Success shaped by anthropology

Success shaped by anthropology
October 23, 2019

Customer-led innovation

Many companies promise to put customers first, but at Knauf Insulation we aim to go further using anthropological research techniques to unlock what is really needed on job sites. Agnieszka Strzemińska, Marketing Manager for Poland and the Baltics, explains.

A team of anthropologists has been helping our colleagues come to a deeper understanding of the challenges facing customers on construction sites and how we can help. We wanted to develop beyond traditional conversations about issues such as prices, after-sales service or technical details and pursue a more authentic level of customer knowledge. For that we needed anthropological expertise.


The result has been KI Discovery, an initiative that started with a pilot project in the Baltics and has now grown to include 114 of our colleagues across 68 construction sites providing hundreds of insights.

The project is now gaining momentum right across our company. Agnieszka Strzemińska, our Marketing Manager for Poland and the Baltics, says the project evolved from a need to achieve a real understanding of construction site issues to genuinely address the challenges facing installers.
“To ensure this was a success it was important to find the time, expertise and right approach to understand the work of installers and carefully listen to them being experts in their job,” she explains. “We were used to talking to installers on a daily basis but the circumstances were usually connected to sales — and making a presentation is not a conversation.”

To be authentically customer-centric it is vital to establish the dynamics of having a conversation, she says. ”It became clear that when we genuinely engaged and listened to installers, we became knowledgeable and understood their expertise rather than simply presenting ourselves, selling a solution.” Using research methodology, supported by anthropological experts, colleagues were trained in new ways of observing, interviewing and learning. This meant asking more open questions and learning to understand “what customers need, not what they want”.


“We want to really understand our customers – not the ‘polished versions’ of themselves – but the authentic versions that are real and active on site,” says Agnieszka.
“We want to provide innovations based on real needs and increase the perceived value of our products and solutions. With KI Discovery this is what we are achieving.”

"We want to really understand our customers – not the ‘polished versions’ of themselves – but the authentic versions that are real and active on site."
Agnieszka Strzemińska, Marketing Manager for Poland and the Baltics

Agnieszka Strzemińska, Marketing Manager for Poland


Knauf Insulation Systems Division updated our popular Exper-teK calculation tool and created new Building Information Modelling (BIM) objects for HVAC solutions and fire protection products. The 2.0 version of the Exper-teK tool allows customers to calculate heat loss and energy costs followed by recommendations from our portfolio. Exper-teK is free and can be used for pipe, ducts, equipment and flat surface calculations. Our BIM objects for Thermo-teK (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning insulation) and Fire-teK (fire protection for air ducts) feature data to design and realise construction projects in a BIM environment.


In Russia, we are piloting a Direct Delivery project for a few loyal installers in Moscow. Installers get insulation faster than from their nearest store at competitive prices. Russian customers are also benefiting from a return-oninvestment calculator which demonstrates energy savings using our insulation. The calculator can be found at In addition, customers can enjoy exploring a range of potential new-build homes on, Russia’s biggest DIY homebuilding website. To help customers with energy-saving, each house project plan is linked to our solutions.




Our new Captain K Partner Program offers professional installers a wealth of customer insight, training opportunities, professional tips, instant-win opportunities and a range of rewards and benefits. The aim of the Captain K app is to provide essential support to installers directly on-site, which helps their customers get more expertise and even more out of our energy-saving solutions. Further useful features such as calculation and measuring tools as well as precise installation weather forecasts and reference book are also set to be integrated step-by-step, to develop the program further and keep it attractive for our customers. Installers can collect K-points in return for purchasing our products; attending Knauf Insulation events such as training workshops; taking part in surveys or visiting exhibitions and so on. K-points points can be exchanged for top-quality tools, electronic goods or household items and the installer with the most product scans every month receives an instant reward. Poland was the first country to benefit from Captain K.








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