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The 7 musts of true category management

Category management is the great equalizer between small businesses and the most sophisticated CPG companies. Is your natural store using it to the fullest?

There is a huge difference between natural and mainstream when it comes to category management. I use the term "true" category management to differentiate the difference.  True category management is an essential process that, when done properly, can determine your level of success in the marketplace. 

Unfortunately, many natural and organic companies either overlook or say they can't afford to invest in it.

Here's why you should make the investment in your natural store: Category management provides strategies to better connect with consumers, develop brands, manage trade spending, optimize product placement and grow sales. Combining business intelligence, logistics data, syndicated and POS data and consumer data, true category management maximizes business results.

Category management truly is the glue that unites the different business functions.  It helps retailers identify opportunities for sustainable growth, increased sales and increased foot traffic. When done correctly, it grows brands.

Are you leveraging category management to the fullest or not at all? Here are the key aspects for success:

1. Analytics

Analytics, both basic and advanced, are at the heart of category management. As a road map to achieving your goals, they encompass all aspects of trade management, business planning, assortment analysis and consumer awareness. When applied correctly, they provide invaluable business insights and actionable recommendations.

2. Trade Marketing Support

Trade marketing encompasses all aspects of promotion, pricing, product placement, assortment, merchandising and brand development. It includes analysis of historical events as well as projections for future sales trends.  

3. Consumer Insights

Consumer insights include all consumer-related information including consumer buying and shopping habits. From reducing long checkout lines to providing the best selection of merchandise at the best possible price, the ultimate goal is to improve customer satisfaction.

4. Database Management

Database management, also known as business intelligence, encompasses several different data sources such as internal and external data sources, syndicated data, retailer point-of-sale data, consumer data and marketing data. Talented category managers can help you bring together all the different data sources in a useful way. This will maximize efficiencies within the organization while building a strong sales story to help you win at shelf.

5. Shelf Management

Shelf management includes product placement and merchandising on retailer shelves. Specifically it helps the retailer maximize sales per linear foot, drive foot traffic to stores, increase customer shopping basket size and have a competitive advantage in their marketplace.

6. Category Reviews

Category reviews serve as a review of category performance. They provide the framework for retailers and manufacturers to work together in setting goals, expectations and strategic plans for future category growth.  Scorecards can be used to help obtain and measure category growth objectives.  

7. Retail Sales Support

Category managers can and should support sales at retail, such as by providing fact-based selling to support traditional sales efforts. Category management should offer a somewhat unbiased objective with the purpose of increasing a retailer's sales. 

How do you plan to use these strategies to grow your natural brand?  

Daniel Lohman is the owner of Category Management Solutions (CMS) which provides innovative strategic solutions for natural and organic CPG companies interested in gaining a significant competitive advantage.
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