Category Management Plan Example: Tactics and Implementation
The final phase of the the category management plan is creating the Tactical plan and implementation schedule. Following the last phase of outlining the strategy and the category scorecard based on the category assessment, it is critical to wrap up the CatMan 2.0 process by detailing the tactics by which the strategy is to be achieved, and to schedule the timeline.
Tactical Definition and Purpose
Category management involves 5 types of tactics, which are the 5 kinds of actions one may take to realize a strategic objective and build business. Those 5 tactics are:
- Assortment - change SKUs in the current array
- Pricing - change the price of an item or segment
- Merchandising - change how or where the items are presented to shoppers
- Promotion - change the type, size or frequency of incentives offered to shoppers
- Service - change the level or method of personal service to shoppers for certain categories (e.g. service deli)
Tactics are created to deliver strategies. Therefore, we have selected specific tactics to meet each strategy.
1) INCREASE MARKETING PRESSURE ON HEALTH-ORIENTED ITEM
- Assortment - Increase the percentage of health-oriented items by at least 2x
- Price - Review each H&W item to reflect learning about price inelasticity of many H&W items
- Merchandising - Expand the space for the category and increase the facings on the top 10% of SKUs (approximately 35 SKUs)
- Promotion - Promote ice cream every 2-week drive period throughout the year, rotating the major segments and brands every 10 weeks, often by simultaneously promoting non-competitive brands, price tiers, or health benefits
2) BUILD THE BUSINESS AMONG HEAVY USERS
- Assortment - Ensure that all items, brands, and segments preferred by heavy users are in the assortment.
- Price - Adapt especially competitive prices on the top 20 items bought by heavy users
- Merchandising - Give additional space to items bought by heavy users of the category to insure against O-O-S (out-of-stocks). Place the items preferred by heavy users at eye level or use as segment identifiers
- Promotion - Use AI to identify every heavy buying ice cream household in the trading area, including those who aren't Jones shoppers. Send current Jones shoppers digital coupons with a large volume, high-value coupon ($2 off 3 half gallons) once a quarter. Send current non-shoppers a similar offer every 6 weeks.
- Promotion - Schedule an in-ad offer on preferred heavy user items at least once per month.
3. DEVELOP ICE CREAM INTENSIVE “NEED STATES”
- Promotion - Create two “need-state” landing pages on the Jones website: one for the “birthday party” need state, the other for a “family celebration” need state
- Pricing - For the birthday party need state, group all items which a party giver might need at special prices. Always include ice cream with a discount coupon good for different ice cream choices. Give party planners the opportunity to request a coupon or voucher they may use in-store for any $20 worth of identified birthday party items.
- Promotion - For the family celebration defined as an anniversary, graduation, etc., include ice cream among celebration items. Offer coupons or vouchers good for discounts on the merchandise.
- Promotion - Request that celebrants sign up for a loyalty card and include a special inducement to do so.
- Promotion - Add the birthday information to the loyalty card file and send incentives annually at the appropriate date.
4. INCREASE THE OVERALL EFFICIENCY OF THE CATEGORY
- Assortment - Jones has over 400 SKUs many with market shares below 0.1. Remove at least 15% of the current SKUs focusing on small, duplicate, or declining SKUs. The space freed up for additional facings and inventory on the 60 fastest moving SKUs (those SKUs that represent => 50% of category volume).
- Price - Increase the price on all price-inelastic items following the findings of the pricing study regarding threshold pricing, pricing gaps versus competition.
- Merchandising - Fewer of Jones' customers are going down the ice cream aisle, suggesting that existing merchandising efforts in-store, online, and in circulars is not working well. Place permanent end aisle stand-up freezers at each end of the aisle. Feature H&W items, new items and heavy user-preferred items in these freezers. This tactic is proven to drive traffic down the aisle and increase total category volume.
- Promotion - Follow recommendations of the price/promotion study to adopt the most efficient promotional price points and messaging by market. Create a special “promo door” which carries extra quantities of fast-moving, high-volume items, thereby stopping promo driven O-O-S.
5. DRIVE GROWTH OF THE LACTOSE-FREE SEGMENT
- Assortment - double the number of lactose-free items in the assortment
- Price - create a margin structure for the segment at least 1.5% margin points higher than the category average
- Merchandising - Flag the segment prominently on freezer doors. Announce the section on the allergy landing page on the corporate website. Provide a flagged “lactose-free” look up site on Jones’ digital look up registry
- Promotion - attach promo flags on lactose-free milk cartons from suppliers also manufacturing lactose-free ice cream. Send coupons for lactose-free ice cream to purchasers of lactose-free milk products. Promote lactose-free ice cream at least 4 times during the year. Include lactose-free items in the need-state promotions.
The final stage of the category management plan is to organize all of the tactics in an executable schedule. Below is an example of how the tactics can be extricated from the guiding strategies and instead organized by the tactic type. This way, the plan more closely lines up with the functional groups that will be driving the implementation.
Category Management in an attribute-driven market
We embarked on this exploration of creating a category management plan example in an attribute-driven market with the aim of better understanding and documenting how considering a layer of high-order attribute data could be leveraged to produce a more effective category review. In this process, we have demonstrated that high-order attribute (HOA) data can be highly influential in a category review.
We have demonstrated that HOA data can provide more insight into what and why shoppers are behaving in a category and can help to provide a completely new source of data and insight in the Assessment phases of the process. We have also demonstrated that HOA data can be critical in helping category managers to better understand their own categories, providing actionable insight in the early category definition stages, and critically in the tactical and implementation stages.
At the end of the day, where HOA data provides more value in the category management process will depend on the category and on the category management team. However, it is clear that in an attribute-driven market, HOA data is a new fundamental tool in the CatMan 2.0 process.
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