Conventional wisdom says that the global automotive market is mature, yet industry insiders know that it is now undergoing a transformation and will continue to evolve rapidly as new innovations are introduced and gain traction. Paris-based Valeo Group has emerged at the forefront of innovation as a tier one supplier of powertrains, thermal systems, driving assistance and visibility systems for the world's leading automakers. In 2013, Valeo achieved record earnings of €12.1 billion, with 74,000+ employees at 175 plants and centers in 29 countries.
Valeo's strategy for 2014 and beyond is focused on two primary objectives. First, with ever-increasing public demand and regulations focused on reduction of CO2 emissions, Valeo ranks innovation for fuel efficiency as a top priority – complemented by "intuitive driving" systems that promote safety and connectivity. Second, as globalization of the auto industry continues, Valeo is committed to accelerating its development in Asia and emerging countries.
To compete effectively in this high-stakes race, Valeo's leadership team knows that they must be able to see the road ahead. Its decision makers need insights into what the big automakers – Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) – will need for new models next year and for the next decade, by understanding what consumers will be seeking in different vehicles and markets.
"Our mission is to anticipate demand for automotive innovations around the world," said Derek de Bono, Product Marketing Director at Valeo. "We don't want to be building the right product for today; we want to have the right product for tomorrow – before it's even requested. We want both customers and OEMs to see our products and say I want that in my car!"
For more than a decade, Valeo's Product Marketing team has successfully met this core challenge by leveraging information, analytics and expertise from Automotive.
Rigorous Market Research
Product Marketing professionals at Valeo conduct ongoing market research that combines qualitative and quantitative analysis in a process that includes:
- Long-term scenarios and market-specific analysis to map a range of outcomes, e.g. powertrain evolution
- Ethnographics, focus groups and car clinics to assess the needs and expectations of consumers
- Macro trends and interest in innovation, including consumer segmentation and intimacy with OEMs
- Online surveys measure market acceptance of innovations, price and positioning and more.
Throughout this critical research loop, Valeo's team uses information and insights from Automotive as their foundation, to predict what will happen in a given market space and what new products will be needed. Valeo draws on global sales and production intelligence from IHS Markit, as well as business and economic intelligence that includes financial forecasts, technology roadmaps, and applied methodologies for optimal product planning.
IHS Markit is the backbone. We began with IHS Markit forecasts but we built on them with two key elements: expertise and trust.
Valeo's Product Marketing team continually seeks best-in-class market intelligence from multiple providers. Over time, several of their preferred vendors came together within Automotive (e.g. Global Insight, CSM Worldwide, iSuppli and Polk) so Valeo analysts are now saving time and gaining insights by accessing information, analytics and expertise from one source.
"For Valeo, the important thing is the people at IHS Markit and their broad, deep expertise," said de Bono. "We are happy to see them together, working as a team to help us develop our vision of the future."
Innovation Strategy in a Global Context
Innovation is at the heart of Valeo's vision. Company strategists start by looking far ahead, 20-50 years in the future, at social megatrends and how they may influence the direction of the auto industry in decades ahead. This year, for instance, Valeo's Product Marketing team gained perspective on opportunities for growth in emerging markets from a new IHS Markit report on The Impact of New Urban Mobility on Automotive Markets and Industry.2
One of the Valeo Product Marketing team's most important deliverables is the company's Technology Development Plan (TDP). Each December, they present Valeo's CEO and senior leadership with the TDP for the next 10 years. And each May the team updates that TDP to reflect changes in technologies, legislation and/or consumer attitudes as well as Valeo's achievements over the past 6 months.
The Product Marketing team also provides Valeo's decision makers with more granular, faster-changing
information about target markets, customers and competitors.
Beyond the Data: Collaborating with Experts
To develop the best possible innovation strategies, Valeo's Product Marketing team works collaboratively with IHS Markit experts, forming a partnership that goes beyond the data. Valeo engages actively with IHS Markit experts, asking incisive questions in order to truly understand the latest information and analysis.
"IHS Markit is the backbone. We began with IHS Markit forecasts but we built on them with two key elements: expertise and trust," de Bono said. "The experts behind the forecasts give us trust in our analysis and decisions."
Strategy Enables Major Achievements
Valeo's forward-thinking Product Marketing strategy, supported by best-in-class information and insights from IHS Markit, enabled the company to achieve a series of benchmark successes in relation to its goals:
- Innovation Leadership – Ranked for the first time on the Thomson Reuters 100 Global Innovators.3
- CO2 Reduction - Led its category in the RobecoSAM and KPMG Sustainability Yearbook4
- Intuitive Driving/Safety – Introduced award-winning wipers, air intake, self-parking systems and more.
- Growth in Asia – Original equipment sales in China rose 31% in 2013, 16% higher than the market – the company's biggest increase in any region.5
The future looks bright for Valeo and the Product Marketing team is confident. "As our strategy has evolved, our needs have been dynamic," de Bono said. "IHS Markit has been flexible in working with us and has put together unprecedented resources to help us answer the question of where the market's going."