CatMan for Manufacturers is essential to all — not just those who know about it.

Posted by Sue Nicholls, CPSA Founder & President CMKG | Mar 15, 2017 7:26:51 AM

Today, many Manufacturers are spending more dollars than ever before on data, technology and Shopper understanding. While the complexity of the data and technology increases, resources are being cut, requiring us to do more with less. 

Specifically, Manufacturers need to build solid strategies for their brands, create unique Shopper experiences, develop successful innovation and compelling assortments, planogram efficiently and effectively, and appropriately price and promote their products.

But many (or maybe most) don’t realize that these goals are all part of the category management approach and that CatMan is the pathway to becoming more efficient and effective.

Practicing CatMan presents a huge opportunity for Manufacturers in industries and geographies in the world that don’t officially practice category management AND for Manufacturers who tend to brush off the importance and value of category management when they see Retailers not utilizing.

But beware of change ahead.

As industries change and evolve, the performance gap between the CatMan and Non-CatMan practicing organizations will widen. 

Right now, successful category management for Manufacturers (and Retailers) encompasses a much broader set of capabilities than in the past—going far beyond just an 8-step Retailer process. Today’s CatMan for Manufacturers incorporates:

  • Category Role and Strategy,
  • Product Supply,
  • Financial Budgeting,
  • Assortment Planning,
  • Planogramming,
  • Price Optimization,
  • Brand Development and Innovation,
  • Promotion and Event Planning,
  • Fact-based Presentations, and
  • Joint Business Planning with Retailers.

Thinking about category management yet? Check out these 5 Category Management Approaches for Manufacturers or grab the ebook above for even more insight.

5 Category Management Approaches For Manufacturers

  1. Become Retailer-Centric: By considering the goals of your unique Retail Customers and their Shoppers, you will position yourself to create better solutions for both. Category definitions, roles & strategies, and even the category management process will help you to better understand retail. Even if your Retailers don’t practice CatMan, understanding retail concepts and processes will help you ask better, more strategic questions to create more productive discussions.
  2. Become Category Focused: By considering category, subcategory and brand perspectives, you will identify more and bigger opportunities for your business. Retailers can’t possibly analyze their entire business without Manufacturer partners, and those Manufacturers that offer the most compelling Shopper insights and fact-based business opportunities are more likely to win. 
  3. Improve Your Assortments and Innovation: Having 100% distribution targets on all new product launches is not a realistic objective — so why set yourself up for failure from the start? Learning how to analyze your internal brand assortments and total market category assortments, will position you to:
    1. Identify gaps and opportunities in your own brands as well as those of your competitors;
    2. Develop better assortment recommendations and solutions for your Retail customers with realistic distribution objectives; and
    3. Increase success of your new product launches.
  4. Improve Planogram Outputs: The goal of planograms should not be pretty pictures, yet so many organizations continue to develop shelf sets without any data inputs or strategic considerations. Planograms can be an incredible resource drain and should not be treated as a tactical necessity for your organization. Sometimes less is more, and by slowing down the planogram factory line and incorporating strategic considerations (like retail strategies and Shopper insights) and data (like unit sales and costs) into your planograms, you will become an expert on understanding the shelf, and add much more value to the conversations you have with Retailers.
  5. Bring Value to Retailers through Better Business and Category Reviews: Whether you are creating an internal or external review, you should start with a big picture perspective (vs starting it at a Retailer or brand perspective). By analyzing the business with a broadened perspective (like “category” or “market”), you see many more business opportunities, which add value to your own internal understanding of the business, as well as to your Retail customer’s business. Adding value to your Retail customers builds collaborative discussions that go beyond negotiating the best price for your products. 

In net, category management offers an incredible opportunity for Manufacturers who are looking for more strategic ways to improve return on investment in data and technology, increase and develop fact-based decision making and presentations, advance Shopper understanding, and ultimately, enhance business results.

So why practice CatMan as a Manufacturer?

To better understand the Shopper who ultimately buys what you have to offer through:

  1. Increased consideration for the Retail Customer’s Strategies and Shoppers,
  2. Broadened your perspective in data & insights analysis that goes beyond brand,
  3. More strategic, fact-based decisions related to innovation, planograms, pricing and promotion, and 
  4. Integrate Shopper Insights into all analysis work — remember, it is the Retailer’s Shopper. 

Get our ebook, “Is CatMan the missing piece of your business?”.

Learn how category management can help you be more strategic in meeting your goals.




Topics: - Manufacturers

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.