You CAN Do Category Management on Limited Data

Posted by Sue Nicholls, CPSA Founder & President CMKG | May 4, 2015 10:17:00 AM

Category Management on Limited Data

How do you use category management analytics when you have limited data?

To complete analytics, you obviously need data. In fact, it’s one of the key requirements in category management and to strategically understand and measure your business. Despite all of the new data sources available in today’s world, many of us still find ourselves in “low data” scenarios – whether it’s in an entire industry, a region or a category. 

Are you in a limited data environment but want to learn how to be more strategic in your approach?

Here are some great resources to help you do category management on limited data:

  • Category Management Continuum:  A complimentary download that walks you through the different levels of category management you can practice in a limited data environment
  • Free Resource on “How to Address Data Gaps in a Limited Data Environment"


For some of you, you may have limited data in one specific source, for example, no market data, no consumer/shopper data or no tactical data (pricing, promotion, shelving, assortment).

3 Common Reasons for Category Management on Limited Data:

  1. Your region or industry has limited data. Some regions of the world have access to less reliable data sources. At the same time, they are getting increased demands from more sophisticated Retailers like Walmart who have expanded into their region. There are also many industries where not all of the data sources are available but many of the principles and analytics associated with category management are very relevant to them.
  2. You have a limited budget (...who doesn’t?). Data is expensive, data budgets are being squeezed and data is getting more complex and more expensive. There are also more data choices available (particularly focused on Shopper), and unfortunately it’s usually a matter of figuring out what we can cut that will hurt us the least.
  3. You have specific category data gaps. Coverage may be low or non-existent in some categories and channels. Also, there are perishable, general merchandise and other categories that may not be available through traditional data sources, or where the data is limited.

So these may be some areas that your data gaps are in – and there are many other scenarios that are unique to your industry, region, company and categories. The good news is that limited data doesn’t mean you can’t do category management – it just means that you have to get more creative and rely more on ad-hoc research (like consumer focus groups and insight studies), audit data (like shelf space and # of flyers) and even supplier shipment data (for market information). 

Your outputs from using limited data sources will continue to be fact-based and relevant, but not at the same level of sophistication as companies who have access to a full suite of data. The only other requirement is to have the proper foundational category management training, so you can apply the principles, strategies and analytics to the data that you do have access to.




Link to Purchase “Category Management on Limited Data” Category Management Training Course

$125 USD

30-day Access



Reference Guide

Knowledge Checks

Course Test

Topics: Category Management (CatMan), Data Work

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.