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The evolution of category management, from a narrow scope of tactical planning and organization to a holistic approach incorporating shopper insights and marketing, was the main topic of “Linked,” Kantar Retail’s recently released 2011 Category Leadership Benchmarking Study. Formerly known as CMAR, (Consumer Marketing at Retail), the study focuses on best practices, historical trends, and category leadership insights from both a retailer and a manufacturer perspective.
The study found that manufacturers have remained consistent regarding the value of category management, with 81 percent rating it as “very/extremely important.” For retailers, however category management’s importance has lessened over the past decade. Instead, retailers are looking to their trade partners for category leadership and actions based on insights, according to Wilton, Conn-based Kantar.
Some industry leaders have already shown the effectiveness of a centralized function to integrate the once separate areas of category management, insights and shopper marketing, Kantar noted, adding that this group can take a holistic approach to category leadership, as well as improving their ability to listen, which trading partners deem the key to differentiation.
Meanwhile, trading partners featured in the report forecasted considerable growth in the importance of insights to company differentiation, predicting an increase of more than 30 percentage points between now and the future. Kantar recommends linking this area to existing category management as a way to drive leadership and growth.
Kroger, Walmart, and Target have held on to their spots as the top 3 retailers in terms of best practice category management, with manufacturers particularly impressed by Kroger’s ability to make its stores relevant to customers by using shopper card data.
Procter & Gamble and Kraft Foods top the list of CPG companies with the most effective consumer/shopper insights/category management, although P&G has declined by more than six points. Retailers especially appreciate the two manufacturers’ use of unbiased shopper insights.
Based on the study results, Kantar makes the following recommendations:
- Focus on a higher-level context of shopper insights by listening to the pain points/issues, linking disparate sources of data to unlock real growth solutions, and framing category management recommendations within this context
- Set the organization on a path to deliver a holistic “linked” solution, by developing a function that integrates shopper insight and shopper marketing disciplines
Kantar’s report indicates that such a linked approach is critical both today and in the future, as it can set the best in class apart from “middle-of-the-pack” organizations to effect real growth and leadership at retail.
As well as the Category Leadership Study, Kantar publishes such other industry benchmarking research as the PoweRankinng, the Trade Promotion Spending and Merchandising study, and FoodservicElite.