Sue Nicholls, Founder & President CMKG

Training and learning are my passions. I have felt privileged to have the opportunity to teach others since early on in my my career at P&G in the '80s (when category management was just beginning in North America). 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 industry standards, curriculum, and conference education, thought leadership publishing and presentations at numerous industry conferences, and as a member on several university advisory boards. I am also an Adjunct Professor teaching consumer behavior in a Marketing Program.

I have developed over 150 hours of online curriculum, developed and facilitated hundreds of instructor-led training sessions, and had the privilege of working with retailers, suppliers and solution providers around the globe alongside an evolving industry. The challenge is to anticipate what's next and find ways to teach our students the skills required to compete and stay relevant.

Learning is a journey for everyone - individuals, teams, organizations, and yes, even training companies. You can't put training in a can, automate it and call it a day - it needs to evolve, be nourished, and continually improve. 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

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 fact-based presentations 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 Category Management 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

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

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 category management 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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What’s YOUR training plan this year?

If you’ve made cuts to next year’s training budget or plan to, there’s still time to avoid: Productivity losses, Missed opportunities, and Strategic misfires … All for a fraction of the cost of Data, Technology, and Shopper Insights. Here’s how …
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Navigating Your Category Management Priorities is Easier Than You Might Think

Our industry is changing. Has your organization responded? Are you stuck in a holding pattern or waiting for a signal? This blog will help you to get started in leading the journey for your organization.
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Category Strategy and Scorecards

The direction you need to achieve your goals. You’ve completed a category review or category assessment, ultimately identifying your biggest areas of opportunity to help you achieve your target goals and objectives in the category. Now what?
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