Traditional category management is now an old concept in today’s very competitive market. Retailers need a new solution to enable the level of differentiation necessary to attract new shoppers and indeed keep their existing shoppers with an ever-growing number of competitors entering the market while ensuring they continue to meet the ever changing demands of today’s consumers. Retailers need to build solid category strategies, stock compelling assortments, have efficient and productive planograms, and correctly price and promote to the individual markets. Suppliers need to better understand not only their target consumers but also retailers individual differences and customer types as different opportunities will present themselves.
Ask yourself the following questions….
1. Are we truly customer centric? (walk in your customer’s shoes)
Retailers are far less customer centric than they claim to be and not realising that the customer holds all the cards in today’s modern retailer-customer relationship can be the downfall of many. Both retailers and suppliers need to be super attentive to their customers expectations and everyone in the organisation needs to be totally focused on the consumer and their wants and needs. Retailers need to walk in the shoes of their customers and ask themselves what the experience is like? Suppliers need to walk in the shoes of their retailers.
2. Are we truly integrated? (is the process staying true to its goal?)
Some large organisations have so many levels and processes that this stifles the category management process or dilutes it to the extent reducing its effectiveness. There are also many hand offs to other levels within the organisation to implement the changes which may lead to influencing its outcome. In order to be truly effective you must maintain the integrity of the process and reduce any possible influences that may change its outcome by ensuring the same people who create the strategy stay with the process to the end.
3. Is the category strategy truly strategic?
Many category strategies today are not linked back to consumer insights. A strong category strategy will include unique insights or opportunities directed from different data sources or research highlighting key opportunities to capitalise on. The process should then be able to develop a game plan that defines all the steps needed including, required investments, expected financial benefit, manpower and communication methods.
4. What’s your data telling you?
There is so much data available today many retailers don’t use it to its fullest or even understand what its saying? To get the most out of data you must first ask yourself a question and then use the data to help answer this question. For example why are we losing share to another competitor? First start by assessing how categories are performing and try to find out which are underperforming and why? is it down to price, promotion or range? At least this way you can direct your attentions to fixing a potential problem that may also lead to highlighting new insights into your competitors activity.
5. What have we learned, what are the actionable insights
It is often a challenge to develop actionable insights from a category management process and many are often heavily influenced by suppliers as they provide much of the market data. In order to be truly effective the insights must be retailer and consumer centric focusing on the retailers own experience and knowledge of their own customers and behaviours.
6. Localised to meet the local need
Retailers are becoming increasingly aware that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work anymore. This will lead to changes in assortment, space planning, adjacencies, fixtures and price. But moving from a national approach to an individual store approach will require new tools and systems to help automate the process but will also require significant changes to existing systems and a new way of thinking.
7. Develop a clear roadmap and measure it!
Introducing changes wont be easy but if its planned out with a clear roadmap and vision it can lead to significant rewards, a more customer centric approach will yield new insights and ensure customer loyalty while adding long term sustainable growth. As it often said “failure to measure is failure to succeed”
Category Management has indeed evolved especially when its combined with proper analysis and shopper data, it’s importance has proven vital for both retailers and suppliers to truly understand shopper behaviour in this ever evolving world of retail!
If your interested in starting a new category management process and want to know more or need help in the space management, data analysis or implementation phases please get in touch as we have experienced category managers ready to help. Contact us, or send an email for more information.