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How do Category Management, Shopper Marketing and Promotional Marketing fit together?

Marrying Category Management, Shopper Marketing and Promotional Marketing is the key to optimising brand and category success, argues David Edwards of Big River Solutions.

Let’s liken marketing to putting up a tent.

The job is easier when every person in the construction team knows what the end goal should look like if all individuals involved can tell the others what they are doing and everyone understands what each part of the kit is for.

This simple analogy provides another way of highlighting our need to harness an overall integrated approach, using Category Management, Shopper Marketing and Promotional Marketing. A marketing team is at its most effective when it adopts an overarching objective with all marketing/business functions aligned to that goal.

And when that overarching goal is an impartially-created Category Vision with, at its heart, a desire to ‘grow the pie’ rather than grow share, it is particularly effective.

Good Shopper Marketing incorporates an understanding of how shoppers behave in the retail environment. It considers shopper behaviour in different channels and different formats, purchasing for different consumption occasions. Through insight, it enlightens us about what will influence a shopper and so drives consumption through increased product purchase.

It means we can deliver promotions to shoppers when in shopping mode – delighting and engaging them and so converting into a purchase. Understanding the barriers and triggers at the point of purchase will further drive conversion.

I believe that the time has come for Category Management to evolve into what we term Category Development.

Where Category Management relies on historical data and research, Category Development includes a forward-looking view of trends (macro, consumer, shopper, channels) coupled with insights and intuition, so generating an understanding of what will be important in the future for the category and how the category can deliver against consumer and shopper needs.

Promotional Marketing sits within the category’s activation plan. The activation plan includes promotions, display, communication and, increasingly, digital. A promotional strategy will be more responsive and work much harder for a brand/category if created with the insight gained from Shopper Marketing and delivered in line with a growth opportunity for the category, identified in the Category Vision.

This outcome occurs when insight focuses on the promotional strategy, leading to a tailored solution that resonates with the shopper/ consumer. And this occurs when Category Development identifies growth opportunities and Shopper Marketing delivers against these identified opportunities, so unlocking future potential.

A marketing team should start by understanding the different objectives for a category.

These could include:
Shopper loyalty – the number one driver when a shopper selects a store is located. However, destination categories can prompt shoppers to travel further – for example, shoppers might walk past Tesco to gain access to Waitrose’s wine category;
Brand loyalty – for example, this will be low for kitchen roll but high for sanpro;
Basket incidence – for example, get a soft drinks brand into every trolley rather than every second trolley;
The weight of purchase – needs to be an open-ended purchase where if the shopper has more, more will be consumed – for example, crisps, soft drinks (not laundry products; as these will be stored, not more used);
Awareness and consideration – of consumption occasions – for example, for soft drinks: breakfast, lunchbox, long car journey, social event, etc.
From broad category objectives, a marketer can create activation plans by understanding which ‘mores’ will be delivered by which promotional strategies:
More consumers;
More usage occasions;
More product;
More shoppers;
More often (trips to the store);
More spend per trip (volume).
But you should never forget that it all starts with insight!

Shopper Marketing and Category Development need to be viewed as a living, breathing part of the overall marketing process. Both need to be incorporated on a long-term rather than a tactical basis in order to maximise what they will deliver in terms of long-term growth. This requires a review of how Shopper Marketing, Category Management/Development and the activation plan/promotional strategy has performed so that learnings can be incorporated into future activity.

And the benefits can be huge.

If a supplier’s commercial teams think and act in unison with one common purpose, one priority and one set of numbers, and if the same teams have a good understanding of the shopper/consumer, then a ‘perfect’ activation plan can be created and implemented that will delight the shopper/consumer as it will deliver above and beyond their expectations.

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