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Category Management Training

Find Out 9 Things to Include in Your Post Christmas Category Review:

As the roar dies down in the Christmas aisles and the New Year sales fade away, we look to how we performed. For the supplier, the supermarket, their category shoppers and their bottom line, the key question is, ‘Better than last year?’. When you write your post Christmas report for your business or for your supermarket, here are ‘9 Things to Include in Your Post Christmas Category Review’:

1. Category Review: Remember the Shopper

Of course, we need to include the sales value, the sales volume, margin cash and margin percentage, but remember to include the shopper. Did shopper numbers go up over Christmas compared to the previous Christmas and Christmas two years ago? Did they buy more value or more units? And what did they buy more of this year and less of? And why? Try to convert the Kantar-type langauge of ‘penetration’ and ‘conversion’ into much easier to understand and use language, such as, ‘52,000 more customers bought an additional 23p each versus last year in Christmas week, because the promotion was changed from 50p off x to buy one get one half price’.

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2. Category Review:Availability Performance

Our availability performance is absolutely important to record the opportunities for this year so that next year we don’t just forecast the same, but we forecast to cover the opportunity that we missed this year. Also, ensure to include analysis at store level because we all know that some stores get it right, some get it wrong, some stock pile and some seem to have almost forgotten about the Christmas rush completely!

3. Category Review: Include the Intangible

As well as the mandatory numbers, please include the intangible. Use a simple tool of PMI; Positive, Minus and Interesting, which is one of many tools we help Learners to use on our Category Management training. Bullet point list the things that went well, the things that could have gone better, and the stuff that was just plain interesting, because when you come to plan for next Christmas the commentary will be useful to read along with the numbers.

4. Category Review: Recommendations are Essential

A recommendations section in your report is a necessary part. The challenge is to spend the time to make those recommendations actionable for next year’s reader. You’ll have seen other post Christmas category reports and read the recommendations thinking either, ‘that’s obvious’, ‘I don’t understand that’, or ‘That’s too general to use’. Taking the time now to be specific will pay dividends in the future. The question to ask is, ‘Would someone new know exactly what to do with those recommendations to seize the opportunities?’. Using KRA’s can be extremely useful because by having targets to aim for next Christmas we are more likely to achieve them than by not having targets.

5. Category Review: Add an Executive Summary Matrix

Executive summaries have long been part of any effective report. An executive summary that uses a single image with some added commentary will be very powerful. A Boston matrix of Ease and Impact would show the size of the opportunities and how easy they are to seize next year. Next Christmas the person using this report can quickly see the number of opportunities, their size and how easy they could be to implement. See below for an example.

Boston Matrix example of category opportunities

Boston Matrix example of category opportunities

6. Category Review: Online Performance

A report in the age of the internet would not be complete without some analysis of the online sales and the social media effect. By getting close to the supermarket online team you could grab a few insights about your category and how the shoppers shopped your category online this Christmas and maybe identify an opportunity for next year. Regarding social media; Were there any online comments? Facebook likes? Twitter retweets? Were any promotions executed using social media? If not, maybe an opportunity for next year. Find out  .

7. Category Review: Promotions Play an Important Role

Promotions obviously play an important role for so many categories at Christmas. The assessment of those promotions needs to be analysed from 3 perspectives; The supermarket, the supplier and the shopper. To achieve a win for each party is hard but that must be the holy grail of promotions. For the supermarket’s sales & profit to have increased, the same for the supplier and for the shopper – to have been encouraged to buy more, without jeopardising the category. Promotions that simple ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’, i.e. cannibalisation, need re-thinking to achieve the 3 legged stool of happy supermarkets, happy suppliers and happy shoppers.

8. Category Review: Did You Get 3 Ticks in the Box for Overall Market Share?

Achieving 3 ticks for any category is really hard – Reviewing the overall category market share for your supermarket…

  • A. Did your overall category market share for supermarket x increase Vs the 12 month average? If it did, well done, you have successfully, and hopefully without giving away too much margin, got more shoppers to the category than the rest of the year.
  • B. Did your overall category market share increase Vs the same time last year?  If it did, well done, you have successfully, and hopefully without giving away too much margin, got more shoppers to the category than the previous year.
  • C. Did your overall category market share increase Vs the same time 2 years ago?  If it did, well done, you have successfully, and hopefully without giving away too much margin, got more shoppers to the category than 2 years ago.

This is the ultimate challenge to achieve for your supermarket and if you only achieved 1 or 2 ticks, then the recommendations are really important for next year. A post Christmas report next year could headline, ‘3 ticks in the box for overall market share’.

9. Category Review: Qualitative Feedback is Always Hard to Get for Christmas

Usually most post Christmas reports are full of numbers, the performance and lots of minuses and pluses. Adding the qualitative element to your report can uncover insights for next year that numbers cannot. Including a perspective from the people who work in the stores would be useful, the guys in your supply chain, the supermarket’s supply chain, and/or a simple survey asking your employees what they saw in store about your category that was good, bad or indifferent. The story that Birds Eye tell well is of their work on availability with a supermarket. Using numbers graphs and endless analysis, they still could not increase the on-shelf availability. They then discovered by asking store colleagues that if only there were more gloves in-store availability would improve, because no-one likes to hold and touch the frozen cardboard boxes as their hands get too cold!

For further information, you can find our Ultimate Guide to Category Management here.

What else do you include in your post Christmas report? Please share your view by commenting below.

Darren A. Smith

About Darren A. Smith

Darren has been working in the world of UK Supermarkets and Suppliers for over 20 years. He began his career as a buyer at one of the big 4 UK supermarkets and after rising through the ranks he decided to leave after 13 years and set-up Making Business Matter. For the last 14 years he has run MBM, which is a training provider to the UK grocery industry. Helping suppliers to the big four supermarkets to develop the soft skills that will secure them more profitable wins.

2 Comments

  • Emily Wren says:

    I think point 6 is very important, with times how they are and technology booming, having an eye or a focus in the online world is key to future success.

  • Emma Cooper says:

    I agree with the above comment, point 6 is a key focus as online success is essential moving forward. I also believe qualitative feedback is a good idea to look at, because it gives a more detailed description of S&W’s and where specifically future focus should be.

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