The Case Centre’s bestselling authors

Pierre Chandon

Pierre Chandon

"The key is to understand that the goal of a case is not to describe what is going on in a company or an industry but to help students better understand how to solve business problems."

I don’t think that writing cases is very difficult and I would encourage everyone to give it a try. The key is to understand that the goal of a case is not to describe what is going on in a company or an industry but to help students better understand how to solve business problems, such as how to brand a commodity (the topic of my Renova Toilet Paper case, The Case Centre’s Overall Award Winner in 2012), or how to market to low-income consumers (the topic of the Unilever in Brazil case, The Case Centre’s Overall Award Winner in 2008).

The three essentials

First and foremost, identify an important business issue which is not covered well in existing cases, perhaps because they are too old, too US-centric, or too messy. Then, articulate the case around this issue, eliminating any information that is irrelevant to that particular topic, even if it means simplifying some of the contextual aspects of the case.

Second, secure the collaboration of the company and make sure that they are willing to give you access and permission to publish the case. This is essential to understand their thought process and to knowing exactly what happened and why (including the alternative solutions that they considered but rejected, which should be mentioned in the case).

Third, focus on an exciting industry or company. If everything else is equal, students will be more motivated to prepare the case if it is about an industry or company that they are interested in (for example, a company that is recruiting!). It is even better if the case is motivating (eg, about a success rather than a failure) because it will motivate students to continue to learn about the issue and will build the confidence necessary for action.

Favourite case

My most recent case, L’Oréal in China (2013), is my favourite of all those I’ve written. First, because it is a case about a fundamental strategic issue: should you position your brand on functional or on lifestyle benefits? The answer is surprising and the results are terrific. Second, because it allows students to learn about the Chinese consumer markets, the largest in the world, with a particular focus on the Chinese love affair with luxury, social media, and e-commerce. L’Oréal gave us unprecedented access, allowing us to create dozens of short video interviews with its management team, its retailers, and end consumers, which are available on the instructor web site

Most admired

I love the Steinway & Sons: Buying a Legend case by John T Gourville and Joseph B Lassiter III because it creates passionate discussions between students (especially the musicians) who want to preserve the brand’s high-end, niche strategy heritage as the maker of the world’s pre-eminent vertical and grand pianos, and the more business-oriented ones who believe a bolder, more aggressive plan is needed.

I think that the quality of a case depends a lot on the quality of the information provided to the teachers. That’s why I have created a website for all my cases, where instructors can download a detailed teaching note with step-by-step advice on how to teach the case, many videos (including interviews and television commercials), a PowerPoint presentation that I use in class, and a video of me teaching at INSEAD. 

View cases written by Pierre

About the author

Pierre Chandon is the L’Oréal Chaired Professor of Marketing, Innovation and Creativity at INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France, and the Director of the INSEAD Social Science Research Centre. He has been nominated multiple times for the Best Teacher award and has received the Dean’s Commendation for Excellence in Teaching every year since its inception. Before joining INSEAD, Pierre was at London Business School and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has also held visiting positions at Kellogg School of Management, The Wharton School, and Harvard Business School.

His primary research interests focus on the effects of marketing (for example, packaging design and health claims) and emotions (for example, football defeats) on food choices. He has published in marketing and psychology journals, such as Psychological Science, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Research, and Journal of Marketing and also in nutrition and medical journals, such as Obesity, Nutrition Reviews, and Annals of Internal Medicine. His research has been the subject of media coverage in Europe and in the US by, among others, The New York Times, The Economist, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, NPR, Cosmopolitan, and the Rush Limbaugh show.

Pierre received the 2012 O’Dell award for his Journal of Marketing Research article on calorie underestimation, which was judged to have made the most significant long-term contribution to marketing. He has also written numerous award-winning case studies and his cases have won a number of awards from The Case Centre, including the Overall Award Winner twice: in 2008 with Unilever in Brazil, and in 2012 with Renova Toilet Paper: Avant-Garde Marketing in a Commoditized Category. He has worked with many consumer and luxury goods companies, including Danone, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Ferrero, LVMH, and L’Oréal, as well as for various governmental organisations.


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