Many people have asked "how do we speed up the Category Management process to take advantage of any quick wins or low hanging fruit?".
Ideally you shouldn't shorten the process as it takes into account all the valid steps needed to properly analyse the situation and put a solid strategy in place to achieve your goals but when you break down the individual components of Category Management you will better understand what questions you really need to ask and what the probable outcomes will be. The process can be broken into 3 stages and by understanding these stages you can then customize these to suit your own needs hence shortening or speeding up the process (Fast track).
Stage one the assessment stage, what do I know or need to know?
In this stage we ask ourselves what do we know about the category, what do we know about the consumer and what do we know about the brands or retailers in this segment, it will also help us decide what type of strategy we need and what objectives need to be set to meet our goal. The goal could be a growth target, a market share target or an awareness target. In this step you should elements of the following steps;
1. Define category
Possibly the most important step as it will define your understanding of the retailer, their customers and who buys your brand. This step will look at the consumer decision tree to see how customers shop the category. You will find out if they shop by brand, sub-brand, packaging, quality, flavour etc. Upon completion you will define a category or a product grouping based on the results.
2. Category role
The role identifies the importance of the category. For example a retailer may want the category to bring new consumers into the store, be a traffic generator, meet their routine needs or be a destination for seasonal or occasional purchases. So retailers may assign different roles to categories depending on the customers they want to attract. The four types of roles are destination, routine, seasonal and convenience.
3. Category assessment
Possibly the most time consuming part of the process this stage looks at all the data available including any market or consumer research and may even require new research based on its outcome. You will look at Sales by category, sub-category, brand, SKU, promotions, market growth/decline as well as any consumer trends or changes in consumer buying habits.
Stage two the strategy stage, what have I learned?
The strategy stage is where we build a detailed plan of action and define what measurement criteria to set, this is the most important stage as it defines what needs to be done to achieve the category objectives or goals. This is a part where shortcuts are not recommended but you can speed up the timeframe.
4. Category scorecard
The scorecard is an important step in the process as it connects the analysis part of the process (category definition and segmentation, role development, and assessment) to the strategy part of the process (strategy development, assortment, pricing, in-store presentation and promotion) In this part you summarise what you have learnt and create the goals or objectives for the category.
5. Category strategies
The category strategy will define what is needed to achieve the categories role. Examples of category strategies are; traffic builder, transaction builder, profit generator, share protector, excitement generator or image enhancer. To achieve these strategies a combination of assortment, price, promotion and merchandising tactics will be used.
6. Category tactics
Tactics include specific actions to be taken to achieve chosen category strategies. They will look at what marketing activities, types of promotions, changes to assortment, communication strategy and planogram or fixture changes.
(This is the stage where new planogram and range assortments are planned)
Stage three the Implementation Stage, what actions am I going to take
"When a plan comes together" The implementation stage can be the success or failure of a category strategy, you must have a clear plan of who is responsible for what and when it needs to be done by. If a Cat Man process is likely to fail it most likely will fail in this part of the process due to misunderstanding or incomplete implementation. This is why its so important to allocate proper resources and to review progress so you can learn what further actions are needed to ensure continued success!
7. Implement plan
This is the action step that brings your strategies and tactics to life and the part where responsibilities are assigned to implement the changes. It is also the part where many processes fail due to the failure to get buy in or the failure to agree the changes. The degree to which you accurately implement the plan will dictate its success.
8. Review and assess performance
Analyse, measure and review the results. This should be ongoing and used to help you refocus and make changes if necessary.
If your interested in starting a new category management process and want to know more or need help get in touch as we have experienced category managers ready to help.
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Hi Gerry, that’s a really useful breakdown of the steps involved in category management. Do you see it as a procurement process applied to business or should it become an embedded strategic process across all areas of an organisation? How can this be achieved without causing conflict? Do you have any other posts addressing this? Thank you.
Gerry Byrne says
Thanks for the complement!
In answer to your question; Do you see it as a procurement process applied to business or should it become an embedded strategic process across all areas of an organisation?
Firstly in my opinion there are two types of Category Management, one based on a partnership approach between Supplier/Manufacturer & Retailer in order to satisfy a consumer need (Traditional Cat Man) and the other which is referred to (Procurement Cat Man) the latter I’m not as familiar with as I’m more focused on Retailer-Supplier-Consumer based Cat Man but I believe procurement Cat Man has many similarities and is also a partnership approach but does not have an end consumer in the same way as traditional Cat Man does and is very much a buying/procurement role.
But if your question applies to traditional Cat Man then;
Cat Man is ideally suited to maximising sales and profitability for both retailer & supplier while ensuring the customer/consumer has a better shopping experience which results in more sales etc.
This can be achieved by following the Cat Man process i.e. the 8 step process https://shelfstock.ie/website-content/uploads/2014/08/The-eight-steps-of-Category-Management.pdf
This process as described on my blog https://shelfstock.ie/has-category-management-evolved-into-catman-2-0-2/ has indeed evolved and is only really successful nowadays if it becomes ‘embedded’ as you rightly point out in a company’s makeup, the reason been it needs to be supported at all levels of the company to be successful and not just the marketing department
Let me explain;
Category Management at its core is ‘consumer/shopper focused’ you start with asking what the consumer and shoppers needs are and then go about building a strategy to satisfy these needs but in a profitable way
With the end result of improving the shoppers experience at the point of purchase which leads to increased sales as they say “a happy customer = a happy retailer”
In order to achieve this there will be many different areas that are managed by different departments within an organisation that are affected;
• Range, Price, Portfolio
• Distribution/Supply & availability
• Marketing, Communication, PR
• Implementation, Field sales, key accounts
They all have a role in ensuring a Cat Man strategy is implemented and understood!
Without ‘buy in’ from these areas it becomes very difficult to gain full benefit from the process, it may aslo lead to individuals undermining the process as they don’t fully support it, but with buy in the success is guaranteed because the focus remains on the customer.
With regard to “how can this be achieved without causing conflict?” the answer is simple; remain consumer/shopper focused, start with explaining that the purpose is to better understand our customers needs and we are building a strategy around those needs. I would find it hard to believe that any individual disagrees with that approach and if they do you need to understand which part they don’t agree with and why?
Ask them “when was the last time you walked in your customers shoes?” do you really understand what your customer sees? After all we have many competitors don’t we, why do you think we are better than our competitors?
By truly understanding your customers and how they see you! You will become closer to them, something companies like Apple do very well, focused on their customers and not their competitors activities.
With regard to other blogs you can follow me on linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/company/shelfstock as I have posted more there and plan to follow up with more
Hope that helps answer your questions and feel free to contact me
community manager says
J’aime beaucoup l’article . Très intéressant .
Merci pour les informations sont génial .
Gerry Byrne says
Thank you for your kind words, I’m glad you enjoyed it.
je vous remercie pour les aimables paroles, Je suis heureux que vous ayez apprécié