Remembering the fundamentals of true category management

Remembering the fundamentals of true category management

Instead of thinking about sales, true category management is all about responding to and anticipating customers' core needs.

In my experience, most natural companies think of category management as people pulling canned top-line reports and keeping retailers shelves full. But "true" category management goes beyond that narrow definition.

True category management encompasses the entire spectrum of a product's development, considering everything from whether a product idea has merit to its usefulness to the end consumer. It encompasses the 4P’s we have all heard about - product, placement, pricing, and promotion - and includes a 5th P - people.

The authenticity and innovation that define the natural channel bubble up from a constant effort to meet and anticipate future consumer needs and wants. And yet while products exist to support consumer’s needs, meeting their wants can be about much more than simply focusing on their needs.  Remember the “pet rock?" 

In its most basic definition, true category management aims to align products with shoppers needs and wants. It strives to understand the potential consumer needs and wants and then helps you develop strategies around product innovation, merchandizing, pricing, promotion or distribution to help satisfy those needs and wants.

Perhaps the biggest challenge in any channel is that most retailers and manufacturers typically get caught up in “making the sale” as opposed to designing strategies around their core shoppers. Consider this, we all need to eat but how many retailers take the time to ask us what we're hungry for?  True category management works to anticipate the answers to those questions and then to make the foods that we’re hungry for convenient and available.

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