Advance Your Category Management Approach. Don’t Get Left Behind!

Posted by Sue Nicholls, CPSA Founder & President CMKG | Nov 16, 2016 7:29:03 AM

Category Management has become more sophisticated. It’s now CatMan 2.0™ — Are you adapting to more advanced approaches? Are you keeping up with competitors? the industry?

Category management has been evolving and changing since its launch in the late 1980s. The changing Shopper, blurring channels, omni-channel, the Internet & digital media and more advanced data & technology are the key drivers that have continued to change category management.

It’s not that all of these changes are necessarily NEW, but all of these changes have all recently been captured in one place — in a new advanced approach which is creating buzz, questions, and uncertainty.

In this blog, I’ll cover:

  • Why CatMan 2.0™ is important (and more importantly, why you should care),
  • Where some of the biggest changes are, and
  • Next steps to help you plan your 2017.

So what is CatMan 2.0™?

It’s a 325-page whitepaper (broken into different components) developed in a joint-industry project led by the Category Management Association (CMA) to reflect changes in category management over the past 25+ years.

Where can I get it?

The whitepaper is available through a CMA membership and/or for a la carte purchase without membership. But first, a sidenote:

I, as the owner and president of a category management training company, find it important to clarify why I’m so interested in CatMan 2.0™.

I have no affiliation with the CMA (beyond a great working relationship as the accreditation body for our training), nor do we financially benefit in any way from the sale of the whitepaper.

It’s no secret that my team and I team have boundless passion for category management, and we have the obligation to our clients, students and the industry to help determine “what’s next” as it relates to the next level of mastering category management skills based on a changing and evolving industry. 

CatMan 2.0™ provides a good foundation for that.

What’s the 30,000-foot summary?

Keep learning and evolving in YOUR approach.   

No matter your size, I’m hoping to give you some inspiration in the coming weeks (and throughout 2017) on ways to make yourself knowledgeable and current in the areas most relevant to your business. Things may or may not need to change for you, but you need to be aware of the issues at hand in this advanced approach.

Why Advance Your Category Management Approach?

Our work has to reflect the changes in the industry – particularly as it relates to the changing Shopper, Data and Technology, and thus the changing approaches in future category management. For example:

  • How will automation of assortment, shelving and even consumer decision trees for retailers affect the catman work done by manufacturers?
  • What are ways that manufacturers can add value to retailers in this new space? (hint: it’s all about the Shopper)
  • Why do manufacturers and retailers need to create an aligned approach to category management across their organization – beyond their category management teams? 
  • How do Shopper insights and Shopper marketing get integrated into the category management process? 
  • What’s the best way to analyze the category and the corresponding tactics? 
  • How and why do solution providers (data, technology, consulting) need to be involved in this new and more sophisticated approach to category management?

This is only the beginning.

These are only some of the questions that we need to address to help get the ideas flowing and the conversation going to address some of these questions at a more advanced level. In short, this new approach isn’t for beginners. Solid category management foundations must be in place before adding this level of sophistication and complexity.

Things will continue to change.

This more advanced approach will challenge you to adapt your approach based on advances in Shopper understanding, Shopper insights, advanced data & technology, digital media & the Internet, and many other subsequent changes.

Reflecting on, discussing and questioning these changes will give each of us an opportunity to consider how we currently do our work, and identify where the biggest opportunities for change are based on our unique organization.

Don’t fail to plan for the future.

The recommendations, changes, and process will help us stay relevant, making us think about the Shopper and category in everything that we do, allowing us to look at the bigger picture and identify ways that we can improve, helping us to proactively plan for the future, and encouraging us to strategically think about whether or not we’re making the right decisions or recommendations for the business.

In net, look at 2017 as a time to ramp up your team’s category management skills and understanding to reflect changes that have happened in the industry, including how they affect you, which parts are most relevant for you and your organization, where your biggest knowledge gaps are, and how you can continue to evolve and stay relevant in this rapidly changing industry.

Sounds like something that we could all benefit from, but many are still uncertain as to exactly how.

Ready to Make Your Plan? Level Up? Stay Relevant? 

Here are some resources that we’ve developed both recently and prior to the release of the whitepaper, CatMan 2.0™ to help you understand the state of the industry as it has changed.

  1. Shopper Insights and Shopper Marketing ARE part of Category Management Blog
  2. What’s Your Internal & External collaboration status (Siloed? Multi-Functional?  Collaborative?) Blog
  3. Future of Category Management (Part 1) podcast
  4. Future of Category Management (Part 2) Podcast

In next week’s blog, I’ll share with you some of the most important considerations stemming from CatMan 2.0, a means to identify your biggest areas of opportunity, as well as some innovative ways for you to educate yourself on advanced category management approaches in 2017.

Do you have access the CMA’s whitepaper? 

If you’re not sure if your company has access to it, check out this corporate membership page from the CMA.  



Topics: Category Management (CatMan), CatMan 2.0 Update

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.