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Category Management Today Is All About the Shopper

NATIONAL REPORT — The food and beverage retailing industry has seen dramatic developments over the past quarter-century, so it is only natural that the industry’s category management process undergoes an update to make it modern and relevant for today’s fast-paced times.

“Everything has changed, most importantly the shopper. They are more sophisticated, with much more information,” Gordon Wade, managing partner and director of best practices for the Category Management Association (CMA), declared during an exclusive webcast hosted last week by Progressive Grocer, a sister publication of Convenience Store News.

The May 31 webcast summarized the new process, data, analytics and success models that comprise CatMan 2.0, a new, modernized version of the highly successful CatMan 1.0 process.

Since the original CatMan 1.0 category management standards — groundbreaking for their time — were introduced, there has been an evolution in retailing, communication, technology and shopper insights. In fact, the original standards largely ignored shopper insights.

However, they are an integral part of CatMan 2.0, developed by a blue-ribbon industry committee of 25 thought-leading companies under the leadership of the Category Management Association.

“It’s not solely about creating a planogram or assortment,” Wade said of CatMan 2.0. “It’s about creating a comprehensive plan for a category.” CatMan 2.0 includes more data (which didn’t exist two decades ago), better analytics, shopper centricity and digital delivery.

The voice of the shopper “is what everybody needs to be working from,” said fellow webcast presenter Jimmy Brooks, head of sales information systems for McKee Foods Corp.

Brooks stressed the importance of internal alignment of goals and standards among a company’s stakeholders. Furthermore, he delineated the steps of how to drive alignment: a definite owner, a unifying process, a clear strategy, a focused plan, and shopper marketing.

Aside from shopper insights, another difference between CatMan 1.0 and CatMan 2.0 is that the new version covers the full spectrum of the consumer’s path to purchase: brick-and-mortar, online sales, brick-and-click, social commerce, brand sites, and mobile.

Brand marketers must consider all types of data and their applications: static data (such as proprietary research), dynamic data (e.g., point-of-sale), and tools that enable observations and insights, advised Craig Hodnett, principal at IRI, who also participated in the webcast.

Today, strategic use of data allows brand marketers to adjust their strategies in terms of seconds and minutes, rather than days and weeks, by leveraging these insights, Hodnett continued.

“In CatMan 1.0, we couldn’t get in people’s minds,” he said. “Today, it’s all about that.”

CatMan 2.0 constitutes reams of data, case studies, standards and best practices available to CMA members on the association’s website. In partnership with CMA, Progressive Grocer and Convenience Store News will explore the new platform in upcoming print issues and online events.

Click here for a replay of the webcast. 

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