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Rebalancing Category Management and Shopper Marketing

Part 1 – Category Development the blue box

In the first article in our series, we consider the blue sector, which is Category Development.

To quote Henry Ford – “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

This is a quote I love and for me highlights the output from category management.

To quote our website – “Whilst others settle for Category Management, at Big River Solutions we drive for Category Development.

Our belief is that Category Development delivers more, and has a greater effect than just taking the purely historical view produced by Category Management. We acknowledge that a review of the past has a part to play in creating a level of retrospective understanding. However, predicting and anticipating the trends that are approaching allow us to help you ensure that your category retains its relevance. Aligning expectation to market conditions, which are shaped by the customer, shopper, consumer and the environment, allows clients to identify new opportunities, including NPD, brand extension opportunities, and shopper marketing.”

The problem with this is that it requires a business to take a long term view and for all departments to be signed up to it, it is not only the responsibility of the category team. It can also take a long time to gain some of the benefits (though technology and appropriate processes can speed this up), and this can be seen as a deterrent.

The cost of data and an organisations capability at mining it to provide real insights, can challenge some companies, but this shouldn’t be a barrier, you don’t have to buy all the data that is available, you can undertake category development, whoever you are. It is not just for the big companies, smaller companies can play a valuable role too.

At the same time Shopper Marketing has become a focus area for businesses, understandably trying to maximise the returns from shopper activation, but this too has been put under pressure as the need to see volume today has led to less ‘shopper behaviour changing activity’ and more ‘selling lots of volume activity’.

Recruiting good quality category managers is hard, you only have to look at how many jobs there are on LinkedIn and speaking to recruiters, there is just not enough talent in this area, as employees have succumbed to applying for ‘sexy’ shopper marketing roles, rather than category manager roles.

In these times of disruption and change in the marketplace, it is easy to become short termist, but this only causes problems later on, when we have no plans that deliver growth or deliver against evolving shopper and consumer needs. Lack of development of channel or customer plans lead to missed opportunities and concentration of dependency on specific customers.

As we say on our website predicting and anticipating trends from three points of view is required and having elevated insights and plans that deliver in the sweet spot in the centre is what delivers significant business and brand growth – that’s Category Development.

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