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Category Management Discussion: Improve Your Category Success

Use Category Management the Right Way to Maximise Success

We have all heard of the phrase ‘Category Management’ and we all use it in part of our day to day lives. Yet, simply paying lip service to what category management means can create a greater loss of trust between a buyer and the supplier than the outcome of any commercial conversations. In today’s world, understanding the strategy of the category you are supplying into is critical. Once you understand this, you have a greater chance of shaping your own commercial, product and portfolio plan to deliver solutions. Solutions that work with the retailer to maximise category success.

Plan Your Category Strategy for Success

There are countless times when I have spoken to a supplier about the direction of travel for a category or subcategory. Typically, we would discuss the key priorities for the next two years. They often say that they have listened and will shape their proposals accordingly.  However, they then send their proposal back two weeks later. You read it and sit there wondering why you bothered when you are presented with a proposal that is just a shopping list for what the supplier wants. Not what the supplier thinks they should supply to maximise the category strategy and success.

Game of chess, Strategy, Category Success

When the buyer then questions the proposal, the phrase, ‘I was not sure what you meant’, comes out. If you are not sure just ask. This is not an exam, seek clarity as you build your proposal and don’t make assumptions.

Prioritise Customer Focus

Despite what some people think, having the widest range of products is not a must for achieving category success.  Having an efficient customer focussed range is far more important. There is more data than ever before to help us make better decisions. This data will be different by retailer so target your presentation to that customer. Don’t just change the company logo on the bottom of your standard PowerPoint. When you turn that page and there is another retailers logo on the deck all credibility will be lost.

Put Yourself in Your Buyer’s Shoes

Improving your chances of category success is about being in the buyer’s shoes. Help them by providing category solutions even if it does mean one of your brands takes a back seat. Showing you have that category impartiality will encourage buyers to turn to you when opportunities arise.


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.

Michael Simpson-Jones

About Michael Simpson-Jones

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