Category management at Label Insight The first part of this year focused on validating the hypothesis that Label Insight high-order attributes (HOAs) could be useful for Category Management (CatMan) professionals. We attended the CMA Conference in February, where we talked to Category Managers, validating that there is a future in using HOAs for Category Management. Throughout the spring and early summer, we then set to complete a full category review using our HOAs and worked closely with Gordon Wade, industry veteran in Category Management. The end goal was to publish a white paper on “Innovating in Category Management,” demonstrating how HOAs are essential to the next generation of the practice.
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.
After completing the Assessment "what" and Assessment "why" phases of the CatMan 2.0 process, it can be tempting to jump straight into the tactics and implementation of all of the existing things you've learned. However, it is critical that category managers take their time at this stage, to document the Strategies and Scorecard that reflect the go-forward strategy for the category. The tactics and implementation of category management review findings can be far reaching and involve resources from across the company. Therefore, it is fundamental that the Category Strategy and Scorecard be completed as a quick resource to ensure alignment across implementation and over time. What should a Category Scorecard DO? Monitor progress to ensure that you’re going to accomplish the strategic objectives in the category plan Include regular reviews of the business that includes key performance indicators (KPIs) Measure how your organization is doing against pre-defined goals or targets What Category Scorecard should NOT DO? Your category scorecard is NOT the same as corporate monthly reports that measure overall business results. Below, we'll summarize the category review with an example Category Strategy & Scorecard for Jones Grocery's ice cream category.
Following the Assessment "what" phase of the CatMan 2.0 process is assessment "why." In the previous phase, we identified 5 findings that will go on to inform the Ice Cream category scorecard for Jones Grocery. The assessment "why" phase of the process is a recent addition to the CatMan 2.0 process, which captures the need to include the perceptual and attitudinal analysis to the category. In essence, the assessment "why" phase of the category management process should answer the question, "Why is the category bought?"
Assessment WHAT Perspectives Once the Category Role has been defined and the retailer and category management partners are aligned the next phase is the assessment phase. Generally, the assessment phase is broken in to the assessment "what" and assessment "why" phases. This stage is where the CatMan 2.0 process differs significantly from CatMan 1.0. In the latter, the assessment phase was largely limited to "shopper facts", a behavioral assessment of who, what, when, where, and how is the category bought? In CatMan 2.0, the assessment phase leans much more towards "shopper insights" and includes attitudinal & perceptional assessment - effectively answering the question "why" the category is bought.
Attribute-Driven Category Role In the last phase of the process we aimed to set the Category Definition and Segmentation. We deployed tools such as Markov Chain Analysis, and clustering to help us to better understand the products in the category as well as how customers make decisions about products. All of which lead to a surprisingly innovative looking attribute-driven Category Decision Tree which almost resembled a traditional decision tree – inverted. In this phase, we build off this last work to place the category in context of the wider store strategy. We now need to determine what role the ice cream category will play for Jones Grocery, and as a result, how we interpret and implement what we have learned so far will be driven by this wider context, and the associated resources and priority that will be given to the ice cream category. Most importantly, this phase is about understanding how important the ice cream category is to Jones Grocery and how important it is to their shoppers.
Attribute-Driven Category Definition After internal alignment has been reached (step 1 of the CatMan 2.0 process), covered in detail in this post here, it is time to define the category. This step was previously step one in the CatMan 1.0 process and can be considered a critical part of the process. It is in this stage where the category management team will take a look at organizing and defining the types of products that are to be considered in the category, and what sub categories of products it will include. Initially this sounds like a fairly standard step, but in fact, there are critical tools such as Markov Chain Analysis, Clustering and the Category Decision Tree (CDT), that are utilized that will have fundamental implications on the entire category management plan and in particular the category definition. It is therefore very important to evaluate these tools to understand how they may benefit from high-order attribute data and an attribute-driven approach.
Attribute-Driven Category Management Plan The aim of this attribute-driven category management plan example is to demonstrate the implications of an attribute-driven approach across the CatMan 2.0 process. As outlined in the introductory post of this series, we will work through the 8 stages of the CatMan 2.0 process and at each stage, we will highlight where Label Insight high-order attribute data can augment the process for better results. To ensure the credibility of this example, we collaborated with Mr. Gordon Wade, Director Emeritus of the CMA, whose infectious enthusiasm helped to make the compilation of this work a pleasure.
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.