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Agile category management, category development and category vision

How do you grow an agile CPG business? Ever wondered if your organisation is a little too tactical with Shopper Marketing? Or needs a longer-term category vision? Do those marketing targets need a new business strategy? Do your structures and processes have to be more agile to allow you to grow?

You may already know the answers to these questions. Sometimes you look at the problem and the ‘fix’ is easy. Other days you look at the problem and decided “Let’s not do that today”, but every so often a problem comes along and you say “I’ve got to deal with this”.

Then what do you do? More importantly, what do you want to do?

Recreate, redesign or redevelop (the three R’s) or do nothing? Doing nothing could be right, until the day it’s not. Then you’re back to the three R’s.

At this point you should be asking yourself the following:

  1. Where am I trying to get to?
  2. How am I going to get there? and finally
  3. When I have arrived, what does success look like?

Below are various points in no particular order worthy of consideration before investing in a remodelling exercise.

Does the shopper like your brand? 

Does your product offer an emotional engagement? Ask yourself does the shopper to want to buy your product? What are you doing to create shopper desire?

Knowing the shopper journey allows brands to identify points of interruption. Developing the right solutions along the path to purchase requires careful collaboration between the brand owner and the customer.  Bear in mind that today’s consumers are migrating towards a more compelling and agile engagement plan.

What are you doing that’s new?

Creating a stronger brand presence combined with better utilisation of shopper and customer insights will create fresh thinking along the path to purchase.  This, in turn, creates growth strategies that will impact sales.

In recent years the CPG market has concentrated on tactical shopper marketing, which has resulted in dis-investment in strategic shopper marketing and category management. Now there is a need to change this and re-invest in category management, category development and strategic shopper marketing.

This will give a strategic framework on which to develop long-term and tactical plans. Those who focus on tangible outcomes, combined with pragmatism, will deliver growth.

Is there mutual value?

By developing mutual value for your customers through collaboration and business developing initiatives, categories can be optimised. By generating insights – reviewing consumption patterns and purchase behaviours, we believe that any CPG brand can drive for growth. By creating a value chain the brand can successfully engage with the shopper to convert and unblock the opportunities that exist.

Collaboration centres on creating mutual value to drive growth and profitability. The perceived wisdom is that category development has always taken too long to realise these two objectives. This is not always the case. By understanding shopper needs and providing solutions for shoppers along the path of the purchase, the category team can deliver a range of opportunities faster.

Are you thinking ‘one channel’?

Shoppers only see where they buy. It’s all one channel to the shopper. They don’t care whether you are online or are physical bricks and mortar.  The key is to create a consistent voice at all points of interruption for ‘one channel’ that delivers value and profitability. Creating drivers through rich insights combined with a compelling strategy and deeper collaboration will provide new growth.

The overall challenge for any brand is to focus on activities that clearly drive authentic and sustainable growth.  Remaining disruptive and agile remains the route to success today.

How to interpret ‘agile’

So how should you become ‘agile’? What does it mean? How good is it really? Shoppers today expect a fast response to their questions, their desires and decisions. Shoppers expect an authentic relationship between themselves and the brand. If you oversell or undersell, patronise, or ‘mansplain’, the relationship quickly falls apart. Today you need to be shopper-centric. You need to be able to anticipate what the shopper wants next and where they are buying now. If you cannot demonstrate a positive and proactive relationship between point of purchase and the brand, the opportunity for growth is reduced.

Harnessing the concept of agile, synthesising the best of what the clients already have is the essence of agility. Adding to this base knowledge, creative frameworks that encourage the use of rigorous insight and that discover opportunities delivers better business outcomes.


Success is about hard work and personal discipline. It’s also about recognising that today’s ‘hack’ is a simple shortcut and if you’re today’s disruptor, you’re simply exploiting a trend.

Staying ahead requires a clear understanding of the final desired outcome. Understanding the resources available and the gaps in the process allows the leadership team to move forward, knowing where the project gaps are.

Creating a proposition that is shopper-centric, as well as a story, that hooks the shopper into the brand’s authenticity and values will create shopper demand for the product. In addition, the team needs to develop people, practices, processes and tools that support the delivery of these activities.

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