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Making Category Development faster

In a white paper, to be published later this year by Big River Solutions, we interviewed a number of CPG Category leaders across a wide range of FMCG manufacturers and asked them to describe their view of the Category world. The results have given us a fascinating insight into best practice, operational pinch points and the future of the discipline. You can find out more, later in the year.

But for now, I want to focus on one common thread acknowledged by all interviewees. Without exception, global and local food manufacturers identified the need for world class technology solutions to speed up the Category Development process and move the results from good to great.

However, caveats were mentioned:

  1. The output had to address the need to personalise the shopper experience and not assume one size fits all.
  2. The process had to redefine the shopper experience
  3. The solution had to support the shoppers decision tree.

Designed in the early 90’s the traditional Category Management 8 step process is in need of an over-haul. There aren’t many products or solutions designed in the 1990’s that have not been updated in the intervening years. With the launch of CatMan 2™ the process has been overhauled with the removal of three of the original steps. This step reduction has allowed the overall timeframe to be reduced by as much as 30%. However we believe more can be done to consolidate operational personnel and process achieving a further cost reduction by as much as much as 20%.

Using the CatMan 2 model as the basis for our findings we calculate that savings in process time can be made in the following areas:

  • Organisational Design and Development,
  • Assortment Pricing, Promotion, Shelf Merchandising, Shopper Marketing
  • Deployment, Supply Chain.

By introducing agile technology solutions, and when executed effectively, clients can expect a 25% + time frame gain. This has obvious positive impacts on the project ROI model whilst stimulating category practice over the long term.

But here is the note of caution: Whilst CatMan 2 simplifies the process it takes a number of assumptive steps which may not stand up to the rigour of current hostile trading conditions. Hence the need to introduce experienced shopper and category practitioners into the mix, who have the intuition to balance the results of big data and the redefined process, with shopper engagement know how.

Right now all we can say is that tactical shopper marketing is not the ‘silver bullet’ it once was.

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