer-centricity. The case dissects AccorHotels’ ambitious digital transformation aiming to put the customer back at the center of its strategy and operations. “What I like about this case is that it shows that success in a digital world is a function of implementing a digital marketing organisation rather than a mere matter of investing in digital technologies.

Dubois has previously won the Marketing category award for cases in 2017 and 2018.

Ziv Carmon, Dean of Research and Professor of Marketing at INSEAD, added, “I  am proud that once again INSEAD faculty dominate the spotlight for the Case Centre’s top 40 bestselling authors. Congratulations to Chan, Renee, Pierre, Wolfgang and David as well as to the INSEAD staff members who provide extraordinary support to help write, shape, promote and distribute our cases. These prestigious achievements—the result of our faculty’s consistent dedication to producing world-class teaching materials—help INSEAD remain a world leader in business education.”

With a proven track record of teaching excellence, INSEAD professors and writers have a thorough grasp on what makes a good case and deliver publications of the highest standard.  With rigour and relevance, INSEAD cases define quality in the field.

Chandon says a good case has a clear learning objective, “It identifies important and integral issues that many businesses face. It is not simply a good piece of journalism about what happened at a particular company.” 

INSEAD has received 14 Overall Case Awards and numerous category awards from The Case Centre. In 2018 alone, its faculty has won nine prestigious international awards and competitions. Today, more than 100 business schools and universities around the world use INSEAD cases.