Case Detail

Case Summary

DuPont Tyvek(TM): Commercializing a Disruptive Innovation

Case Number: 5-306-510, Year Published: 2006

HBS Number: KEL194

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Authors: Scott Buchanan; Robert A Cooper

Key Concepts

Innovation Management, Marketing, Sales, Channel Management, Product Management


What happens when a company is faced with a unique market challenge with the potential to change the way business is done—a true market disruption? This was the challenge faced by the European business team of DuPont’s Tyvek Housewrap business. The adoption of the Kyoto protocol created new challenge on the construction industry in Great Britain that the DuPont team felt they could meet. To enforce the Kyoto Protocol, the UK government threatened to fine utility companies and builders who did not adhere to new emissions standards. This case deploys the Innovation Radar framework that encourages a business to think through all the issues of a business system leading to a successful introduction and a sustainable business. DuPont’s European Tyvek team had to devise a solution at the intersection of multiple elements. Specifically: who should they target? How would they describe the product’s value proposition? Through what channels could they reach the key decision makers? How could they overcome the inertia of the existing business system? LEARNING OBJECTIVE: The key learning of this case is that all the issues relevant to bringing an innovation to market must be recognized and dealt with in an integrated fashion when introducing major new business initiatives. The Innovation Radar is a useful framework that integrates key questions around WHAT the product is, to clearly define WHO key customers are, HOW the product affects their desired outcomes, and WHERE the product should be placed in market. The elements in the Radar comprise a complete business system of innovation.

Number of Pages: 13

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Management, Marketing, Strategy

Geographic: Great Britain

Industry: Home Construction Materials

Organization Name: E.I. DuPont

Organization Department: Marketing

Organization Size: Large

Decision Maker Position: Business Director

Decision Maker Gender: Male

Year of Case: 2005