5 Ways to Maximize ROI on Category Assessments

Posted by Sue Nicholls, CPSA Founder & President CMKG | Nov 10, 2017 7:27:00 AM

We spend a lot of time analyzing our business, but we need to ask whether we are looking at the entire picture or just scratching the surface. 

Are you looking for the big opportunities? Developing next year’s category plan? Identifying weaknesses when business is soft? Determining the next big innovation? Evaluating the post results from an initiative? Or analyzing a specific tactic?

Identifying the question will help you achieve your goals.

At the same time, our data and tools continue to become more complex, and we have to ask:

How am I leading this organization to address this highly complex, analytic approach?

Inaction, or leaving it up to your different teams to figure things out, most often results in misalignment, inefficiencies, limited perspectives and ultimately, limited results. 
Today's blog gives suggestions on ways to move to more advanced analytics by providing more structure to your approach.

Use these 5 tips to improve how your organization does category assessment.

If you find your team or organization swimming in an abyss of data and tools, help is here. Based on CatMan 2.0, here are 5 ways to improve your analytic approach that will increase alignment, strengthen data & technology ROI, promote Shopper-focus and ultimately better business results. 

use category assessment in your organization

Increase the Value of Category Assessments throughout your organization.

... to get bigger category and Shopper perspectives, develop better, fact-based solutions and identify bigger opportunities ... Category assessments should be broadly used in organizations: for category reviews, business reviews, tactical work, and even brand health assessments.   

  • For Suppliers, if you tend to look at your Brand results in absence of total category insights, and are striving to find ways to sell in more stuff behind your brand vs competition, you’re missing a bigger category picture that will help you to be more proactive and make better, Shopper-focused solutions for your Brand and for the Category. This also applies to Store Brands.
  • If you are completing tactical work (like an assortment analysis or planogram development), you should complete a category review FIRST to understand overall business, trends, Shopper – so that you can make strategic, Shopper-focused recommendations based on category insights. Without this perspective, you’re just doing tactical work.

use category assessment in your organization

Add Shopper Insights

... incorporate new Shopper data sources and perspectives throughout category assessments for better, Shopper-focused opportunity identification.

DON’T FORGET THE SHOPPER in all category management work, but specifically you need to expand beyond a few slides about their demographics and a few purchase behavior metrics.

Injecting new Shopper perspectives and trends into your assessments will open up new opportunities that otherwise would not be available — 

  • Train your organization on Shopper data and Shopper insights, including where to access and how to use.
  • Give broad access to Shopper insights data via an internal Insights Library.
  • Develop standards & best practices in category management that incorporate Shopper data and insights in all key areas.

use category assessment in your organization

Provide easy access to data — ultimately through data integration.

increases data usage and data accuracy more efficiently and effectively …

Are you spending 80% of your time ANALYZING or GATHERING?

It’s incredible how difficult it is for some CatMan professionals to access the data that they need in order to make decisions on their day-to-day business (assortment, pricing, promotion, space).

Sometimes they need to even go to completely different systems to access pieces of the story that they then need to put together for insights. Sometimes this work is done haphazardly or without the full story because of the time required to get to the insights.

The opportunity is to move to easier to access, integrated databases for flexible, fast and expandable access as your data evolves.

Even if you don’t have complete data integration in mind, you should determine ways to give your team easier / better access to key data sources to encourage fact-based decision making. Then remember to teach the skills that will help them make better, fact-based decisions.

use category assessment in your organization

Define a consistent Analytic Pathway

... to create a common best-in-class approach to analysis that maximizes the use of all data available ...

We have more granular data and new data sources available, with new tools to go along with each new data source.

There are more data and tools available than ever before and while we may train on each data source / tool individually, we lack:
  1. bigger picture methodology on how and where each of the pieces fit into the analytic approach; and
  2. critical thinking framework to teach folks how to navigate across a more complex pathway.
CMKG's analytic pathway
Our model of the Analytic Pathways places the roots in strategic foundations that yield analytics.

Provide your organization with a map or analytic pathway of your data sources and tools and you will lead your organization in:

  • development of insights, opportunity identification,
  • stories and questions along the analytic path,
  • awareness and usage of the data and tools you are investing in, and
  • use of Shopper Perspective and Shopper Insights.

use category assessment in your organization

Give purpose to your Analysis

... to identify what you are trying to accomplish in your category assessment / category review  ...

I was recently conducting a live training session for a sales team at a national meeting and we were talking about the importance of having a purpose.

Many of them realized they don’t really have a specific purpose when they develop their business reviews for retailers, beyond presenting the results from the past quarter or year. 

Here are some examples: 

  • To put the best priority goals in place for the business for the upcoming month / quarter / time period;
  • To analyze the business for future planning and forecasting both internally and with external clients;
  • To identify the biggest opportunities for the business and identify the action plan;
  • To develop a fact-based category plan or business plan for the upcoming year.

If you are tasked with developing a category assessment, always ask what the purpose of the assessment is. The purpose will allow you to get to the right insights more quickly. 

And if you’re not familiar with the customer or recipient of the analysis, do some research to keep their best interests in mind. Without this perspective, you can spend too much time doing work that may be meaningless to your audience.

improve organizational analytics with CatMan 2.0 training

So how can you Begin?

To improve the approach to data analysis and analytical skills in your organization, you must understand the bigger picture, including the changes that have occurred within category management (CatMan 2.0). 

Take the first step by understanding how category management has changed by requesting a link to our category management training webinar, ’CatMan 2.0 Introduction: How Things Have Changed'.

Request Your Intro Webinar Now —




Topics: Retailer Training, Manufacturer / Supplier Training, Executive Training

Written by Sue Nicholls, CPSA Founder & President CMKG

Category Management is my passion. Since beginning with P&G in the late 1980s, I have dedicated my work life to building and sharing this passion with others through active involvement in the industry, including long-term business relationships with large Retailer and CPG executives, development and influence on Category Management Association certification standards, curriculum, and conference education, thought leadership publishing and presentations at CSP News’ Convenience University, CMA’s Annual Conference and LinkedIn, and as a member of DePaul University’s Center for Sales Leadership Advisory Board, and Western Michigan University’s Food Marketing Advisory Board. Beginning in 2019, our catalogue of accredited training that my team and I have developed is part of the Category Management Association’s strategic education initiative for all member organizations. Always anticipating where the industry is moving and the skills needed to compete and stay relevant, I’ve helped to bridge the gap between data and insights pioneering the way we use storytelling and data visualization to better understand analytics and make effective decisions for the future. Using my years of experience, I coach clients of all experience levels in the Retail, Manufacturer, and Solution Provider industries to help them propel forward achieving both their learning and career goals whether in eCommerce, sales, or marketing and beyond. My specialty lies in leadership and engagement, networking and consulting with individuals and large companies from around the world to better improve and develop our curriculum and accredited training programs, like our leading-edge Master’s Training, utilized by CatMan organizations for strategic education. Through this blog and other channels, I share my years of expertise with our industry and believe that an open and ongoing conversation can improve any team’s capacity to implement business strategies that achieve their strategic priorities.