Featured case:
TomTom: Mapping the Course from B2C to B2B

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The case

Who – the protagonist


Corinne Vigreux, co-founder of TomTom, former head of TomTom's Consumer division, and currently head of TomTom's Group Strategy.


TomTom popularity

TomTom is a Dutch software technology company. Although best known for its portable navigation device (PND), TomTom is now generating more than half of its revenues from location and navigation technology development, licensing and sales to automotive and hi-tech companies.


Constant disruption in hi-tech industries has forced TomTom to reinvent itself over and over again, initially through developing hardware and direct-to-consumer sales for its navigation software, then more recently, by refocusing on its expansive technology base to become a B2B navigation technologies market leader for automotive and hi-tech businesses.

Google's intrusion into TomTom's automotive space, through Google's recent win of a major automotive contract with Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, is TomTom's newest challenge.


The case is set on 18 September 2018, the day when TomTom lost 25% of its share value following Google's announcement that they would be supplying Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi's infotainment and navigation systems.


TomTom's global headquarters is in Amsterdam, but the company has offices in 35 countries and nearly 5000 employees.

tomtomKey quote

“The business is no longer only for consumers but mainly for B2B. The association of a consumer brand of the business is so strong that we also have to find new ways of talking to our customers and showcasing our technologies. It’s quite complex. How do you explain those technologies in the way that people can understand exactly what we do? That's probably the biggest challenge." – Corinne Vigreux, co-founder of TomTom.

What next?

People love debating about the future of mobility and the exciting changes taking place in the automotive industry. Which companies will emerge as the winners, or losers, in the transition to self-driving, electric vehicles? Both the traditional automotive manufacturers, as well as the largest tech firms, such as Google, Uber and Apple, are all positioning themselves for a stake in the new market.

Additionally, tech firms have repeatedly demonstrated that they can upend traditional industries faster than anyone ever thought possible. TomTom has cutting edge technologies in HD mapping, location, navigation, and traffic information, but its presence among automotive and tech giants poses huge challenges – and opportunities.

Interested in finding out more?

Download the case and teaching note

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TomTom: Mapping the Course from B2C to B2B
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TomTom: Mapping the Course from B2C to B2B – Executive Summary
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Teaching note
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The case is supported by a dedicated website, which hosts multimedia material and teaching presentation slides to compliment the case itself.

The authors

Niela Kleinsmith, Matthieu Campion, Stefano Puntoni, Steven Sweldens and Tao Yue

Steven, Stefano and Tao discuss the power of inside company knowledge and why TomTom works so well in cases.

Why the case was developed

Steven said: “We regularly receive requests from MBAs for more insights into B2B branding and how that differs from B2C branding. The vast majority of branding-related cases are in B2C, because most exciting and well-known brands are in B2C.

“At the same time, the majority of our MBA and other students will get jobs in B2B-oriented companies, as they make up more than two thirds of the economy. So, there’s a clear disconnect between the marketing cases we offer and the ones the students really need. This case was designed to fill that gap.

Unique learning experience

Steven commented: “First, TomTom is a brand that people know – or that they think they know. But there’s a huge disconnect between the general public’s perception of the TomTom brand (a consumer brand, “the satnav of your grandparents”) and the company’s current portfolio of cutting-edge mapping, navigation, and location technology products, which are oriented towards businesses such as car companies and tech platforms, rather than end consumers as in the past.

“Much of our case discussion centers on how brands need to be managed over time. What do you do when your products have changed, your technologies have changed, your target audience has changed, yet your brand perceptions have lagged behind? We outline various options to participants after they have read the case, but before the start of the case discussion. What’s interesting is that by the end of the discussion, participants generally arrive at completely different conclusions about what should be done compared with their initial assessment, through a series of 'aha!' moments.

An inspiring protagonist

Steven added: “The main protagonist, Corinne Vigreux, adds a lot of value to the case.

“Ms Vigreux is one of the most established female leaders in the technology landscape and is widely recognised for her contributions to business and society. She is a co-founder of TomTom and was in charge of its crucial consumer division for a decade. She has been a trailblazer for women in technology; she recently founded, and is funding, a free coding school in Amsterdam, Codam College, designed to help young people, and especially women, develop themselves into ‘digital visionaries’, and to help fill the growing need for tech talent. In Vigreux, we have an inspirational, globally-known female leader in an otherwise male-dominated sector.

“So, this case also fills a gap between existing cases – which predominantly feature male role models and protagonists – and our target audience, which generally consists of 30-70% of women in our classrooms. We hope that in spotlighting such a tech champion as Ms Vigreux, we can inspire female technology entrepreneurs globally.”

How the authors developed the case

Stefano explained: “The idea for this case came from Matthieu’s In-Company Project, supervised by Steven, which was a key part of Matthieu’s Executive MBA degree at RSM. As the former Head of Corporate Marketing Communications for Automotive at TomTom, Matthieu's information, insights, and contacts at TomTom were invaluable.

“Niela then led the writing process, together with Steven and I. Niela brought excellent writing skills, as well as a very sophisticated understanding of business strategy.

“Throughout 2017 and 2018, TomTom and its competitive landscape were continuously evolving, which allowed us to further develop the interest and tension in the case.

“Moreover, Steven and I were constantly developing new ideas about potential uses for the case; the case was recalibrated many times, to give away enough information to enable a rich in-class discussion, but not enough to give away some of the surprising conclusions and insightful learnings. We also tried different versions of the case with groups of students prior to publication to check our intuitions about the content and about how to teach the case (see detailed teaching note).

"Finally, we worked closely with TomTom to finalise the case, gathering their detailed feedback to amend the case in such a way that we could all be happy with the final outcome. We are delighted with the result."

Supporting materials

Stefano concluded: “Tao stepped in for the supporting materials, which include an introductory video to the case and the dilemma, teaching presentation slides, a video to supplement the teaching slides and teaching note, and a set of videos that show TomTom senior management’s responses to the case questions – all of this hosted on the case's own website.

“The materials are rich, and the case focal issues are complex, so many points of view are required to give a complete picture.

“Additionally, instructors like to have well prepared teaching slides and videos to show to students who are accustomed to audio-video content. In the near future, RSM CDC is publishing more such website-supported, multi-source, rich cases.”

About the authors

Niela Kleinsmith is the former Senior Case Writer at Rotterdam School of Management Case Development Center.
e cdc@rsm.nl

Matthieu Campion is the former Head of Corporate Marketing Communications at TomTom. He is now General Manager – Electric Vehicle Business at Mitsubishi Motors Europe.

Stefano Puntoni is Professor of Marketing at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University.
e spuntoni@rsm.nl

Steven Sweldens is Professor of Consumer Behavior and Marketing at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University.

Tao Yue is Managing Editor at Rotterdam School of Management Case Development Center.


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