Without strategy, organizations cannot be a leader in category management, which ultimately affects how well Shoppers are satisfied.
What can be more damaging is that some of the CatMan Foundations from which successful category management thrives, are completely lacking.
But it doesn’t have to be that way …
If either or both of the above apply to your organization, the worst thing that you can do is stay the course.
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.
Establish YOUR CatMan Purpose.
Start by identifying the purpose of your Category Management organization.
Your purpose includes the “contracts” you have with your internal and external customers and it is an important component for you to have well defined before you can effectively design your team and its corresponding output.
Here’s a general example of what might be a purpose for a retail organization.
“The purpose of the CatMan team is to increase shopper satisfaction in our categories through the development and execution of strategic category plans that increase sales & profits in our category(s) along with our vendor partners.”
Think about your current situation, and whether there is perfect clarity in the purpose for the category management group that you lead.
Once you’ve established your purpose, you will need share it with and get approval from your manager and senior management.
The purpose should be something that, once approved, is well understood and aligned to across your CatMan team, and communicated to the broader organization.
Identify YOUR CatMan Outputs
The next thing you need to do is identify the outputs expected from your category management team based on your overall purpose.
In other words,
What are you trying to accomplish?
Examples of CatMan Outputs may include:
For retailers …
The development of a category plan (and corresponding execution plan), based on the category definition & structure, roles, Shopper and category insights, scorecard, strategies, tactics and product supply considerations defined for the category. This plan will help the retailer achieve their goals for the category and guide
For manufacturers …
The development of an internal category plan (or brand plan, depending on the manufacturer) and strategy based on the same principles as the retailer. It’s also the outputs as required by the retailer to help them develop their category plan, based on their category management approach, by way of category captains, vendor advisors, analysts.
If category plans don’t exist or only exist in part for both retailers and manufacturers, the results will be limited. If manufacturers only focus on brand and not the broader category outputs, they’re not really doing category management.
Identify YOUR CatMan Inputs
The next question to consider is what are the inputs for a category management organization in order for them to do their work?
In other words,
What inputs are needed for your
CatMan team to create their
When I pose this question to CatMan leaders, many respond with “data”, “tools” and sometimes “people”. But if you only have these as your inputs, you’re going to limit your CatMan approach, and ultimately your outputs.
The other two components are “strategy” and “processes”. Without the CatMan strategy and processes for your organization you will lack efficiencies, alignment and a common approach to the business. Everyone does their own thing, business development teams and category teams have their own reports and methodologies, and the wheel is re-created for each team.
Interestingly, “internal alignment” is the new first step in the category management process, whose foundations stem from well-defined internal strategies and processes.
So the inputs can be categorized broadly as:
The opportunity for category management leaders (both retailers and manufacturers) to think about your scenario, what’s available to you, and identifying your gaps and opportunities for improvement.
If you’re interested in evaluating your CatMan opportunities as a category management leader, we’ve developed some great materials for you to access, as well as a Leader’s Forum webinar to help you get started.