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Steal Coatings Study

Hempel, an international coatings company based in Denmark, needed to know more about the American steel coatings market. The company has a variety of sustainable and high-quality coating products that sell well across the globe, but would their steel coatings sell in America? 

We partnered with their Houston-based marketing department to conduct over 30 interviews with steel fabricators and fireproofers 
across the U.S. to learn more about the market.

Studying Steel Coatings in the U.S.

The initial focus of the study was to understand steel fabricators’ processes and experiences with coatings in the fabrication shop. We also wanted to know what problems fabricators faced with the various coatings products/brands in the market.

After multiple interviews, we learned that many of the challenges fabricators faced could likely be prevented in design or managed in construction. We expanded our pool of interviewees to include general contractors, steel erectors, and structural engineers to get a more complete picture of the steel coating life cycle.

By broadening our initial questionnaire and interviewee audience, we uncovered the inefficiencies and challenges that appeared to impact all parties involved in that life cycle. These challenges were huge opportunities for our client—how could they leverage this knowledge to improve and market their processes and products to make end-users’ lives easier? 

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3 Main Pain Points During the Design Phase

  1. Designers are not educated on the process or the products.

  2. Designers don’t know how environmentally friendly primers are, but it is something they care about

  3. Designers don’t want to spec a specific shop primer because there are too many; they entrust others to make that choice

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From the interview findings and team discussions, Wonderstruct and Hempel’s marketing team collaborated to develop a list of assumptions and conclusions using industry studies and resources to back our findings. 

We provided visuals for a deck that Hempel presented to executives across the globe.

Expanding the Scope


The conclusions of the steel study sparked new questions about the American fireproofing market, and where Hempel’s liquid fireproofing products and processes might fit in.


Hempel asked us to expand on the study by interviewing fireproofers. We conducted 10 interviews and performed many of the same tactics we used to analyze the steel market.

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