Category Presentation – Use this Template to Make Your Category Recommendations Clear

Make Clear Recommendations with This Category Presentation Template

Category Presentations for Category Managers can feel as if you are on a Powerpoint treadmill. Producing deck after deck after deck. Wanting to improve the performance of the category, yet for some reason, Category Managers just cannot get the cut through that they need. The Supermarket Buyer wants category recommendations that they can implement easily, and quickly, to improve the performance of their category. Yet they are subjected to decks of over 50 slides. Sometimes over 3 decks per day. We need to engage them simply, effectively, to achieve the mutual objective of improving category performance quickly and significantly.

Using the ‘RIO’ Template

Over the last 17 years of training suppliers to UK supermarkets in Category Management, we have found a simple solution. One that solves the problem of how to make category recommendations that are clear, and engaging. We call it the ‘RIO’ template. An example is below:

Category presentation chart: Observations, Insights, Recommendations Example

Category Presentation Chart

What is the RIO Template?

The template above is a table that can be inserted as the final slide in your category presentation deck. The table has been designed to ‘force’ you, the Category Manager, to have done the legwork to have identified the ‘right’ category recommendations. Those recommendations that will make the difference to the category. Those that will enable you to prove that you are a great Category Manager. And in a way that the audience can follow easily, and understand the process that you have followed.

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What Does Each Column of the RIO Template Mean?

RIO has 3 columns, Observations, Insights, and Recommendations – Taking the first letter, these spell OIR. We just changed it around to give it a funky name!


The Observation column is a place for a Category Manager to write observations from the data. Any data source. For example, if the Category Manager notices that the market share for subcategory A always drops in August, they just write the facts. In this case, for Supermarket ABC they lose 3ppts of their market share during this month and that equates to a loss of £0.5m in sales. Always include the sales lost number.
For this column, the Category Manager acts as an Observer. They are only identifying changes in the data, like someone witnessing an accident, ‘What did you see?’. ‘I saw the blue car hit the red car at about 20mph because she went through a red light. The red car moved about 3 feet and hit the barrier when the blue car hit it’. The Observation column is the ‘What?’ column – What happened?.


The Insight column in the category presentation template is about using your knowledge of the category. Including, the shopper, other data sources, such as qualitative. You are interpreting the observation. Great Category Managers earn their money in this column. This is because they have to take the observation and figure out why. This column is the ‘Why?’ column. If the observation was XYZ, then why did that happen? Was it because of a change in activity by the competition? Or a change in range? Or a promotion? Category Managers need to know all the moving parts of a category to know why performance has changed.
For this column, the Category Manager is the detective. Using the clues (observations) to piece together why it happened. Answering the ‘whodunnit’. Was it the range in the Summer with the poor quality that caused the market share to decline by 3ppts?


This is the column where the Category Manager demonstrates that they are a great category Manager. They really, really earn their money here. If the observations are the what column and the Insights is the why column, the Recommendations column is the ‘How column’. How do we fix that problem? Or How do we seize that opportunity? Or How can I not lose as much next year? However you, the Category Manager wants to frame the question, you are answering the ‘How’ question. Always include the sales figure that is possible from each recommendation.
Great Category Presentations recommend activities that pass the ‘3-cans’ test:

1. Can it make a significant difference to the performance of the category?

2. Can the results be seen in the data performance of the category within 3 months?

3. Can the activity be proven to deliver beyond a reasonable doubt?

Each category recommendation must pass the 3 Cans test. If it cannot then it should not be recommended to the Buyer until the recommendation has been adapted.

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How Can You, as a Category Manager, get the Reputation You Want?

No-one goes to work to do a bad job. As Category Managers we find it hard to prove our worth. We believe we have the answer. Our research concluded that the average landing rate of a recommendation to a Buyer was only 27%. That means only 1 in 4 category recommendations make it into store. If you can achieve a higher landing rate than this, you are on your way to becoming a Great Category Manager. In our article about the job description of a Category Manager, you can find out more.
So, the first thing is to improve your landing rate. The second part to improve your reputation is to be seen as the person that is always trying to improve the performance of the category and has the answers. Your final slide, the RIO template, could be titled, ‘7 Recommendations to Achieve £7m’, or ‘Do You Want Sales of £10m?’, or similar. Showing yourself as the person with the big answers. Obviously your recommendations must be credible – You can achieve this by using the ‘3 Can’ test.

Summarising the RIO Template for Better Category Presentations

The RIO template aims to help Category Managers to make category recommendations that improve category performance quickly. By using the RIO template a Category Manager is encouraged to do the groundwork before making the presentation to the Supermarket Buyer. A lot of effort goes into creating a very useful completed RIO template. Hours and days might have been spent on following observations and insights in the data that led to black holes. Others will bear fruit. A great Category Manager knows that for every 7 opportunities found, one will be worth sharing with the Buyer.

For further tips and information, you can take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Category Management and our Category Management YouTube Channel. Also, check out our award-winning blog to see more Category Management tips and articles.

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