There are 3 types of suppliers when it comes to Category Management. Those that know, those that don’t know, and those that don’t care. Those that know can find it a frustrating ‘Powerpoint Treadmill’. Those that don’t know are blissfully ignorant, apart from the odd ‘turn’, like Granddad’s shrapnel wound in Only Foods and Horses. And those that don’t care have confidently adopted that position, stand by it, and have a well rehearsed speech about why they don’t care, though deep down they know it will come back to haunt them one day.

MBM-1day-course-logo Category Management is Dead isn’t it?         

Moving from the euphoric decade of the 90’s when the answer to everyone’s prayers was found in ‘Category Management, and such phrases as, ‘Friday afternoons is my Category Management time’. To the noughties when it became clear that large category projects on every category weren’t going to work and that slimmer versions were needed. To the Tens when suppliers began to choose whether understanding their shopper was going to be a competitive advantage.

Now ‘Category Management’ is what we all do each day. Try to think like a shopper, manage the category as a whole, and use data to support our recommendations. Yet nothing still says it like ‘Category Management’. Unless ‘Category Leadership’ is a term that you have embraced?

Suppliers Embracing Category Management Have an Advantage

tin-Category ManagementThose suppliers that chose to embrace Category Management have one main benefit – They should be the first to spot category opportunities using quantitative & qualitative data. This usually means that they can have those opportunities for themselves. Supply the product, change the packaging, alter the fixture, and so on. Now, of course, being able to spot the data means that you have had to buy the data and that isn’t cheap, but the alternative is even worse, being lead by another supplier who has bought the data and is ‘running the show’.

There are 2 Types of Last Place Suppliers in Category Management

The 2 types are ‘Those that don’t care’ and ‘Those that know, but don’t know how to use it’. The latter category – Those that know, but don’t know how to use it, are suppliers that buy data because they should, yet reap less than the value they paid for the data from the data. Forever moaning about the cost and never realising the value.

405px-Retail_Strategy,_La_Revolución_en_Category_ManagementOur research suggests that 30% of suppliers are in the don’t care category, 50% are in the don’t know category, and only 20% are in the know category. The ‘know’ category is a supplier that embraces Category Management, buys the data, and works hard to identify insights that lead to opportunities and they work even harder to land those opportunities. A great category Manager measures themselves on opportunities identified, opportunities landed, measures the size of what’s been landed in sales value.

The question is – Which category are you? And do you want to be a ‘know’ supplier’?

Darren A. Smith, Founder of Making Business Matter wrote this article for the Grocery Trader. He spent 12 years as a Category Manager for one of the big four UK supermarkets and now manages Making Business Matter (MBM). MBM is a training provider specialising in Sales & Marketing Teams of suppliers to the big four UK supermarkets using their unique method of Sticky Learning, they invite you to be trained in Category Management Training.

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