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.

Recent Posts

Grow YOU + YOUR Success

on May 30, 2019 7:32:17 AM By | Sue Nicholls, CPSA Founder & President CMKG | 0 Comments | Professional Development
Need help to succeed in Retail and CPG industries or in related fields? Helping people succeed is what I have the pleasure of doing each day through the thousands of individuals, students, and corporate learners we serve. I love to build skills and capabilities within organizations and among individuals to help them succeed.  Specifically, there are ongoing and new challenges and skill areas that we address through coaching and training services, including: Data to insights, including Shopper perspective Strategic thinking/Critical thinking/Business Acumen Fact-based presentation and storytelling Category Plan/Business Review Development Industry trends (e-commerce, shopper insights, omni-channel, AI, AR, IoT, etc.)
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Identify opportunities for growth and improvement

When you think about growth opportunities today, you might look at different measurements in your business based on what your overall strategy is. For example: If you measure penetration, your strategy may be to broaden the appeal of your category by increasing penetration of your loyal shoppers. If you measure market share, your strategy may be to grow your share of the market by “stealing” share from competition. If you measure loyalty, your strategy may be to increase your “share of wallet” (or loyalty) through effective in-store marketing programs. Etc., etc.
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9 Ways To Get Out of Your Rut and Innovate Your CatMan Approach (CMA+SIMA Conference Recap)

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Category Management Association’s annual conference in Las Vegas, where category management and shopper insights professionals gathered to learn, share and network. It was particularly exciting for us at CMKG, because the CMA announced our new partnership at the conference. This venture will allow us to get our training into even more brilliant minds around the world. I facilitated 9 live training sessions over the course of the 3-day conference, spanning topics like: Identifying Growth Opportunities in Your Business, Fact-Based Presentations and Storyboarding, Shopper Insights (co-developed and facilitated with Leslie Warsaw from SIMA), Category Management in On-Premise (2-part session), and many more!
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Break Down the Barriers That May be Limiting Your Growth Opportunities

As we kick off this new year, there may be obstacles in your category plans that can unknowingly limit your category results. These obstacles exist for many retailers because their category analytics and plan development haven’t kept pace with some of the biggest disruptors in the industry – including data, the changing shopper and the changing marketplace. If you don't change your strategies, processes and thinking to consider these changes, and don’t open up to new perspectives and ideas, your biggest growth opportunities can be completely overlooked. Below I’ve captured some examples of potential barriers that may be limiting your growth:
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3 Steps to Fact-Based Presentations

Our industry has changed the way that supplier sales teams go to market – or at least it should have changed! Gone are the days where sales teams rely solely on the relationship they’ve built with their retail customer — a major shift driven by: changing customers and economy, less opportunity to see our retailers face to face, the demand from retailers for value-based category solutions, and the advancements of retailers from both a data and technology perspective. Over the past few years, I have had the privilege of personally training many sales organizations on how to improve their approach and have documented three steps here, including barriers, analyzing data, and building the presentation.
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Identifying Growth Opportunities In Your Business

In a previous blog, I wrote about the importance of business acumen, which is the ability to assess an external market and make effective decisions. Or more simply put, it’s understanding how YOU and the work you do fit into the bigger picture.
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Refresh your CatMan Approach with Strategy

Working with many manufacturers and retailers is a great privilege for me, and one that gives me the unique perspective to help identify broader issues and opportunities for our industry.   A recent opportunity that was identified by Tom McDonald (Category Management Association) and I was to improve the connection of what we do in category management to the Shopper.    How do we better connect with Shoppers?  It starts by focusing on the big picture - including defining your department's purpose, and identifying your expected outputs AND inputs.  By delving deeper into your inputs - including data, tools, strategy, processes and people (based on where your biggest gaps are) - you can uncover ways to improve your overall approach. These improved inputs can change your game!  Are you ready?  Although it may be difficult to get out of your comfort zone and start to think about ways to make changes to improve the future for your department, there are three steps that can get you started.
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Improving Your Business Acumen in Category Management

on Feb 20, 2018 6:38:50 AM By | Sue Nicholls, CPSA Founder & President CMKG | 0 Comments | - Retailers - Manufacturers
Business acumen is the ability to assess an external market and make effective decisions. You need the skills and tools to think more like an owner of the business and to understand, set and execute business strategy while being able to measure the effectiveness of their business strategy through financial performance – skills that I think many of us can improve upon. Think about what you’re responsible for in your job. How often do you think about or consider the impact of your decisions on other areas in your company?  For example product supply? Or finance? Or your implementation team?
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Managing Change in Retail Category Management

on Nov 27, 2017 7:42:28 AM By | Sue Nicholls, CPSA Founder & President CMKG | 0 Comments | - Retailers - Executives
Retail has changed significantly over the past 20 years – new data, technology, tools, analytics, Shoppers, omni-channel … How much have you changed your internal approach to reflect these changes? I recently co-facilitated a “Retail Leaders’ Forum” for retail executives responsible for category management, with Tom McDonald of the Category Management Association. We talked about the importance for this audience to evaluate their current catman approach in 3 areas.
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5 Ways to Maximize ROI on Category Assessments

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.
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