Category Management and Shopper Insights/Shopper Marketing have parted ways in many organizations.
Shopper Marketing reports to Marketing. Category Management reports to Sales.
According to new industry standards, this is not the best way to set your organization up for Shopper success.
At the Category Management Association’s conference a few weeks ago, much discussion centered around “CatMan 2.0™”. This updated approach to category management reflects some of the changes in data, technology, analytics, digital and the changing Shopper and applies them to all aspects of the category management process.
The biggest, and most positive, change I see in CatMan 2.0™ is the incorporation of Shopper Insights and Shopper Marketing into the category management discipline.
According to CatMan 2.0™:
“Roles that are inter-dependent should be in the same organization. Shopper insights, shopper marketing and category management are inter-dependent in creating the necessary output for the ultimate client (the retailer), the category platform.” (CatMan 2.0™)
That means Shopper Insights and Shopper Marketing should be within the Category Management team.
Furthermore, the Category Management Team within a manufacturer should report through their sales team:
“CatMan’s reporting locations should be driven by its purpose (e.g., improving brand/retailer category sales, profits and shopper satisfaction) and therefore should report to Sales since Sales is most closely associated with retailer activities.”
When you think about it,
this makes sense. Why?
Because the Retailer owns the Shopper. And they own the category management process that should focus on that Shopper.
Despite everything that we do to talk about the Shopper and the importance of them, including a significant investment in Shopper insights for many Manufacturers, we haven’t mastered how to activate Shopper insights.
As Manufacturers, we used to be able to directly reach the consumer in their homes and on their more linear path to purchase that ultimately pushed them to retail stores. But now, with digital media, mobile devices and ecommerce, it's more difficult to reach them before they get to the store.
Once they enter the store, Retailers have more influence on Shoppers that can affect their purchase decisions. In net, Manufacturers can't develop Shopper insights and marketing programs without the support and collaboration of their retail partners, including integrating components into the category management process.
And, Retailers need to look at the current ways they are practicing category management and do a better job incorporating the Shopper within their category management process.
What are some of the barriers to this new approach?
It’s not that we lack Shopper insights – in fact, many Manufacturers have incredible Shopper insights. One problem is that some organizations find their Shopper insights so valuable that they don’t want to share them with their Retailer partners.
This is ironic, because it’s the Retailer’s Shopper that they are gaining insights on, and without the support of the Retailer they will never truly maximize the potential behind their Shopper insights.
So, Manufacturers need to define who their true collaborative partners are that will work with them to develop category solutions that result in win-win-win for Retailer, Shopper and Manufacturer.
Often the Shopper is forgotten in most of our current category management work. When you scratch below the surface behind most category reviews and category plans, the Shopper is missing. This is particularly problematic when trying to understand the Shopper in the assessment phase of the catman process (including why they buy), and also at the tactical level.
We forget about the Shopper because our category management teams have become too tactical in their approaches, with little consideration (or understanding) for overall category strategy or the Shopper.
How to move to a more strategic, Shopper-focused approach in category management:
- Elevate category management as a strategic pillar in your organization and train your multi-functional teams on the foundations of category management. This includes teaching individuals and teams how to think about, and consider, the category and Shopper to determine how to leverage your Shopper insights in each step of the category management process.
- Develop best-in-class corporate processes and standards that incorporate category and Shopper perspectives in innovation and space management; best-in- class category reviews, and business reviews that link processes and approaches for your entire organization.
- Share your Shopper insights with your Retailer partners and work with them to determine how to best incorporate them into category definitions, segmentation, store clusters, category roles, category strategies and category analytics for Shopper satisfaction. Remember that as a Retailer or Manufacturer, you need to strategically select who you choose as collaborative business partners.
- Challenge yourself at your desk and in your role. Next time you go to do that category review, assortment analysis or planogram project, think about some simple ways to incorporate Shopper into your plans.
Shopper Insights and Shopper Marketing belong as part of the category management process.
This doesn't mean that folks without a marketing background should be doing some of the Shopper Marketing work – there are different skills required for this role that will be kept separate from the category management work. These two teams need to work together for an aligned Shopper approach that gets to the root of the category by way of the category management process.