Alcoa: The Race to Light-weighting (pdf abstract)
Purchase the full report on GlobaLens (Case study #1-430-435) – published 08/2015, 24 pages

Now available in Spanish:
Alcoa: La carrera hacia el aligeramiento (pdf abstract)
Purchase the full report on GlobaLens (Case study #1-430-461) – published 08/2015, 24 pages

Developed by: Pavel Azgaldov, Camila España, Caroline Larose, and Denise Miller (all Erb alumnus) under the supervision of Andrew Hoffman, Erb Faculty Member and Jordan Siegel, Visiting Associate Professor of Strategy, at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan

Description: The race to lightweighting is well underway with the introduction of the aluminum body Ford F150. Raj Reddy, vice president of strategy for global rolled products at Alcoa, one of the biggest aluminum manufacturers in the world, knows, however, that the competition in the aluminum market will get stiffer with the introduction of more stringent CAFE standards. The company could look to newer bonding technologies and customization of services for its prized clients like Ford to diversify or invest in R&D to increase the ductility and strength of its core products. Students are asked to find strategies to define and boost Alcoa’s value proposition.

Teaching Note: Available to Registered Educators. Please login to view it.

Teaching Points: After reading and discussing this case, students should be able to:

  • Define Alcoa’s distinct value proposition and competitive advantage.
  • Consider Alcoa’s product portfolio and the advantages and disadvantages of being strongly tied to one industry.
  • Decide how Alcoa should respond to increased competition and defend its position in the industry.
  • Consider how Alcoa should respond to aluminum manufacturing in China.
  • Analyze both vertical and horizontal product differentiation strategies to explain how aluminum businesses can compete with one another in a commoditized industry as well as indirectly with those in different industries, such as steel and carbon fiber.