Best Practices: How the pharmaceutical and chemical company Merck markets products that require explanation

New digital solutions offer the opportunity to increase efficiency, for example in terms of reach, speed and cost. They offer added value for marketing, sales and customers. Today, customers are happy about intelligent, digital solutions that also save them time and costs.
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Digital consulting at Merck

In recent years it has become clear that customers no longer want to wait for sales to visit them, they want to find the right solution themselves. Merck has therefore developed a tool called the "Cosmetic Blend Selector" that customers can use to find the right solution for them without waiting for a sales representative. This tool is integrated into the Merck website and connected to the web shop. It also supports your own sales staff (e.g. at trade fairs) by combining analogue and digital options.

The aim of the Cosmetic Blend Selector is, on the one hand, to generate leads and, on the other hand, to accompany customers in their product development and help them to bring their products to market quickly and cheaply.

From the tool, the customer can view the availability and the price, request a quotation, order a sample or buy the pigment directly. The tool thus shortens the sales cycle enormously and enables individual advice digitally as well.

B2B customer contact in times of digitalisation

Digitization is not only a big term, no, digitization also forces companies to constantly adapt their sales strategy in order not to be pushed out of the market. The following applies: Whoever is fast, wins! The big challenge here is finding the right solution that suits your company and whether the implementation of new strategies can be managed internally or external support is more efficient.

Merck, founded in 1668, has already had to go through many a structural change. The constant adaptation and realignment of marketing and sales strategies has not done any harm. Even today, the DAX-listed company is recording a steady increase in sales, most recently by 12.3 %.

What does Merck KGaA do differently from other traditional companies to still be so successful? A simple explanation would be that they simply move with the times! But, as we all know, there is no such thing as simple in B2B.

A key to success: Know your customer and the customer journey

The customer journey can be divided into four steps:

  1. awareness
  2. consideration
  3. Purchase
  4. loyalty

In B2B, it can take up to three years from the initial awareness phase to the purchase. The reasons for this are manifold. In contrast to B2C products, B2B products are often very complex and require explanation, the costs are high (e.g. due to a high number of units) and when purchasing, companies usually decide on a long-term cooperation.

In order to constantly optimise the customer journey, it is helpful to repeatedly answer the following questions:

  • Who is your client?
  • What is the customer's expectation?
  • What are your client's problems?
  • How and where do we address him?
  • And at what point in the customer journey are they when we address them?

Opportunities and challenges in the marketing of products requiring explanation, using the example of Merck Surface Solution

Merck is represented in three sectors: Health Care, Life Science and Electronics. All three pursue different Go2Market approaches. Under the label SurfaceSolution sells Merck, pigments, colors and effects. The Cosmetic Blend product line is used in very different products such as cars, food, cosmetics, interior design, packaging, electronics and many more.

The challenges at Surface Solution are that marketing and sales processes in the pigment business are very specific and complex. In addition, the effects appear different on the website and digitally than in real life. This makes online counseling difficult. For this reason, Merck strives to provide customers with the best possible online advice and to enable access to the necessary information at the right time.

Focus on the consideration phase

The awareness phase is already very well covered at Merck. The greatest potential to generate leads to customers lies in the consideration phase. The question that arises in this phase is: How can we digitally help our customers with their purchase decision?

On the one hand, Merck pursues classic marketing and sales approaches:

  • Classic direct sales via own field sales force
  • Differentiation through innovation and application know-how
  • Strong presence at trade fairs
  • Strong focus on brochures and demo tools, but very difficult to keep up to date

But these are complemented by new and innovative solutions:

  • Digital counselling tool

In response to changing customer behavior and changing customer expectations, Surface Solution has introduced the Cosmetic Blend Selector.

CONCLUSION: Digital consulting is the future in the marketing of products that require explanation

In order to successfully market products in need of explanation, B2B companies should

  • Focus on the relevant marketing channels within the customer journey
  • Generate phase- and persona-specific communication and offers
  • Put more focus on the consideration phase
  • Linking the internal infrastructure with the marketing channels
  • look for innovative marketing and sales solutions on the market


We look forward to your inquiry about the Digital Product Selector. Let's digitize B2B sales together in a sustainable way!

phone+49 211 1586 4066
addressOststrasse 10, 40211 Düsseldorf