Category management plan example: Intro to Jones Grocery
In support of the launch of our Category Management Solution, we begin the new content series, "Beyond the Basket." In this series, we'll discuss ways to innovate in category management through the example of fictitious grocery store Jones Grocery. We'll document, in detail, the influence that attribute-driven category management can have on the CatMan 2.0 process.
Over the coming weeks, we will work through a category management plan for Jones Grocery for the ice cream category, where Jones is underperforming compared to the rest of the market. We will follow the 8-stage process of CatMan 2.0(tm), as detailed in the picture below, over several weeks with at least one post, and often several posts, per stage.
The 8 Stages of CatMan 2.0
The series will follow the 8 stages of CatMan 2.0 with links added below to each section. We'll aim to document and release each stage of the process together.
- Internal alignment: Internal agreement on objectives and strategies.
- Category definition: What products are included and what are the subcategories?
- Category role: How important is the category to the consumers? To the retailer?
- Category assessment WHAT: Who buys the category and what do they buy (assessment what)?
- Category assessment WHY: Who buys the category and why do they buy (assessment why)?
- Category scorecard: What are the goals and objectives? How will we measure success?
- Category Strategy: How are we going to achieve our objectives?
- Category Tactics: What are the elements of the plan for each sub category or segment?
- Plan Implementation: Who does what and when?
At the core we believe that we are entering an attribute-driven market which is fundamentally going to change the way the market operates. In a recent study, The Transparency Imperative 2018, Label Insight in collaboration with FMI, found that 93% of consumers continue to say it’s important for brands and manufacturers to provide detailed information about what is in food and how it’s made. But there has been a dramatic increase (74 percent in 2018 compared to 39 percent in 2016) in the number of shoppers who say they would switch from the brand they usually buy to another brand that provides more in-depth product information, beyond what is on the physical label.
Despite many consumers saying that they are generally informed after reading labels, and more consumers than ever taking the time to read label information, about two-thirds of shoppers sometimes or always find themselves confused.
Aside from having clear ingredients and nutrients, roughly a third of consumers also value other indicators, including allergen information, details on how products are produced, and information on how ingredients are sourced. In fact, the great majority of shoppers want more information than appears on product packages. Many feel they know where to look for this additional information, such as web sites or apps, with over three quarters of shoppers reporting that they are very or somewhat likely to access more information about a product on their smartphone or other device.
In this new world, the way shoppers make decisions about products is changing. Increasingly, the information around a product is key to helping shoppers discover and make buying decisions about products. Attributes are now even changing the way we think about categories. Take for instance the dairy category and in particular milk, which has been under attack from many angles recently, but most disruptively by non-dairy milk alternatives such as almond milk, soy milk and the like. From a category management perspective, the dairy category is being considerably disrupted and the consumer decision trees are being turned upside down and inside out.
Recognizing this and counting for it in the category management planning process can stem the risk associated with an attribute-driven market, as well as help you to position for growth and opportunity.
Attribute-Driven Category Management Plan
Essentially, an attribute-driven category management plan is based on the CatMan 2.0 process, but with attribute data analysis layered over the top where relevant. A strong element of the CatMan 2.0 process was the layering in of shopper insights across stages 2 to 5 and also modern shopper marketing tactics and strategies across stages 6 and 7.
In an attribute-driven market, it's critical when performing shopper insights to understand how much of shoppers' decisions are being driven by specific attributes, such as "Gluten Free", or "Sustainably farmed" for instance. This can further help in understanding the why behind the buy, and add context to how you think about interpreting the data that is surfaced in the research process.
Lastly, when thinking through category management plan tactics, an attribute approach can provide more options for how one thinks about executing toward goals. As we will explore in the Jones Grocery example, there are increased opportunities with shelf tag icons, omnichannel H&W (Health & Wellness) iconization, as well as a new way to think about destination aisles.
Let the series begin
The first stage of the process is "Internal Alignment." In the first post of the Jones Grocery category management plan, we'll be setting the scene and learning about the very real challenges facing the ice cream category.
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