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    Strengthening the Shopper Experience

    PG?s 2014 Category Captains winners understand that boosting baskets means transcending brands to drive sales across the store.

    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ

    Make the experience the hero, not the product.

    That was the mantra of former PepsiCo boss John Scully, and it?s certainly a philosophy that has turned the best companies into selling machines. In an age where shoppers are looking for not just ?stuff,? but also a personalized experience that makes them feel they?re truly understood by retailers, it?s an attitude that merchants of all stripes would be well advised to follow.

    Shoppers want solutions, and meeting or exceeding such expectations is the difference between a good retailer and a great one. And the great ones are partnering effectively with their CPG allies to deliver on their promises.

    The concept of category management is rapidly transforming into ?need state management,? according to the Category Management Association?s Gordon Wade, who notes that while traditional grocers are struggling with leakage to other channels that have proved themselves better equipped to deliver in certain categories, supermarket retailers must leverage their strengths to drive traffic throughout the store and cultivate a flourishing customer base.

    That means partnering well with suppliers that can create customized solutions for the highly regionalized tastes of grocery shoppers around the country, by turning valuable customer insights into actionable and monetized solutions that keep people coming through the door.

    Now in their 18th year, Progressive Grocer?s Category Captains awards honor CPG companies for their category management prowess, as demonstrated by their partnerships with grocery retailers.

    This year, there were 105 total winners among those selected as Category Captains, our top honor, and Category Advisors, our honorable-mention designation.

    From perimeter to center store, suppliers continue to demonstrate their understanding of retailers? needs to address shopper demands and offer innovative ways to achieve them, elevating the visibility and relevance not simply of their own brands, but also of their entire categories and, increasingly, other categories throughout the store.

    Top category managers understand how shoppers think. For example, as more shoppers look to retailers like Amazon for diapers, Procter & Gamble has stepped up its game to keep grocers top of mind with baby care consumers. Cross-merchandising with complementary products and stressing performance claims are proving successful at keeping shoppers in center store for their baby needs.

    Meanwhile, as sales of canned tuna have dwindled, Bumble Bee Seafoods has leveraged consumers? desire for transparency and responsible sourcing, rallying retail support for its partnership with the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

    And Hormel?s joint venture MegaMex Foods is driving growth across the multicategory ethnic food segment by joining with retailers to maximize regional preferences in authentic Mexican foods.

    Other standouts: Anheuser-Busch and E&J Gallo continue to build upon their historic successes in the spirits department, while Zevia is breathing new life into carbonated soft drinks. Enjoy Life has built the ?free-from? category from a few niche products into a mainstream destination. Kraft has created a new category to meet growing demand for high-protein options, with its refrigerated snack packs.

    And several categories achieved shared captaincy ? an indication of how impressed we were by exemplary entries in categories such as candy, soft drinks, bagged salads and vitamin supplements.

    Working together to understand consumer behavior can be a sure-fire method for retailers and manufacturers to deliver sustainable category growth, and retain shopper loyalty, as alternative channels like e-tailers hit upon better ways to deliver the goods.

    Best practices abound on the following pages ?

    INDEX OF THE WINNERS%

    GENERAL MERCHANDISE

    BABY PRODUCTS

    Category Captain: Procter & Gamble
    Category Advisor: Seventh Generation

    HOME CLEANERS

    Category Captain: Seventh Generation

    PAPER PRODUCTS

    Category Advisor: Seventh Generation

    GROCERY ? FOOD & BEVERAGES

    ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES ? BEER

    Category Captain: Anheuser-Busch

    ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES ? WINE

    Category Captain: E&J Gallo Winery

    BABY FOOD & CONSUMABLES

    Category Captain: Nestlé Nutrition

    BAKING INGREDIENTS

    Category Captain: J.M. Smucker Co.
    Category Captain: General Mills (Flour)
    Category Advisor: General Mills (Baking Mixes)

    Category Advisor: John B. SanFilippo & Son Inc. (Nuts)

    BREAKFAST ? DRINKABLE

    Category Captain: Kellogg Co.
    Category Advisor: Nestlé Nutrition

    BREAKFAST ? HOT CEREAL

    Category Advisor: General Mills

    BREAKFAST ? READY-TO-EAT CEREAL

    Category Captain: General Mills
    Category Advisor: Kellogg Co.

    BREAKFAST ? TOASTER PASTRIES

    Category Captain: Kellogg Co.

    CANDY & GUM

    Category Captain: Hershey Co.
    Category Captain: Wm. Wrigley Jr./Mars

    CANNED & PACKAGED BEVERAGES ? COFFEE

    Category Aadvisor: J.M. Smucker Co.
    Category advisor: Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA

    CANNED & PACKAGED BEVERAGES ? JUICE

    Category advisor: Good2Grow

    CANNED & PACKAGED BEVERAGES ? SOFT DRINKS

    Category Captain: Dr Pepper Snapple Group
    Category Captain: Zevia
    Category Advisor: LaCroix Beverages Inc.

    CANNED & PACKAGED BEVERAGES ? TEA

    Category Advisor: Unilever

    CANNED & PACKAGED FOODS ? BOXED DINNERS

    Category Captain: Kraft Foods Group
    Category Advisor: General Mills

    CANNED & PACKAGED FOODS ? DRY PACKAGED POTATOES

    Category Captain: Idahoan Foods
    Category Advisor: General Mills

    CANNED & PACKAGED FOODS ? SEAFOOD

    Category Captain: Bumble Bee Seafoods

    CANNED & PACKAGED FOODS ? SHELF-STABLE VEGETABLES

    Category Advisor: General Mills

    CANNED & PACKAGED FOODS ? SOUPS

    Category Captain: General Mills

    CANNED & PACKAGED FOODS ? SPREADS

    Category Captain: Ferrero USA (Bread Spreads)
    Category Captain: J.M. Smucker Co. (Fruit Spreads)
    Category Captain: J.M. Smucker Co. (Nut Butters)

    COMMERCIAL BAKED GOODS

    Category Captain: Flowers Foods

    CONDIMENTS & DRESSINGS ? MAYONNAISE

    Category Captain: Unilever

    CONFECTIONS

    Category Captain: Ferrero Rocher

    CONVENIENT WHOLESOME FOODS

    Category Captain: General Mills
    Category Advisor: Kellogg Co.

    COOKIES & CRACKERS

    Category Captain: Kellogg Co.
    Category Advisor: General Mills

    DESSERTS

    Category Captain: General Mills

    ETHNIC FOODS

    Category Captain: General Mills
    Category Captain: Hormel Foods (MegaMex)

    FREE-FROM FOODS

    Category Captain: Enjoy Life

    MEAT SNACKS

    Category Captain: Jack Link?s

    NATURAL & ORGANIC FOODS

    Category Advisor: General Mills

    SALTY SNACKS

    Category Captain: Kraft Foods Group
    Category Captain: Flagstone Foods
    Category Advisor: General Mills
    Category Advisor: Kellogg Co.

    FROZEN FOODS

    BAKED GOODS

    Category Advisor: General Mills

    BREAKFAST

    Category Captain: Kellogg Co.
    Category Advisor: General Mills

    ENTRÉES

    Category Advisor: General Mills
    Category Advisor: Pinnacle Foods Inc.

    ICE CREAM & NOVELTIES

    Category Captain: Unilever

    MEAT SUBSTITUTES

    Category Captain: Kellogg Co.

    PIZZA

    Category Captain: General Mills

    SNACKS

    Category Captain: General Mills

    VEGETABLES

    Category Captain: General Mills
    Category Advisor: Pinnacle Foods Inc.

    HEALTH, BEAUTY & WELLNESS

    ANTIPERSPIRANTS/DEODORANTS

    Category Captain: Unilever

    BALANCED/DIABETIC NUTRITION

    Category Advisor: Abbott Nutrition

    COSMETICS

    Category Advisor: Procter & Gamble

    FOOT CARE

    Category Captain: Merck Consumer Care

    HAIR CARE

    Category Advisor: Unilever

    OTC ANALGESICS

    Category Captain: Bayer HealthCare

    SKIN/SUN CARE

    Category Captain: Merck Consumer Care

    VITAMINS/SUPPLEMENTS

    Category Captain: Pharmavite
    Category Captain: U.S. Nutrition
    Category Advisor: Bayer HealthCare

    PERIMETER

    BAKED GOODS

    Category Captain: CSM Bakery Products
    Category Advisor: Bakery Crafts

    DAIRY ? EGGS

    Category Advisor: Eggland?s Best

    DAIRY ? MARGARINE

    Category Captain: Unilever

    DAIRY ? REFRIGERATED BAKED GOODS

    Category Captain: General Mills

    DAIRY ? YOGURT

    Category Captain: General Mills

    DELI ? MEAT

    Category Captain: Dietz & Watson

    DELI ? PREPARED FOODS

    Category Captain: Tyson Foods Inc.

    REFRIGERATED DIP

    Category Advisor: Del Monte Fresh Produce
    Category Advisor: Wholly Guacamole

    REFRIGERATED MEAT SNACKS

    Category Advisor: Kraft Foods Group

    REFRIGERATED PASTA & SAUCES

    Category Advisor: Rana Meal Solutions

    REFRIGERATED SALAD DRESSING

    Category Advisor: Litehouse Foods

    SUPERPREMIUM JUICE

    Category Captain: Bolthouse Farms

    PERIMETER ? VARIABLE/FIXED-WEIGHT PRODUCE

    AVOCADOS

    Category Advisor: Del Monte Fresh Produce

    BANANAS

    Category Captain: Chiquita Brands

    BERRIES

    Category Captain: Dole Fresh Vegetables

    FRESH-CUT FRUIT

    Category Captain: Del Monte Fresh Produce

    FRESH-PACKED VEGETABLES

    Category Captain: Dole Fresh Vegetables

    LETTUCE

    Category Advisor: Green Giant Fresh

    MUSHROOMS

    Category Captain: Monterey Mushrooms

    PACKAGED SALADS

    Category Captain: Dole Fresh Vegetables
    Category Captain: Chiquita Brands

    PEARS

    Category Advisor: CMI

    PINEAPPLES

    Category Advisor: Del Monte Fresh Produce

    POTATOES

    Category Captain: United States Potato Board
    Category Advisor: Idaho Potato Commission

    SPECIALTY PRODUCE

    Category Advisor: Frieda?s Inc.

    VALUE-ADDED VEGETABLES

    Category Captain: Mann Packing Co.

    PERIMETER ? OTHER

    AUTOMATED RETAIL

    Category Advisor: Outerwall

    FRONT END SERVICES

    Category Captain: Blackhawk Network

    GENERAL MERCHANDISE

    Category Captain
    Baby Care ? Diapers

    Procter & Gamble

    The Procter & Gamble baby care team for two major discount retailers leveraged shopper research and innovative shelf capabilities to enable the retailer to maximize its share on P&G?s Big Bang launch, which included extending Swaddlers into sizes 4 and 5. Consumers responded favorably to the execution, generating significantly higher awareness than average. The team leveraged product innovation and shopper-based design to step-change their growth rates versus balance of market. Research with moms reinforced that baby care was stale and offered little reason to trade up, but performance claims were the top opportunity to do so. At one retailer, a signage solution included an opportunity to incorporate additional assortment via QR codes. At the other, a shelf solution integrated baby wipes into the diaper section and end cap displays (research showed 96 percent of moms who buy diapers also buy wipes, but only 20 percent actually buy them on the same trip). Adding wipes to the diaper aisle helped build the basket and aided moms who may have forgotten to add the item to their shopping lists.

    Category Advisor
    Baby Care ? Wipes

    Seventh Generation

    In 2014, Seventh Generation focused on understanding and optimizing pricing strategy across its priority categories. These learnings helped the company and its retail partners better understand the likely impact of optimizing everyday price on sales and profit dollars. In addition, it provided an increased level of confidence to implement an everyday pricing strategy that provided a competitive retail price while maintaining a premium to conventional baby wipes, to profitably grow the business for the retailer and the manufacturer. Based on its extensive research, Seventh Generation provided an expert understanding of the green shopper, enabling the company to partner with retailers to meet the needs of the growing green consumer segment. The strategy has driven significant results: In the four months since the price change rolled out, retailers that implemented the strategy have posted strong dollar sales gains.

    Category Captain
    Home Cleaners

    Seventh Generation

    Seventh Generation teamed with a leading regional retailer to offer an innovative consumer merchandising program that drove category sales and dramatically increased the retailer?s social media presence. The challenge was to educate shoppers on the retailer?s responsible-retailing initiative featuring nontoxic products. The retailer and Seventh Generation worked together to create a co-branded campaign that featured a Facebook sweepstakes for an energy-efficient laundry room makeover, branded product giveaways, dedicated weekly e-mails and a monthly newsletter with coupons and sustainable-living tips, end cap displays, POS materials, and other promotional tools. Overall, the retailer?s dish and laundry detergent categories experienced significant growth over the year-ago period, with category performance remaining strong in the four weeks post-promotion.

    Category Advisor
    Paper Products

    Seventh Generation

    Seventh Generation aimed to introduce its 100 percent recycled bathroom tissue and paper towels into the mainstream grocery and mass-merchandise channel. Based on research showing that consumers are willing to trade up to ?authentic? green products, the company leveraged strong growth of other green household product categories, including cleaners and detergents. By combining its understanding of the green consumer with POS and household transactional data, Seventh Generation could help its retailer partners better understand and meet the needs of the growing green consumer segment. The company?s products allowed retailers to command a higher price and deliver a higher profit margin than conventional brands, with higher dollars per occasion, repeat purchases and total basket size. Retailers teaming with Seventh Generation grew the total paper category, bucking the national trends.

    GROCERY ? FOODS & BEVERAGES

    Category Captain
    Alcoholic Beverages ? Beer

    Anheuser-Busch

    Building on the success of its Balanced Portfolio Approach, introduced in 2012, Anheuser-Busch spent the past year digging deeper into its data to deliver more precise strategies and tactics to its retailer partners. The beer maker expanded its program to look not only at which retailers were winning, but also why they were winning. A-B gathered data from nearly 40,000 retail outlets from various syndicated providers, while also compiling revenue and unit sales from various sources, all at the store level. For the first time, the company could see what the top 25 percent of stores were doing, versus the bottom 25 percent, considering such factors as space, assortment, features, display and price, and then share suggestions with its partners. The Balanced Portfolio Approach helped retailers grow beer dollars (6.2 percent) and gain category share of market (up 0.62) in 2014.

    Category Captain
    Alcoholic Beverages ? Wine

    E&J Gallo Winery

    With an eye toward Millennials, E&J Gallo Winery conducted one of the largest studies ever on wine consumers and their motivations, which has been the basis for much of its category management work in the past year. In one example, the company introduced the industry?s first limited-release seasonal wines under the Apothic brand. To support the launch, Gallo developed a multifaceted media plan, as well as innovative in-store promotions, that created consumer excitement. During its season, Apothic Rosé was the No. 1 rosé in the U.S. market, despite limited distribution and selling time. Apothic Dark and Apothic Red were the fastest-growing SKUs in the category after Dark launched. At two major national chains that really got behind the launch, wine sales outpaced the competitive market significantly. Another of Gallo?s recent category management achievements is the introduction of the industry?s first proprietary category management and schematic automation systems. Gallo?s team has been able to transform a major retailer?s manual planogramming into an automated yet customized, store-specific process, achieving significant savings.

    Category Captain
    Baby Food & Consumables

    Nestlé Nutrition

    As the infant nutrition category dollar share market leader, Nestlé provided relevant innovation across all stages of the category, from birth to toddler. Responding to consumer needs, the company introduced Gerber Good Start Gentle for Supplementing, aimed at moms who supplement breastfeeding, as this is the fastest-growing segment in formula. Less than four months after its March launch, the product had garnered a 39 dollar share of the total supplementing segment. Other successful new products included probiotic Gerber Soothe Colic Drops, stage-based fruit or yogurt pouches, and Fruit & Vegetable Blend Tubs. The company also helped retailers educate moms on the appropriate nutrition for their infants? development, and tested various merchandising concepts across several retailers to further increase sales and consumption. As well as offering merchandising support, Gerber helped drive shoppers to the category and beef up baskets with two national baby events, while Nestlé provided customized 360 shopper marketing support.

    Category Captain
    Baking Ingredients

    J.M. Smucker Co.

    Birthdays are a year-round top driver to the baking aisle, so when Pillsbury?s Funfetti brand reached its 25th birthday, Smucker?s created products and strategies to drive the category further into this $37 billion-plus multicategory occasion. A new line of Bold Frostings met consumers? needs by guaranteeing the desired color and eliminating the concern of staining. Through a virtual shopping test to understand shelving dynamics, Smucker?s discovered that Funfetti items drove better category performance when shelved adjacent to like items; retailers realized improved findability and overall segment performance. Smucker?s developed a comprehensive communication strategy, including television, public relations, social media, a contest, coupons and in-store execution. The company then teamed with a leading national retailer that was experiencing declining frosting sales. This retailer?s shoppers were more likely to plan their baking shopping experiences. Smucker?s initiated coupon mailers to loyalty card members and implemented optimal shelving tactics, and category sales rebounded.

    Category Captain
    Baking Ingredients ? Flour

    General Mills

    General Mills? Gold Medal is the branded share leader in the four category. The company has helped yield steady returns for the category, which has experienced a three-year dollar volume compound annual growth rate of 4.5 percent. General Mills is currently finalizing research to complete an update of its ?Flour Category 101? toolkit before the end of the year. Retailers can leverage this information to optimize assortment and shelf layout, as well as merchandising and pricing tactics. In addition, General Mills recently completed its ?Baking Path to Purchase-Path to Sweet Cravings 2014? study of consumer attitudes, decisions and behaviors throughout the purchase cycle. Through a category shelf audit completed with Nielsen, the supplier gained rich insights into four best practices that it shared with retailers nationwide. In terms of product innovation, General Mills launched Betty Crocker Gluten Free Flour, as well as an organic, all-purpose four under its Immaculate Baking Co. brand.

    Category Advisor
    Baking Ingredients ? Mixes

    General Mills

    General Mills is the leader in dollar share in the baking/pancake mix category and has the highest household penetration. The company?s Baking Aisle Platform offered guidance to retailers for optimal category adjacencies and aisle flow, with the goal of optimizing sales in the baking aisle. To drive incremental category growth, General Mills? Bisquick brand again focused on uses beyond pancakes. In addition to communicating Bisquick?s versatility, the brand rolled out updated packaging that clearly illustrated several uses for the baking mix. In-store, General Mills teamed with retailers to use Bisquick as the anchor for meal solution features or display merchandising, with the goal of increasing basket ring. Additionally, to leverage growth in the natural/organic segment and meet consumer needs, the company launched dry baking items under its Immaculate Baking Co. brand, including a pancake and wafflee mix. The entire line is organic, made without added preservatives and Non-GMO Project enrolled.

    Category Advisor
    Baking Ingredients ? Nuts

    Fisher Nuts

    In the past year, Fisher Nuts, the No. 2 brand in the recipe nut category, has continued to expand its 360 campaign with category innovations and initiatives designed to bring the brand further growth and success. This work has helped catapult Fisher to the No. 1 (excluding club stores) brand in the category. Its initiatives included a recipe contest in partnership with Food Network chef Alex Guarnaschelli, a Fisher blogger network featuring 10 key food and recipe influencers to engage consumers, and the introduction of 24-ounce packaging to provide more convenience for consumers. These efforts not only helped grow the category, but also aided in securing incremental distribution with several new retailer customers. For the fiscal year ending in June, Fisher Nuts grew 26 percent, and increased overall share by 3.8 points versus last year.

    Category Captain
    Breakfast ? Drinkable

    Kellogg Co.

    Drinkable breakfast segment share leader Kellogg?s dedicated on-the-go (OTG) breakfast/drinkable set offered two stopping points in the breakfast aisle: an OTG breakfast set and a traditional RTE cereal set. Loyalty card data showed that on average, the set provided 32 percent incrementality to the overall breakfast aisle, which the company attributed to the fact that it targeted a younger, more affluent shopper. Further, a dedicated OTG section was implemented in the stores of 16 major retailers, with highly positive initial results ? close to 50 percent incrementality rates, indicating that Kellogg tapped into white space that wasn?t being targeted. In the realm of innovation, the company introduced two new products: Chocolate Mocha & Vanilla Cappuccino Coffee House Shakes, targeting shoppers who enjoy coffee flavors and the satiety of the RTD offering. Thanks to Kellogg?s activities, 41 percent of drinkable breakfast sales are now RTD, a 12-point share increase from 2013.

    Category Advisor
    Breakfast ? Drinkable

    Nestlé Nutrition

    In 2015, Nestlé will mark the 50th anniversary of the launch of Carnation Instant Breakfast, which created the convenient breakfast category. The company is the market leader in convenient breakfast solutions, with a 71.9 percent share, and controls nearly 98 percent of the powder segment, the category?s largest. Over the past year, Nestlé grew the convenient breakfast category by relaunching Carnation Breakfast Essentials Ready to Drink in a 6-count package at the same SRP as the original 4-count SKU, so that consumers received 50 percent more servings without having to pay more, and by introducing a 22-count value pack in grocery and mass to lift sales through a new value option for consumers and higher basket sizes for retailers. The company also rolled out packaging to help retailers maximize shelf space. What?s more, Carnation Breakfast Essentials is the only convenient breakfast brand with a no-sugar-added product within the powder segment.

    Category Advisor
    Breakfast ? Hot Cereal

    General Mills

    General Mills brought innovation to this $1.4 billion category, meeting the need for hearty breakfasts that consumers can feel good about eating and serving. The company?s hot cereal offerings under its Chex and Nature Valley brands address health (gluten-free), convenience (cups) and unique usage (K-cup) in a category that was ready for new alternatives. Leveraging Keurig technology, the Nature Valley Bistro Cups Oatmeal line expands the potential for new users to the category, as well as an increased dollar ring. General Mills collaborated with retailers to help them understand this opportunity. Through category research and consumer insights, shelf enhancements, and new products, the company is positioned for growth in the hot cereal category and profitable growth with retailers.

    Category Captain
    Breakfast ? RTE Cereal

    General Mills

    General Mills continued to drive retailer growth in the increasingly challenging $9 billion RTE cereal category. Despite the growing popularity of breakfast away from home, as well as birthrate declines, the core of the category remained strong, growing at 1.8 percent over the past year. One of the two largest manufacturers in the RTE cereal category, General Mills competed in all segments of the category, offering mainstream brands (i.e., Cheerios), as well as a natural/organic brand (Cascadian Farm). Its category management team shared proprietary insights and retailer strategies in distribution, merchandising, shelf work and pricing that led to best practice principles. Knowing that variety is critical to growing RTE cereal, General Mills carried out several leadership initiatives that gathered new in-aisle shopper-based consumer decision information. New Cheerios Protein and Nature Valley Protein Granola cereal were some of its new items that addressed key consumer need states for taste and satiety. General Mills also continued to enhance its Smart Bundler tool, a proprietary capability that optimizes merchandising across manufacturers.

    Category Advisor
    Breakfast Foods ? RTE Cereal

    Kellogg Co.

    Kellogg made RTE cereal a pivotal building block in its Evolution of Morning Foods aisle concept, and, as a component of its easier-to-navigate target-age merchandising flow, recommended a doors and windows (D&W) merchandising strategy requiring vertical key brand blocks and highlighting taste. To date, 11 major retailers have implemented the target-age merchandising flow, while 14 have deployed D&W; these retailers experienced sales better than that of the category by 0.8 points. Additionally, a dedicated on-the-go (OTG) cereal section rolled out to stores at 16 major retailers, resulting in better-than-average category performance by a whopping 20 points. In the fast-moving granola segment, although the product has traditionally been included in the natural and organic RTE cereal set, Kellogg advocated separate, dedicated granola sets, which allow consumers to ?one-stop shop? for the item. Retailers with dedicated granola sets saw four times the assortment growth, and almost five times the velocity growth, as accounts with nondedicated sets.

    Category Captain
    Breakfast ? Toaster Pastries

    Kellogg Co.

    Driven by the recent success of its Gone Nutty platform, Kellogg?s Pop Tarts, the No 1 toaster pastry brand, continued to grow segment share. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the brand, Pop-Tarts brought back two popular past products, Chocolate Vanilla Crème and Milk Chocolate Graham, as well as introducing a limited-edition Red Velvet Cupcake variety that was so successful it became a permanent item for 2015. Kellogg determined that the toaster pastry set works best when assortment is from 24 to 30 items per store, allowing the best mix of variety on shelf. Leading with core SKUs prevented out-of-stocks and drove more consumers to the set. Additionally, ensuring the correct assortment enabled more consumers to find items during stock-up trips and, as a result, drove overall basket ring. According to Kellogg, an ideal toaster pastry shelf should be at least 4 feet and placed directly across from kids? RTE cold cereal.

    Category Captain
    Candy & Gum

    The Hershey Co.

    Hershey?s Insights Driven Performance (IDP) process, encompassing industry-leading insights, capability and proprietary tools, enabled it to help a major Midwestern grocer reinvent and revitalize its front end. For seven years, the retailer had used the same front end racks, which were overdependent on checkout-area categories in steep decline. To remedy this situation, Hershey executed a confection strategy of 60 percent candy, 25 percent gum and 15 percent mints, due to declining sales trends within the gum segment, and fixed the total mix within all three segments. The company?s step-by-step process for a best-in-class total front end solution included engaging the retail customer at all levels, from senior leadership to daily contacts, to ensure clear, consistent strategies and messaging, with Hershey remaining highly visible throughout the nearly two-year re-rack process. As a result, the grocer?s confection sales now significantly outpace those of the grocery channel.

    Category Captain
    Candy & Gum

    Mars Chocolate North America/Wm. Wrigley Co.

    To help grocery retailers achieve front end success, Mars Chocolate North America and Wrigley introduced racks illuminated with LED lights, already successfully used on cosmetics, produce and other fresh food displays. The innovative racks ? combined with the ideal assortment and shelf pitch ? created a brighter environment and made the area more inviting for shoppers to browse the impulse-driven candy and gum category while waiting at checkout, providing a focal point for retailers to convert shoppers. Test markets demonstrated lift across the confection category over 52 weeks, without regard to brand, items or pack size. Further, confectionery sales increased even more when the product was set at a higher angle, with more spacing for maximum visibility. Consequently, Mars Chocolate and Wrigley have placed the racks in various grocery chains across the country, where they?ve performed well, boosting front end grocery sales by an average of 10 percent to 12 percent.

    Category Advisor
    Canned & Packaged Beverages ? Coffee

    J.M. Smucker Co.

    Hispanics are driving U.S. population growth and are as involved in the coffee category as the general population, making them more valuable shoppers long-term. Meanwhile, coffee continues to grow, driven by the K-cup segment, but is slowing down, despite continued product launches; there has been a lack of innovation within K-cups to meet the taste and flavor preferences of Hispanics. Identifying an unmet need, Smucker?s commissioned several studies, discovering that key brands and unique items would drive segment growth and incrementality. The brand then launched Café Bustelo K-cups, which appealed to Hispanic shoppers with an authentic, fun energy and full-bodied taste. One national account was an early adopter and has performed extremely well; the retailer has experienced a growth in household penetration and is outpacing total U.S. all outlets for dollar and units per buyer, and dollar sales per trip, for K-cups.

    Category Advisor
    Canned & Packaged Beverages ? Coffee

    Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA

    Realizing that grocery retailers needed to evolve the coffee aisle to better meet consumers? higher expectations regarding category variety, product quality, in-store merchandising and shopping experience, or risk losing even more share of the category to alternative retail channels, Massimo Zanetti Beverage (MZB), provider of the Chock Full of Nuts and Hills Bros. brands, along with private label products, made a comprehensive investment in insights to provide its retail partners with an in-depth assessment of coffee consumer attitudes and shopper motivations. The resulting best practices approach to coffee leadership led to multiple recommendations for grocery retailers on how to optimize coffee sales, including in the areas of category/product segmentation, aisle optimization and assortment. MZB?s efforts helped coffee category units increase 7.3 percent in the grocery channel over the latest 52 weeks ending Aug. 2 as reported by Nielsen, with category dollar sales increasing 3.5 percent over the same time period.

    Category Advisor
    Canned & Packaged Beverages ? Juice

    Good2Grow

    According to IRI, sales for the rebranded Good2grow kids? beverage line increased by 54 percent year over year in the grocery category, while its share went from 1.9 percent to 2.9 percent. The company invested in research to ensure that its licensed character toppers were always up to date, and to create optimal pack-out configurations, including both boy and girl properties, for maximum sell-through on shelf. Merchandising success came from various off-shelf vehicles, along with collaborations with its top licensing partners to create secondary opportunities such as the ?Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? and ?Frozen? programs, along with the Barbie and ?Thomas the Tank Engine? DVD initiatives. The company additionally worked with licensors on unique social media campaigns that gave it more reach, increased its consumer database, and generated value for both Good2grow and its partners. Good2grow drove significant margins in a category that?s been in decline.

    Category Captain
    Canned & Packaged Beverages ? Soda

    Dr Pepper Snapple Group

    The beverage aisle has seen a shift toward more craft products in recent years, which has resulted in a resurgence of growth within the gourmet segment of carbonated soft drinks. Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) took a leadership role to help retailers assort and optimize their soft drink space to respond to this growing need. Specifically, the company worked with a ?super-regional retailer,? leveraging the days of supply (DOS) methodology to analyze shelf performance, working with Spectra to uncover demographic opportunities, and studying category/consumer trends to identify assortment gaps. The work culminated in significant dollar, volume and share growth for the retailer. Since the new planograms and revised assortment were implemented in spring 2014, the gourmet carbonated beverage category at the account has increased market share by points, and overall volume has increased 28 percent over the previous 12 weeks, 1.5 times more than the regional market.

    Category Captain
    Canned & Packaged Beverages ? Soda

    Zevia

    Over the past year, declines in the sales of low-/zero-calorie CSDs have accelerated. Consumer research showed diet pop consumption was down because of the perception that artificial sweeteners are unhealthy. Zevia ? a zero-calorie, stevia-sweetened CSD ? leveraged familiar packaging and flavors to achieve rapid penetration among diet CSD shoppers. The brand identified two key groups ? Millennial shoppers and Hispanic households ? that significantly underindexed for diet CSD consumption and overindexed for Zevia. Another key insight: Shoppers responded to the platform appeal of the brand, versus a particular flavor, suggesting that broad assortment was a key driver of incremental sales. One major national grocery chain doubled its selection of Zevia from four to eight flavors; another reset its shelves and added vertical space to convert Zevia from single-stacked 6-packs to double-stacked, an adjustment that doubled inventory at shelf and significantly reduced out-of-stocks. The company created attractive feature/display programs that not only provided a hot price point to drive multiples purchasing, but also generated significant margins for retailers. Finally, Zevia worked closely with supermarket dietitians to build awareness; programs such as shelf tags, in-store sampling and ?dietitian recommended? displays helped revitalize category sales.

    Category Advisor
    Canned & Packaged Beverages ? Sparkling Water

    LaCroix Beverages

    As sales of traditional carbonated soft drinks sagged, sparkling water was one of the few bright spots in the category, and La Croix helped lead the way. The company embarked on a series of new product introductions, shelf presentation initiatives based on emerging consumer need states, and a category leadership position to assist retailers in optimizing their beverage revenues and enhanced profit margins in a declining soft drink marketplace. LaCroix brought excitement and innovation to the sparkling water category through new flavors, themes and packaging; strategically effective promotional calendars; and engaging social media platforms. LaCroix was at the helm of a sparkling water category up nearly 20 percent at grocery. The company?s partnership with a major discount retailer created new shelf sets to set apart ?pure? from ?sweetened? brands, thus boosting awareness. Inclusion of the product in advertising, café meal combos and seasonal displays further drove sales.

    Category Advisor
    Canned & Packged Beverages ? Tea

    Unilever

    With K-cup technology driving growth in the coffee category, Unilever saw an opportunity to grow its tea K-cup pack sales by expanding Keurig brewer usage during additional dayparts, including lunch and dinner, thereby driving incrementality for the category. This year?s launch of Lipton Iced Tea Lemonade and Classic Unsweetened Iced K-cups was supported by the Lipton Be More Tea campaign starring the Muppets in both a commercial, which aired during the Oscars, and digitally. Additional awareness and trial were driven by a targeted direct mailer with product samples and off-shelf display, including floorstands, displays and sidekicks. The effort culminated in Lipton K-cup packs driving almost half of the incremental dollar sales for the entire tea machine dispense category during the latest 52 weeks and market share leadership during the latest 12-week period.

    Category Captain
    Canned & Packaged Foods ? Boxed Dinners

    Kraft Foods Group

    Setting out to reinvigorate boxed dinners and help offset center store declines, Kraft, which holds a 42 percent share of the category, took a macro view of consumers? needs/desires and shopper patterns/attitudes. While maintaining the familiar flavor profile and brand image of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, the company removed artificial colors from its shapes varieties, adding 6 grams of whole grain and slashing sodium by 15 percent. Kraft also relaunched its Back to Nature mac & cheese, which offers 100 percent USDA Certified organic ingredients. The company leveraged retailer-specific shopper insights and financial metrics to optimize the dinner aisle by boosting productivity and shopability, and prompted major retailers to make each of their stores strategically address its market through a deep dive into shopper data. By employing such data and its comprehensive knowledge of the dinner occasion, Kraft initiated change that will drive long-term growth and value at retail.

    Category Advisor
    Canned & Packaged Foods ? Boxed Dinners

    General Mills

    The dry packaged dinner (DPD) category, one of the largest in center store, is highly important to retailers, as 73 percent of households shop the category more than six times a year on average, purchasing three units during each trip. From its work on consumer path-to-purchase insights, included in the ?Dinners Revolution? category story, the company identified strengths, opportunities and future growth strategies. In partnership with Nielsen, General Mills again audited nearly 3,000 stores across the United States to develop a Gold Standard Planogram, which aimed to maximize sales for the category and across each segment by providing detailed guidance for share of space, share of facings, number of shelves, and an optimal number of SKUs. Retailers saw significant category lift by leveraging this holistic approach. The company also provided retailers with merchandising best practices that maximized lifts on ads and displays, and introduced 16 DPD items to the market.

    Category Captain
    Canned & Packaged Foods ? Bread Spreads

    Ferrero USA

    As the leader in the growing hazelnut bread spread segment, Ferrero USA?s Nutella brand partnered with retailers to drive innovation and maximize sales and profits. Nutella has delivered on two fronts in the past year: product and merchandising innovation. Nutella & Go was developed after shopper research showed that consumers wanted a convenient on-the-go snacking version of Nutella. The product has quickly become the second-fastest mover in all of spreads. Meanwhile, Nutella continued to support merchandising innovation, conducting shopper studies to provide learnings on how to maximize sales by leveraging shopper insights. The Nutella Shopper Insights research conducted with Edgewood Consulting affirmed that hazelnut was now a mainstream segment. Nutella also commissioned a category management shelf set study to identify best practices to drive hazelnut sales growth. The No. 1 barrier to hazelnut spread growth was lack of visibility and consistent placement within bread spreads. Retailers that have adopted Nutella?s ?MVP? principles are enjoying higher sales rates.

    Category Captain
    Canned & Packaged Foods ? Dry Packaged Potatoes

    Idahoan Foods

    Idahoan and Kantar conducted a full category assortment optimization study to drive growth at Idahoan?s retail partners, allowing them to identify their optimal product mix. The company also worked with retailers to create planograms based on consumer shopping patterns, employing Nielsen and internal primary research that enabled Idahoan to develop The Optimal Set, which lays out the most efficient use of retail space. One grocer, faced with declining potato sales, received recommendations that included optimizing the entire category as well as the adjacent stuffing and gravy categories. By better allocating space to sales by category/segment, adjusting the assortment to include more incremental SKUs and aligning the shelf to fit Idahoan?s consumer decision tree, the retailer was able to take the category from ?7.9 percent in dollars to 7.7 percent, per Nielsen. Additionally, Idahoan introduced the award-winning six-SKU Steak-house Premium Casserole line, featuring flavor profiles previously unavailable in dehydrated potatoes.

    Category Advisor
    Canned & Packaged Foods ? Dry Packaged Potatoes

    General Mills

    A perennial dry potato category leader, General Mills offered a broad portfolio of SKUs that brought users to the category and boosted sales for all products, innovation that supported consumer needs and built the category, convenient options that served busy families, and high-impact promotional strategies that engaged consumers. The drawing power and SKU variety of the Betty Crocker brand facilitated differentiation and kept the category invigorated and moving forward. Last year, General Mills conducted a full category shelf audit with Nielsen and leveraged Willard Bishop activity-based costing into total category profitability to validate its shelf set recommendations and help the company collaborate more effectively with retailers. Implementing these recommendations helped retailers improve shopability and ensured a fair share of space for the most productive SKUs, thereby driving sales. With four new products this year and conversion of nine SKUs to single-serve pouches, General Mills continued to bring loyal buyers to the category.

    Category Captain
    Canned & Packaged Foods ? Fruit Spreads

    J.M. Smucker Co.

    With a mature category such as fruit spreads, an evolving consumer base ? namely, Millennials ? has challenged the category in recent years. Smucker?s commissioned research to understand category dynamics, and found that there was a need for a quality product with pure, natural ingredients. Four new Natural Fruit Spreads were launched in 2013, followed by two Natural Squeeze items and two Natural jar line extensions. Smucker?s developed new shelving recommendations and shared them with retailers in a bid to propel category sales. A national retailer leveraged these insights and blocked the natural segment together, realizing significant segment growth post-reset. Smucker?s invested heavily in reaching the natural consumer at all touchpoints on the path to purchase, including social media. As a result of marketing support and strong trial and repeat rates, Smucker?s Natural has significantly boosted incrementality to the category, without compromising sales of core products and private label. Similar tactics helped another national retailer boost sales amid a push for health and wellness in center store categories.

    Category Captain
    Canned & Packaged Foods ? Nut Butters

    J.M. Smucker Co.

    Smucker?s pursued growth opportunities through its Jif brand to meet the evolving needs of consumers and shoppers. For example: Jif Whips, a whipped peanut butter product ideal for spreading and dipping, and offered in a unique tub package. Smucker?s commissioned category need-state research to expose an innovation white-space opportunity in nut butters. This research resulted in the introduction of Jif Whips, creating new usage opportunities for consumers. Smucker?s also executed improved retail execution and management strategies to ensure incremental category growth, including in-aisle signage, product packaging, and in-store demos that highlighted the product with ideal snacking carriers. The brand collaborated with key retailers to ensure optimal placement of shippers and display locations near the produce and snacking sections. The retail strategy drove in- and out-of-aisle merchandising that resulted in an increase in category purchase occasions. Smucker?s also revealed a need for a revised category shelving recommendation that included a snacking and convenience section within the shelf set. The brand heightened its collaboration with retailers to ensure optimization of the nut butter shelf set and an optimal shopper experience for category buyers.

    Category Captain
    Canned & Packaged Foods ? Seafood

    Bumble Bee Seafoods

    Continuing its leadership role in worldwide fishery sustainability, Bumble Bee Seafoods ventured into a partnership with the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in 2013. The partnership required retailer support, which Bumble Bee pursued via category management and other efforts. The manufacturer launched the Wild Selections program, featuring logos of both WWF and MSC on its product labels. Meanwhile, members of Bumble Bee?s sustainability and processing staff made joint presentations with the WWF to individual accounts to describe program details. Based on its analysis of consumer demographic data from IRI?s ShopperSights, follow-up meetings were held with targeted retailers in regions with high-index scores of shoppers who were environmentally oriented and predisposed to this segment. Bumble Bee recommended customized, full-section schematic placement using JDA?s Space Planning. The vendor stressed the long-term benefits of its program, noting that the short-term unit and dollar sales were projected to be small because of the relatively high prices (versus commodity-priced brands). Bumble Bee developed supportive materials, while also recommending merchandising tie-ins.

    Category Advisor
    Canned & Packaged Foods ? Shelf-stable Vegetables

    General Mills

    General Mills commissioned custom research to provide a strategic understanding of the entire meal aisle. ?Meal Aisle Vision? resulted in best-in-class findings and strategic thought leadership to help retailers better understand all categories within the aisle, including shelf-stable vegetables, a $5.1 billion category with broad reach, frequent trips and larger baskets. Additionally, a custom Nielsen panel study was performed for the Green Giant brand, to better understand the shelf-stable vegetable consumer and advise retailers how to maximize their performance around SKU optimization, best practice shelving, and merchandising effectiveness during holiday windows. General Mills recommended segmenting by vegetable type, with emphasis given to green beans, peas and corn, the major drivers within the category, by placing multiple facings at eye level and specialty items at the top of the shelf to maximize profitability.

    Category Captain
    Canned & Packaged Foods ? Soup

    General Mills

    The soup category, estimated at $5.6 billion, is the largest within the meal aisle. Over the past year, soup has experienced slight declines, with RTS soup down 2 percent. General Mills? RTS Progresso consistently outpaces both wet soup and RTS meal trends. The company focused on investing resources to understand the soup category, including drivers of growth. Its ?Soup?s On!? growth model launched in 2014, carrying the message that sustained category growth is driven by focusing first on the fundamentals, then growth drivers and finally differentiators. Activation against this plan yielded 3 percent to 4 percent category growth for General Mills? best-in-class retailers.

    Category Captain
    Commercial Baked Goods

    Flowers Foods

    Flowers Foods worked to manage the changes hitting the commercial baked goods category, while helping deliver strong leadership and growth for its retailer partners. Before Hostess? exit from the market in November 2012, Flowers? fresh packaged bread dollars were up 9 percent, while the category was down 0.4 percent. Year to date through August 2014, Flowers continued to achieve strong growth, up 7.8 percent in sales. Nature?s Own, now available to more than 80 percent of the U.S. population, offers the top three best-selling loaves of bread. The company also has a brand powerhouse in Wonder, which it acquired in July 2013 during the Hostess liquidation. Meanwhile, Flowers launched Cobblestone Bread Company (CBC), a line of premium breads and rolls targeting Millennials, and has strategically used social media to connect with this consumer group. Using automated scripts and analysis tools, Flowers has optimized retailers? shelf configuration and assortment at store level. In addition, the company gave its retail partners impartial business recommendations, based on consumer insights from various sources.

    Category Captain
    Condiments & Dressings ? Mayonnaise

    Unilever

    The $1.8 billion mayonnaise and whipped dressing category is on the decline, with negative growth this past year, and while Unilever?s brands outperformed the category, there?s still more ground to be gained. But Unilever?s equity-building initiatives demonstrated mastery of the category and success in leveraging key opportunities for growth, such as a multiyear recipe strategy and a focus on better-for-you variants (such as mayo with olive oil, showing strong growth); quality ingredients; and squeeze-bottle packaging. Unilever provided strong shelving guidance to give visibility to its fastest-moving jar, Hellmann?s 30-ounce Real Mayonnaise. The company worked with retailers to move mayo out from under pourable salad dressings and give it a full vertical block, which provided an opportunity to move the squeeze bottle to eye level and capture more sales with this convenient, more profitable form. Creating distinct shelving segmentation allowed the consumer to see value in both of these formats, driving baskets up an incremental $5 for dual users of jar and squeeze forms. Retailers adopting the new shelving saw strong category growth ? just what center store needs.

    Category Captain
    Confections

    Ferrero Rocher

    Premium chocolate accounts for a modest 10 percent of candy sales, but a more impressive 25 percent of total candy growth. Yet the category is underdeveloped in food and mass retailers, according to Ferrero Rocher. In the past year, Ferrero Rocher supported a category development initiative to identify strategies and plans to increase premium chocolate sales in the food channel, ?Go for the GOLD.? The program was built on an objective, fact-based foundation ranging from trade probes and retail discovery, to shopper insights and path-to-purchase research, along with advanced analytics. Edgewood Consulting Group was a major partner in this research. GOLD has four key elements: Growth (look for growth opportunities, such as gift-ready packaging, new products and multiple sizes); Organize (shelve the premium chocolate section, based on shopper insights); Leverage power brands; and Develop (work on plans to implement best practices to capture the sales opportunity). Retailers that adopted the GOLD principles experienced higher sales rates.

    Category Captain
    Convenient Wholesome Foods

    General Mills

    Convenient wholesome foods (CWF), made up of grain, fruit, and toaster pastries, represents about 30 percent of the $16 billion cereal aisle. General Mills strove to drive category growth through objective category insights, innovation and brand support, and fact-based shelf strategies. As consumers continue to gravitate toward better-for-you snacking, the grain segment is taking center stage. Specifically, grain bar consumption has grown by 94 percent over the past 10 years, which is more than double, followed by fruit snacks (up 44 percent). General Mills holds the largest grain share and has grown dollar share versus last year. As category leader, General Mills continued to drive sustainable innovation. The company launched Nature Valley Breakfast Biscuits in January, followed by Fiber One Streusel Bars in June. Meanwhile, its category management team continued to recommend best-in-class shelving principles, including space expansion for the grain snack category. Retailers that expanded this space saw an increase in grain category sales rates of more than 23 percent.

    Category Advisor
    Convenient Wholesome Foods

    Kellogg Co.

    Kellogg continues to be a hungry No. 2 in the $3.13 billion wholesome snack category, with a 25.7 percent dollar share. Constructed from multiple studies, the company?s Framework for Growth enables its snacks team to devise customer-specific tactics targeting key shopper segments. To capture available upside in bars, Kellogg collaborated with multiple parties to grow the category through a focus on the fundamentals, leading with a health-to-indulgence shelf flow, while learning laboratories ensured that investments in future growth provided appropriate direction to retail partners. To date, 36 percent of the marketplace is using this framework. Through its partnership with In Context Solutions, Kellogg visualized, tested and implemented new shopper-based shelf-merchandising strategies, groundbreaking aisle fixtures and a more efficient planogram room process. Meanwhile, in the area of product innovation, Nutri-Grain Harvest, building upon handheld breakfast insights, drove incremental growth, with 12.3 percent of sales coming from exclusive households.

    Category Captain
    Cookies & Crackers

    Kellogg Co.

    Kellogg?s Keebler Simply Made cookies met consumers? desire for ?the next best thing to homemade,? while Keebler Pitter Patter cookies expanded options in a category dependent on variety-seeking shoppers. The company tested retailer programs to overcome barriers to purchase and developed customized decks for key customers. Kellogg?s Cheez-It Grooves was a primary driver of sustainable innovation that built upon an emerging cracker growth segment, hand to mouth, leading to 16.2 percent category expansion. For the on-the-go segment, the company introduced four SKUs of sweet and savory Kellogg?s Cups, merchandised in displays, register racks, cooler toppers, dump bins and sidekick racks, as well as the traditional cookie/cracker aisle. Kellogg also discovered that top-performing retailers had three key on-the-go shelving priorities: allocating 16 feet to this growing segment, blocking products vertically by occasion and locating the section at the end of the cookie/cracker aisle.

    Category Advisor
    Cookies & Crackers

    General Mills

    The emerging better-for-you cookie segment comprises $888 million and is growing at 4.8 percent over last year. The increased consumer interest in more nutritious snacking means that such items will outpace total food growth over the next 10 years at a 5.4 percent projected growth rate. What consumers seek in better-for-you snacks includes ingredients they can recognize and pronounce, natural/organic items, and portion and calorie control. Realizing that the key to a successful snack product is threefold ? taste, health and convenience ? General Mills made its first foray into the segment with the Fiber One Cookie. As the Fiber One consumer is actively trying to lose/manage weight, the single-serve, fiber-dense treat was a logical choice. Launched in June 2014, the item has already managed to rack up $5 million in sales. Through category research and consumer insights, General Mills and its retail partners are positioned for growth in this growing segment.

    Category Captain
    Desserts

    General Mills

    The $1.8 billion dessert category has experienced flat growth in recent years, but dollar share leader General Mills worked hard to sweeten the business via new studies to better understand dessert trends, consumers and shoppers. This research includes new and more robust path-to-purchase work looking beyond desserts to the broader sweet-craving need state, a dessert mix category and baking aisle consumer segmentation study, and a new Nielsen dessert assortment study and corresponding assortment tool. To assist retailers for the 2014 holiday season, General Mills refined its bake center merchandising guidance to include a retailer-specific assortment recommendation for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. The occasion-based set continued to be a best-in-class shelf set, incorporated into roughly 75 percent of planograms. Meanwhile, General Mills continued to influence retailers to optimize the baking aisle, key adjacencies and aisle anchors. This year, the company introduced 16 new items to build on its innovation platform.

    Category Captain
    Ethnic Foods

    General Mills

    Shelf-stable Mexican food is a $4.6 billion category with steady growth: It has a two-year compound annual growth rate of 2 percent. The category is a strong contributor to the meal aisle as the second-largest category in dollar sales, and the profit leader. General Mills, maker of the Old El Paso brand, brought forth insights through resources, including its recent ?Explore Mexican 3.0.? This category plan focuseed on three key principles that are refined annually: market trends, consumer research and shelf audits. General Mills advised its retailer partners to implement one Mexican destination with a ?vertical occasion-based? shelf set, optimize distribution to reflect regional consumption patterns, and leverage meal solutions merchandising to increase Mexican household consumption. Meanwhile, the company provided category leadership through product innovation. In 2013, General Mills debuted the Stand ?N Stuff Soft Tortilla & Dinner Kit. Building off the success of that launch, an additional dinner kit offering was introduced in July.

    Category Captain
    Ethnic Foods

    Hormel Foods/MegaMex

    Hormel Foods and MegaMex Foods, its joint venture with leading Mexican food brand Herdez, are deeply invested in the ethnic food segment and collaborate with retail partners to grow their business. The manufacturers? category management teams conducted two studies to support shopper needs and build sales overall in the ethnic food segment. A community alignment study drove the link between the regional origins of Mexican consumers living in the United States and products that appealed to their specific regional tastes and preferences, resulting in better marketing and, ultimately, driving sales. For one Mid-Atlantic retailer, the study helped boost pepper sales and also provided insights on preparation and usage for certain key categories in specific regions, to develop relevant merchandising vehicles. Hormel and MegaMex found new ways to build category volume and incremental items in the basket by expanding authentic Mexican-focused ?snacking solutions? in the chip aisle. Additionally, a Mexican aisle study revealed appropriate aisle/category adjacencies and the shopper decision process, quantifying the ?size of the prize? for each level of change to make it actionable for the retailer.

    Category Captain
    Free-from Foods

    Enjoy Life

    Enjoy Life?s consumer-centric approach has helped the company maintain a leading brand position in allergy-friendly, or ?free-from,? foods, for the past 12 years. Enjoy Life has also supported the category?s growth by working closely with retailers, using a combination of analog and digital tools to provide information on ingredients, product variety and technology. Through geo-location partnerships, Enjoy Life could pinpoint where its products reside, down to the individual SKU at a specific retailer. The technology allowed the company to offer consumers incentivizing POS discounts via smartphones. All of this drove traffic into retailers? stores and helped grow category sales. The analog/digital approach allowed Enjoy Life?s retail partners to experience 50 percent sales growth in 2013, according to the company.

    Category Captain
    Meat Snacks

    Jack Link?s

    Jack Link?s teamed with several grocers to perform an opportunity gap analysis showing gaps versus other classes of trade for meat snacks. Based on that data, the company developed custom assortment recommendations. One was to offer pantry-loading larger bag sizes unavailable in other channels; Jack Link?s suggested adding bag sizes above 8 ounces in its Original Beef Jerky, Teriyaki Beef Jerky and Turkey Jerky varieties. Following this advice, a Southeastern grocery chain added Jack Link?s 9-ounce bags to its assortment. Now the chain?s meat snacks are growing at 43 percent, while Jack Link?s is increasing at 59.8 percent. Another recommendation was to offer more alternative proteins such as turkey and pork, since they have a healthy profile and provide satiation. A Western regional grocery chain that adopted this recommendation has seen exponential growth of its alternative-protein meat snack business ? Jack Link?s turkey products are up 156.9 percent at this chain alone.

    Category Advisor
    Natural & Organic Foods

    General Mills

    General Mills helped retailers drive growth in natural and organic foods across several store categories, including RTE cereal, canned vegetables and salty snacks. Its Cascadian Farm label is the top organic RTE cereal brand and also drives growth in granola and nutrition bars. The company?s niche foodie brand, Muir Glen Organic Tomatoes, has realized healthy growth over last year through such features as celebrity chef endorsements and successful recipe-based social media activity. The company?s clean-label snack foods, including its Food Should Taste Good brand, drove category growth in popcorn, veggie chips, and corn and tortilla chips. General Mills? Small Planet Foods Division invested in research to assist retailers in better understanding key categories and provided guidance to ensure in-store activities delivered increased sales, higher category penetration and higher cross-category purchases. Turnkey category platforms focused on placement, distribution and productivity, while category management consumer insights tools were used to better understand consumer behavior.

    Category Captain
    Salty Snacks

    Kraft Foods Group

    With snack nuts and seeds seeing some of the highest growth in the salty snack and smarter snacking/wholesome snacking segments, Kraft decided to capitalize on this fact to double the snack nut and seed in-aisle business by 2020, for $7 billion in total U.S. growth. Realizing that long-term growth begins at the shelf, the company reinforced such core fundamentals as vertical brand blocking, horizontally blocking by nut type, leveraging signpost brands and reducing clutter through optimization. Kraft?s national calls and road shows then made the case for the effectiveness of a shelf reset. In response, many retailers nationwide followed the company?s lead. For the full year 2013, dollar growth grew 1 percent for the category, 1.4 percent for Kraft?s Planters brand and 4.5 percent for retail brands. Comparatively, year to date through July, the category grew 4.3 percent, with Planters up 3.7 percent and retail brands up 3.3 percent.

    Category Captain
    Salty Snacks

    Flagstone Foods

    Ann?s House of Nuts, an operating company of Flagstone Foods, has been in the private brand trail mix business for more than 40 years. Based on consumer research the company conducted in 2012, it developed category segmentation to help drive assortment insights and innovation. It also gained great insight into package types and sizes, as well as category usage. Last year, a team from Ann?s House of Nuts met with a regional grocery chain that wanted to focus and reinvent its existing private-brand trail mix business. Ann?s House of Nuts recommended a base assortment and subsequently continued to drive additional items. The retailer created a more prominent trail mix section adjacent to snack nuts, and supported the category with TPR and feature and display merchandising. An analysis of current consumption trends showed the retailer?s trail mix category was up 18.2 percent in dollar sales, driven by its own label, which increased 132.1 percent.

    Category Advisor
    Salty Snacks

    General Mills

    Consumers have more interest in better-for-you snacks, which expected to outpace total food growth over the next 10 years. To help retailers capitalize, General Mills brought capabilities and excitement to the category through consumer insights, shelf enhancements and new products, including Chex Mix Popped, a mix of butter-flavored popcorn, corn and wheat Chex pieces, stick pretzels, and chocolate-flavored candies, offering 50 percent less fat than regular potato chips. Chex Mix was fully engaged in the social sphere, with more than 1.8 million Facebook fans and 13,000 Twitter followers. Best-in-class shelving improved shopability, variety and assortment to drive additional category growth. General Mills worked to give customers fresh new ideas and improve speed to market by experimenting with different packages, sizes and flavors across channels.

    Category Advisor
    Salty Snacks

    Kellogg Co.

    A standout of Kellogg?s salty snack lineup is Pringles, which consistently grows share by driving incremental consumption through on-trend flavor offerings like bacon and sriracha, and expanding its user base through such innovations as Pringles Tortilla Chips and Pringles Stix. While the overall category grew 2 percent through 2014, Pringles was up nearly 5 percent. In response to customer requests, Kellogg developed The Aisle of the Future, which organizes the salty snack aisle according to shoppers? preference: by segment or type. The company also made recommendations for the alternate placement of snack items in both large and small grocery formats. Through these insights, many retailers reconsidered the placement of high-penetration snacks in front-of-store locations, realizing significant sales gains. Additionally, the company?s product flow and signage solution, which clearly highlighted the section?s parameters, as well as which items could be found there, drove meaningful sales gains at a national retailer.

    FroZeN Foods

    Category Advisor
    Baked Goods

    General Mills

    While frozen baked goods (FBG) is a relatively small category (about 4 percent of the frozen department in dollar sales), it has a big impact. When FBG is purchased, the basket ring outpaces total frozen, dairy and dry grocery basket ring averages. General Mills drew on internal cross-functional expertise, coupled with third-party insights, to provide its retail partners with recommendations that delivered maximized results. Proprietary capabilities enabled the company to deliver retailer-specific counsel on layout, space and adjacencies that maximized frozen department sales rates. By aligning categories that promote cross-purchase and by separating high-penetration categories, retailers could create a push-pull effect through the aisle to encourage impulse purchase and build the basket. General Mills leveraged its successful Pillsbury brand to promote Grands! Freezer-to-Oven Biscuits through digital media, message stream and a word-of mouth campaign. Media spend increased, and communication revolved around food ideas, holiday messaging and increasing new product awareness.

    Category Captain
    Breakfast

    Kellogg Co.

    Although the overall frozen food business is declining, frozen breakfast contributes to 20 percent of the department?s growth dollars year to date, one of only five growing frozen categories. Kellogg?s iconic Eggo brand represents the point of entry into frozen breakfast, with the highest trial (43.8 percent) and exclusive base of households (40.3 percent) in the category, as well as the strongest repeat rate, at more than 30 percent. A Nielsen Category Market Structure Audit uncovered insights regarding the importance of segmentation in handheld sandwiches. By capitalizing on the healthy handheld segment, Kellogg?s Special K brand attracted female shoppers who previously wouldn?t buy breakfast sandwiches. Further innovations included Eggo?s first handheld entrées and the brand?s Thick & Fluffy Chocolate Minis ? the first all-chocolate waffles introduced in the category. Additionally, a health-and-wellness trigger study led to customized decks at top retailers, as well as relevant insights specific to Hispanic consumers.

    Category Advisor
    Breakfast

    General Mills

    Frozen breakfast outpaces all other frozen department categories in unit growth, second only to desserts/fruit/toppings in dollar growth. Extensive merchandising and pricing studies helped General Mills develop the most effective and realistic strategies for each of its retail customers. The company?s Pillsbury Toaster Strudel, which rolled out fun limited-edition flavors and more real fruit in its fruit SKUs, is the top driver of frozen breakfast incremental volume. When Toaster Strudel is in the cart, basket ring is 119 percent higher than when it?s not. Since convenience is key in the category, Pillsbury?s Heat-N-Go product line, offering consumers a pre-flavored, portion-controlled, microwave-and-go morning solution at a $1 price point, proved highly incremental to the category, appealing to price-sensitive shoppers. Additionally, the brand capitalized on strong savory-segment growth by investing in the Toaster Scrambles pastry line, adding 50 percent more meat, better-tasting cheese and more filling, as well as two new flavors.

    Category Advisor
    Entrées

    General Mills

    With sales of more than $14 billion and 93 percent household penetration, the frozen multiserve entrée category is important to manufacturers and retailers. General Mills led the subcategory through new item introductions, comprehensive consumer support and category management capabilities that drove the entire category. The company launched Old El Paso Frozen Mexican Entrées in August 2013 and delivered three new line extensions in September 2014. A robust consumer campaign included digital, in-store sampling, FSIs, Box Tops for Education and a TV campaign. A full suite of tools, capabilities and insights gave retailers quantifiable opportunities and actionable go-to-market strategies, benefiting retailers and overall category health. An assortment optimization tool provided the ability to model the category impact of changing item mix. Using these insight-driven tools, General Mills worked with retailers to identify specific opportunities to drive loyalty, increase trips and retain more dollars.

    Category Advisor
    Entrées

    Pinnacle Foods

    The multiserve dinner/entrées category is an important section in the frozen aisle, with 51 percent penetration, yet household reach and sales have declined. Challenges: heaviest buyers leaving the category, due to small serving sizes and lack of variety; limited family-size options; and shoppers no longer seeing value in premium items versus alternatives. Last March, Pinnacle Foods launched Birds Eye Voila! Family Size products, generating $5.1 million in new sales for the segment, 27 percent of them incremental to the category. Driving a renewed interest in the mature category, Pinnacle received positive feedback and results from retailers and consumers praising the convenience, quality, portion size and flavor selection.

    Category Captain
    Ice Cream & Novelties

    Unilever

    There has been impressive growth in super-premium packaged ice cream and frozen novelties, chiefly attributable to unique innovations. Unilever, with its Breyers, Ben & Jerry?s and Magnum brands, drove growth across the category. With the launch of its Breyers Gelato Indulgences line, Unilever created a shelving solution, implemented by most major retailers, that placed all gelato brands in a destination door, helping drive overall gelato sales growth into triple digits for the year. Also contributing to super-premium segment growth was the launch of Ben & Jerry?s Cores, which combined two flavors of ice cream on either side of the pint, with a flavored ribbon in the center. On the novelties side, Unilever introduced several items under its Magnum brand, including a Double line produced with proprietary technology. Unilever also created shelf trays, frame clings and in-store media to call out innovations that brought new shoppers to the category.

    Category Captain
    Meat Substitutes

    Kellogg Co.

    MorningStar Farms (MSF) is the brand leader within the frozen meat substitute category and, more broadly, within veggie food, natural/organic and gluten-free prepared entrées. In 2014, MSF introduced seven SKUs, with innovation driving a little more than half (52 percent) of total growth dollars for the brand and generating $14.6 million in frozen meat substitute sales. The company has pioneered in-aisle solutions for retailers for merchandising meat substitutes adjacent to natural/organic and gluten-free entrées, rather than as a stand-alone category adjacent to various less-relevant categories. Retailers that adopted a Healthy Living destination within frozen experienced category velocities 10 percent greater than those that stocked the product as a stand-alone category. Kellogg?s study to identify, prioritize and resolve barriers to purchasing MSF resulted in deep understanding of the barriers for nonusers of the category, supporting the company?s aisle recommendation to shelve all relevant products in a Healthy Living destination.

    Category Captain
    Pizza

    General Mills

    Consumption trends have driven frozen pizza to be a $4.5 billion ?anchor? category in the frozen department, boasting high penetration, high purchase frequency and strong incrementality. General Mills? Totino?s brand, one of the category leaders, is among the most productive within the segment. This year, General Mills offered a variety of insights for retailers on how frozen pizza delivers a great value. Fixing the mix and recommending optimal assortment were two ways the company advised retailers to position the category for growth. In addition, Totino?s continued to invest heavily in Hispanic marketing, since the brand has the leading Hispanic consumer spend in both the pizza and frozen snack categories. General Mills created a three-step process to help retailers ensure they carry the most productive assortment to drive category growth. The process includes understanding regional demand (an assortment tool helps retailers make regional distribution decisions), optimizing the shelf and stocking the most incremental SKUs.

    Category Captain
    Snacks

    General Mills

    Over the past year, the $4.5 billion frozen snack category has grown 1.2 percent in dollar sales, slightly outpacing the frozen department. General Mills, maker of the Totino?s brand, is one of the leaders of this large, complex category. Through extensive use of consumer segmentation, point-of-sale analytics, Willard Bishop ABC analysis, DemandTec, the Nielsen Shelf Audit tool, Demand Transfer, the ?Nielsen Assortment Study,? consumer research, virtual store technology and the ?Path to Purchase Study,? its category management team delivered thought leadership to retailers. In April, the company released ?Fire Up Frozen Snacks 2.0,? an update of its inaugural frozen snack growth story in 2013. With these insights, General Mills created a growth framework for customers to align their priorities against and take a targeted approach on how to ignite growth within the category. Meanwhile, in July, the company launched Totino?s Bold Rolls, which ended up being 20 percent to 30 percent incremental to the brand.

    Category Captain
    Vegetables

    General Mills

    As the most frequently consumed category in the frozen aisle, frozen vegetables is critical to the department?s success. Category leader General Mills, which produces the iconic Green Giant brand, helped its retailer partners grow the segment by working to develop innovation to drive future growth, and by investing heavily to support the present category. In October 2012, General Mills released ?Vitalize Frozen Veg,? a category growth story that equipped retailers with shopper insights and key action steps to unlock growth. Meanwhile, in response to consumer concerns about a ?confusing shelf and packaging,? Green Giant launched new packaging, and encouraged retailers to increase shelf capacity by changing their boxed vegetable portfolio to a vertical orientation. The company brought a full suite of tools, capabilities and insights to its customers, including an assortment study conducted with Nielsen to dig deeper into incrementality within the category. Last but not least, Green Giant?s consumer spending increased significantly.

    Category Advisor
    Vegetables

    Pinnacle Foods

    Working in a category with fading household penetration, Pinnacle Foods aimed to improve traffic to a frozen aisle that?s not part of many younger shoppers? routines. It?s perceived as confusing and hard to shop, with limited innovation and overly processed, poor-quality products. Pinnacle?s answer was to bring the appeal of fresh produce to frozen vegetables, a concept it calls ?Froduce.? The company launched shopper-ready packing products to help create a shopper-friendly section, converted its Recipe Ready items to standup bags for better shopability, partnered on campaigns to promote the fresh benefits of frozen products and encourage veggie consumption to combat childhood obesity, and leveraged assortment optimization tools to customize product mix for each retailer?s needs. Efforts resulted in significant awareness for the category and positive feedback from retailers, as well as consumers, who praised the products? enhanced shopability, freshness, quality and value.

    HEALTH, BEAUTY & WELLNESS

    Category Captain
    Antiperspirants/Deodorants

    Unilever

    The antiperspirant/deodorant category represents nearly $2.9 billion in retail volume, but from a household penetration perspective, the category has remained relatively flat, hovering below 80 percent over the past two years. Overall engagement in the category remains quite low. To help mitigate this, Unilever made a concerted and consistent effort to develop, hone and deliver insights-based shelving guidelines to its trade partners. In spite of a confusing environment, consumers continued to seek out ?new? and ?more? within the category, and manufacturers responded by providing incentives to trade up. This year, Unilever launched a female line extension, Dove Advanced Care, creating an entirely new niche and price tier within the category. In the spirit of continuing to ?premiumize? the category, the line brought specific shelving requirements: Unilever was able to land Dove Advanced Care in the desired eye-level position in 90 percent of its key retailers. This, coupled with the innovation?s strong communication plan, has furthered long-term success of the category.

    Category Advisor
    Balanced Nutrition/Diabetes Management

    Abbott Nutrition

    Abbott Nutrition, maker of the Ensure and Glucerna brands, developed best-in-class category management relationships with retailers to help them grow the adult nutrition/diabetes management business. Currently valued at $1.1 billion, the category has increased 4.8 percent during the latest 52-week period versus a year ago. At one national retail account, Abbott proposed a ?multiples strategy? that included a promotional offer to drive units per visit within the category, particularly among the retailer?s best shoppers, as well as an initiative to promote trade-up and cross-purchasing from regular to specialty items. As a result of its efforts, the retailer?s total adult/diabetes management category increased 1.4 percent in units/visit, while visits/household grew 2.7 percent. In another example of Abbott?s hard work, the company helped improve the shopability of a retailer?s balanced nutrition section. Its newly merchandised set fully rolled out in January, and by midyear, the category was up 7.8 percent, versus a 4.3 percent increase in the total market.

    Category Advisor
    Cosmetics

    Procter & Gamble

    The cosmetics category has had a major feature and display focus on new items, due to the trend-driven nature of the business. This presents a challenge for manufacturers and retailers, as there?s significant turnover of base brands. Procter & Gamble?s Cover Girl brand set out to find a new, differentiated way to link the brand, its key consumer target and a key pop-culture event to drive new and existing business. Creating a retailer ?hook? to drive multiple items in the basket (buy $20 items, get movie ticket), P&G created the first-ever new and base activation, leveraging the launch of the ?Hunger Games? movies across a customizable marketing plan. The plan drove category expansion; 10 percent of total volume came from current buyers purchasing more, mascara sales rose, and category base business consumption was driven disproportionately. Further, the brand closed its share-of-display gap during a typically dark period for nonholiday display. The plan attracted new shoppers, increased sales/units per basket and drove brand share leadership to its highest share weeks for the fiscal year.

    Category Captain
    Foot Care

    Merck Consumer Care

    Maker of the Dr. Scholl?s brand, Merck Consumer Care drove the success of the $1.3 billion-plus foot care category by investing in category, channel, consumer and shopper insights. Merck undertook a comprehensive consumer segmentation study identifying key consumer profiles, need states, and foot health goals and attitudes, along with product usage. Additionally, the company?s marketing and sales teams uncovered various opportunities to improve the shopping experience. In response, Merck and Dr. Scholl?s adopted a consumer-centric marketing approach and a shopper-centric merchandising strategy to retain current shoppers while attracting new ones to such core sub-brands as Massaging Gel and P.R.O. (Pain Relief Orthotic). These core businesses were then complemented by new consumer-driven platforms, Active Series and Work. Merck further transformed the category through such endeavors as the rebranding of DreamWalk, a line targeting women-specific needs. As a result of such efforts, Merck maintained a strong 43.6 percent share of the category.

    Category Advisor
    Hair Care

    Unilever

    In a marketplace where hair care is saturated with countless product choices, Unilever invigorated growth in a maturing category. Its trend-conscious TRESemmé Keratin Smooth line contributed a quarter of overall category growth, with products designed to deliver a salon experience at home. The line was able to grow a somewhat saturated category, delivering double-digit growth within four classes of trade ? food, drug, mass and value ? with some of the most significant lift at grocery. Additionally, Unilever leveraged a salon trend for Moroccan argan oil by launching its Suave Professionals Moroccan Infusion line at retail. The line became highly incremental in the overall category, both through category expansion and new buyers. The launch was supported by a robust 360 campaign: sampling/coupons, FSIs, in-store displays and shopper marketing, advertising and PR, digital and social media, and a sponsorship with NBC?s ?Fashion Star.?

    Category Captain
    OTC Analgesics

    Bayer HealthCare

    Bayer HealthCare developed a new vision for its retail partners, theorizing that the greatest growth within the analgesic category will come from focusing on health state opportunities. The company encouraged retailers to leverage critical shopper insights and create activation strategies around health states that lend themselves to solution selling. Its extensive research identified three specific health states that provide the most potential: heart health, arthritis and sleep. For all three health conditions, Bayer conducted condition-based assortment research that identified the specific items that were of greatest interest to shoppers. Several retailers have begun to implement customized-solution selling approaches that best meet the unique needs of their shopper base. Although there are many contributing factors, Bayer HealthCare contends that its health state framework played an important role in rejuvenating category growth in 2013. Following three years of virtually zero dollar sales growth, analgesics grew 4.9 percent, according to IRI.

    Category Captain
    Skin/Sun Care

    Merck Consumer Care

    Merck Consumer Care, maker of the Coppertone, Solarcaine and Bain de Soleil brands, invested in consumer and shopper research for an effective go-to-market strategy in the sun care category. To keep innovating in this highly dynamic category, Merck conducted extensive consumer attitudinal research finding that sun care usage is heavily driven by occasion. This became the foundation for launching the lightweight Coppertone Clearly Sheer line in convenient lotion, spray and travel forms. Clearly Sheer focuses on need-based occasions such as Sunny Days and Beach & Pool, creating new cross-purchasing and basket-building opportunities. Merck?s innovation investment yielded great results: The $1.2 billion sun care category was up 1.5 percent in multioutlet retailers, according to IRI, despite a difficult early season due to a cool, damp spring. Additionally, Coppertone maintained its top position in sun care through engaging consumer activation strategies that spurred sales during the peak summer purchase occasion.

    Category Captain
    Vitamins/Supplements

    Pharmavite

    Through new consumer research, Pharmavite identified that most consumers shopping the vitamin category were not only searching for a specific product, but also seeking health benefit claims. In response, Pharmavite developed a new proprietary need-state landscape design that collapses the category?s 80-plus segments into 19 simple health solution platforms. Pharmavite also created six distinct consumer segments based on age, gender, attitudes toward health and wellness, and category purchase motivations. The company helped its retailer partners understand need states specific to their markets, providing insight that fed development of assortment, pricing, planogram and promotional strategies. Category sales trended six points higher in stores with the need state/health condition shelf segmentation, versus stores without this merchandising segmentation change. With these strategies and product innovation, Pharmavite helped deliver a category sales trend 440 basis points greater among its retailer partners.

    Category Captain
    Vitamins/Supplements

    U.S. Nutrition

    Maintaining key category relationships with major grocery retailers across the country, U.S. Nutrition relied on deep consumer insights and continual product innovation. The company strove to bring in new users and further engage current users in a flat marketplace. U.S. Nutrition identified a need by younger consumers for new delivery forms, resulting in the launch of Nature?s Bounty Hair Skin & Nails in gummy form, which helped to create a new segment for younger women consumers and is currently ranked No. 1 in trial among dozens of new items at a leading U.S. grocery chain. The company?s Sundown Naturals brand introduced an innovative line of gluten-free gummies, growing at triple digits, with a fifth of volume incremental to the category, and attracting new, younger users. U.S. Nutrition partnered with a major West Coast grocer to develop a newly formatted health-and-wellness destination anchored in center store. Grounded in insights gleaned from consumer segmentation research, the new format is slated for continued rollout due to sales success versus results at traditional-format stores.

    Category Advisor
    Vitamins/Supplements

    Bayer HealthCare

    Vitamins, minerals and supplements (VMS) has been the fastest-growing category within total OTC, yet its growth has brought challenges. Bayer HealthCare worked with its retailer partners to navigate the process while growing sales and profitability. In the past year, Bayer developed several core principles to help guide decision-making across the category. A critical element of this framework was a deep understanding of consumer and shopper insights. Bayer commissioned several new studies to ensure that the principles and strategies developed were aligned with what both the shopper and retailer required for ongoing success. In the end, Bayer identified six guiding principles to help retailers and manufacturers effectively manage the category. Retailer response has been extremely positive. Although there are many factors that have helped sustain VMS gains, the effort helped the category grow 3.3 percent in dollar sales this past year.

    Perimeter

    Category Captain
    Baked Goods

    CSM Bakery Products

    In the past year, CSM Bakery Products has made significant investments to grow and strengthen its partnerships with its in-store bakery customers. With one grocery partner in particular, CSM provided category assessments with data from Nielsen Perishables Group, and developed strategies to drive profitable top-line growth. The regional chain needed category management expertise to boost its cake category market share. Specifically, the retailer wanted to drive traffic and increase shoppers? basket size. CSM identified opportunity gaps in the decorated cake and cupcake segments. The company recommended a redesign of decorated cakes, as well as a remerchandised cake case. It also stressed the importance of introducing new dessert cupcake varieties. Other ideas included a new promotional program and cake decorator training. After implementing the changes, the retailer saw decorated cakes jump 14.4 percent in dollars and 19.2 percent in units. Meanwhile, the dessert cake program increased 2.1 percent in dollars and 3.6 percent in units, with a market share gain of 1.1 percent. The cupcake program, for its part, gained 1.3 percent in market share, with an impressive 21.1 percent lift in dollar sales.

    Category Advisor
    Baked Goods

    Bakery Crafts

    Bakery Crafts took bakery ordering to the next level, modernizing retailers? category management capabilities in the process. The company recently introduced its iPad-based Bakery Ordering System (BOS), which allows customers to place orders 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Placed in the grocery bakery, the system enables a customer to place an order anytime, regardless of whether someone is working in the bakery department. The customer selects a cake design category, and then chooses a design from a variety of options. Once the customer has found the preferred cake design, she has the ability to further customize it. All of the information is stored electronically, so there are no more lost orders. The management portal for the system allows for total customization throughout the ordering and production process. Bakery managers are given access to system-generated reports ? a feature that wasn?t available to the bakery before. Since the application rollout, grocers that have implemented the BOS have seen double-digit growth in the sales of cakes/cupcakes.

    Category Captain
    Dairy ? Eggs

    Eggland?s Best

    Eggland?s Best LLC collaborated with a major national grocery chain to help grow the egg category 10 percent in dollars over the prior year. The specialty egg segment is up double that, at 20 percent. Eggland?s Best relied on a detailed analysis to share category information on a monthly basis, creating a real-time view of the category for the retailer?s category management team. The company used a total Nielsen data package, providing an in-depth but succinct summary of timely sales trend data and insight analysis of the egg brands in the category. Eggland?s Best also suggested a robust promotional strategy, as well as the Weekly Trend Analyzer, which quickly analyzed and identified weekly trends of every shell egg SKU that the retailer places on its shelf. Detailed reporting allowed the retailer to keep track of annual trends, and develop a robust promotional calendar that included promotions at special times of the year, such as holidays.

    Category Captain
    Dairy ? Margarine

    Unilever

    In an effort to revitalize the margarine segment, Unilever strove to change perceptions of the category so that margarine, like butter, could be perceived as simple and real. In a multiyear strategy, Unilever launched two SKUs with clean ingredient lists and expanded this initiative to the full I Can?t Believe It?s Not Butter line with a new simple formula, new packaging, and a focus on ?100% Taste, 0% Artificial Preservatives.? To accommodate this category ?revolution,? Unilever focused on assisting retail partners to align on three key opportunities: clear segmentation of margarine/spreads, butter and spreadable butter; improved brand blocking, as brand is a core consumer decision driver; and facing increases on the core 15 SKUs that drive half of category dollars. Unilever developed shelving concepts that achieved an enhanced shopping experience with scalable fixtures. The company sees a continuing opportunity to work with retail partners to spur additional category usage; efforts are already reversing a downward trend. Unilever worked to turn the tide of consumer perception to a more simple and real experience, and aims to continue growing baskets in the margarine segment.

    Category Captain
    Dairy ? Refrigerated Baked Goods

    General Mills

    General Mills? Pillsbury brand is the dollar share leader in the refrigerated baked goods (RBG) category. The brand helped its retailer partners succeed by providing industry-leading insights and capabilities to accelerate customer growth. For instance, the insights and learning from General Mills? path-to-purchase study led to the creation of the category growth story ?Re-Fresh Dough.? This program reinforced the importance of RBG while also demonstrating that significant growth is possible by focusing on three key areas: holidays, everyday usage and improved shopability. As the share leader in the category, Pillsbury made the category more shopable through packaging improvements. The brand also focused on reaching new households and educating Hispanic consumers about the category. In June, Pillsbury launched two new indulgent product lines: Pillsbury Melts and Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls.

    Category Captain
    Dairy ? Yogurt

    General Mills

    The yogurt category continues to be a catalyst for growth across the store, and General Mills? Yoplait brand played a significant role, with a focus on consumer insights, marketing and innovation. The category?s dollar sales were up an impressive 7.5 percent in 2013, and Nielsen estimated that it could grow another $2.5 billion by 2019. General Mills released a new yogurt category growth story in February 2014, which leveraged category insights to highlight opportunities to optimize the shelf set, assortment and merchandising. The key messages of the category growth story were to lead through expanding consumption, winning with all segments and driving growth with the Greek segment. In terms of product innovation, Yoplait launched new flavors in its Greek portfolio, as well as developing a mix-in line via a partnership with Hershey?s. In the kid segment, Yoplait continued to generate innovation by bringing kids? favorite characters to yogurt.

    Category Captain
    Deli ? Meat

    Dietz & Watson

    Dietz & Watson succeeded in category management by taking a specialized approach in each market, to cater to the needs of specific consumers. Through a variety of analytical tools, the company tailored protein assortments, deli meat display size and promotional strategies. Beginning in October 2013, Dietz & Watson formed an extensive partnership with a major regional retailer, with an emphasis on store-level assortment and staff development. To ensure optimal flavor, Dietz & Watson used fact-based consumer sales indexing (provided by Nielsen Spectra) to understand the demographics and lifestyles of shoppers at individual stores. The company also used point-of-sale store data to identify assortment opportunities and analyze growth and decline trends. Using consumer and sales performance data as an analytical framework, Dietz & Watson created unique store tiers to determine the amount of investment required to maximize deli sales at the store level. The company additionally invested in and led off-site training. Implementing the tiered program at the retailer resulted in 9.9 percent growth in the deli bulk meat category from January to July 2014.

    Category Captain
    Deli ? Prepared Foods

    Tyson Foods

    Leveraging its leadership in the growing prepared food category, the Tyson Deli team further developed its Tyson Deli 360 business review process to expand upon its category management, consumer, B2B and shopper marketing programs. The deli team focused efforts on continuous improvement of its business review process, including industry trends, retailer performance benchmarking, causal analysis, opportunity identification and growth strategy. Its newest tool is the Tyson Deli GAP Study, which is designed to help retailers better understand how they stack up against competitors. It provides evaluative tools to compare operations and results within a retailer?s own organization and establishes for the industry the marketing and operational elements most closely tied to industry-leading sales performance. The study focused on 500 best-in-class stores across the country, divided into four demand/sales performance levels. Further, the study collected thousands of pictures and data points to document in-stock compliance, in-store POS, pricing, staffing and department adjacencies. This allowed the deli team to identify common elements of high-performing stores; provide retailers with quantitative data on their banners? performance, and recommendations for improvement; and suggest areas of opportunity.

    Category Advisor
    Refrigerated Meat Snacks

    Kraft Foods Group

    By addressing consumers? need for portable products, their desire for healthier foods, and the widely noted increase in snacking, Kraft?s Oscar Mayer P3 Portable Protein Pack capitalized on major CPG trends and current retail environments. Consumers have long eaten packaged meats as snacks, including meal combos, but there were few true snacks in the meat case until P3, which combines three forms of protein in one easy-to-consume package. The emerging protein snack category, spearheaded by Kraft, represents a $19 billion storewide opportunity over the next few years, according to Nielsen. Oscar Mayer has additional snack product launches planned for 2015, while a cross-business unit partnership with Planters nuts will further shape the category. In collaboration with retailers, Oscar Mayer is working to identify and carve out dedicated space for refrigerated meat snacks within the case, creating a new destination dedicated to the items, not just an adjacency to meal combos.

    Category Advisor
    Refrigerated Pasta & Sauces

    Rana Meal Solutions

    Rana made strides to awaken a sleepy category, and while we?d like to see deeper involvement in category management initiatives with grocers, we?re impressed by the potential this company presented for its retailer partners. Rana tied its ability to drive the category to six key platforms: unique artisan brand positioning, a new level of product quality, standup paper packaging, a larger pack size, unique flavor assortment and segmentation, and in-store demos. With national distribution in more than 10,000 stores and growing, Rana claimed that pasta category growth among its customers was double that of others. As a brand, Rana showed impressive growth, received multiple accolades for its products and brought innovation to a stagnant category. We look forward to continued success from Rana and seeing how it takes its retailer partnerships to the next level.

    Category Advisor
    Refrigerated Dip

    Del Monte Fresh Produce

    Del Monte Fresh helped a Southeastern retailer create excitement in the perimeter with a special program based on Del Monte Fresh?s new Guac product. Working with the sales team at Del Monte and decision-makers at the retail chain, the Del Monte category manager first defined the refrigerated dip category to indicate sales potential for guacamole. Based on IRI syndicated data, guacamole dollar sales grew year over year both nationally and regionally in the Southeast, so the bar was set high for Del Monte Fresh Guac. The category manager also executed monthly analysis from division- to SKU-level sales, and created category reviews for the retailer. Year to date ending July 2014, Del Monte dollar sales increased 37.6 percent ? a lift eight percentage points greater than its main competition at the retailer.

    Category Advisor
    Refrigerated Dip

    Wholly Guacamole

    Wholly Guacamole dips drive the refrigerated guacamole dip category, and the brand consistently outpaces category growth. The company launched a range of pack sizes for family, party and on-the-go use, with 2-ounce mini cups becoming the biggest growth driver by addressing convenience and portability trends. Marketing efforts included targeted web ads, traditional print, television media and direct consumer interaction through social media. Seasonal and holiday trade deals within retail, as well as cross-promotional POS and online promotions with other brands, furthered the brand?s reach. Cross-promotions with nonproduce items helped get the brand in front of the consumer in other areas of the store. Its success helped drive growth in the overall avocado category, while consumer education on the health benefits of avocados created a new generation of users.

    Category Advisor
    Refrigerated Salad Dressing

    Litehouse Foods

    Greek yogurt reshaped the yogurt category in fewer than four years, now making up nearly half of the products in the category. Litehouse Foods saw that consumers were looking to Greek yogurt to provide their families with higher-protein options, and identified an opportunity to create a salad dressing with a Greek yogurt base; Opa by Litehouse Greek yogurt salad dressing was the first such product on the market. Greek yogurt salad dressing has since grown to 2 percent of the refrigerated salad dressing (RSD) category, and is responsible for 52 percent of its dollar growth, with Opa accounting for 96 percent of that in the Greek yogurt RSD segment. Litehouse also supported the trade through demos, couponing and a strong consumer pull program. The company?s team of market analysts worked with its retail partners to provide the best product and schematic recommendations for their particular regions and target consumers.

    Category Captain
    Superpremium Juice

    Bolthouse Farms

    Over the past 12 months, Bolthouse Farms developed an innovative ?category blueprint? shelf space optimization for the super-premium juice (SPJ) category. SPJ experienced explosive growth, and shelf space management become a critical issue. For many retailers, the produce department where SPJ primarily resides hasn?t engaged in rigorous category management or shelf space optimization beyond the basic SKU rationalization and ?one in-one out? tactics. While shelf optimization can be difficult to implement, according to Bolthouse Farms, it yields higher category growth opportunities. With one of its first blueprint recommendations, despite shelf space reductions for Bolthouse Farms, a key Southeast retailer realized overall growth for the SPJ category and Bolthouse Farms. Looking forward, Bolthouse Farms recognizes that if category sales grow 15 percent year over year, the category will double in only four years. Therefore, the company is now working with a key national grocer and mass merchandiser to test two aspects of its category blueprint efforts: shelf space optimization and shelf space expansion.

    PERIMETER ? VARIABLE/FIXED-WEIGHT PRODUCE

    Category Advisor
    Avocados

    Del Monte Fresh Produce

    Del Monte Fresh Produce has been the exclusive supplier of Hass avocados to a Southeastern retailer over the past few years. Based on IRI syndicated data for year to date ending July 2014, dollar sales increased 15.8 percent versus the year-ago period. Del Monte Fresh attributed the positive results to a variety of initiatives, including a strategic ad calendar. The avocados were also featured in the retailer?s cooking program, which increased product and brand awareness. Meanwhile, Del Monte Fresh?s marketing efforts were supported by merchandising support at the retail level. Last but not least, a Del Monte Fresh merchandiser conducted store audits to assess product quality and check displays, and has continued to educate retail personnel on best practices.

    Category Captain
    Bananas

    Chiquita Brands

    According to Chiquita Brands, the best strategy for enhancing banana category management isn?t through a category-specific approach, but through the eyes of the shopper. In the past year, Chiquita commissioned the Total Shopper Study, which focused on understanding who is and isn?t buying bananas, to develop the right strategy for its retail partners. In one example, Chiquita identified an opportunity at a regional grocery chain where banana sales were declining under the current banana supplier. Based on Chiquita?s understanding of the consumer, the company hypothesized that the retailer was selling the wrong banana size. Chiquita?s research found that banana consumers prefer a banana finger measuring 8 inches to 9.5 inches. Trusting Chiquita?s expertise, the retailer asked the company to handle distribution across the entire chain. Since the switch, banana category volume declines have reversed, and the category has experienced 13.7 percent volume growth.

    Category Captain
    Berries

    Dole Fresh Vegetables

    As berries continued to play an important role in driving consumer traffic, Dole?s category management team focused on logistics, introduction of 4P category management and technology innovations to support its programs. Unfortunately, berries are susceptible to quality breakdown due to poor cold-chain management, as well as in-store handling. The addition of berries to Dole?s Full Service Solutions program enabled the vendor?s logistics department to provide almost half of the typical produce department sales with one common logistics solution. Introduction of 4P management was the top priority of Dole?s category management department. With significant changes in data availability ? including panel, demographic and scan ? Dole provided customized solutions per retailer cluster. Dole also increased its investment in data and technology, using the California Strawberry Commission?s price elasticity tool to maximize everyday retails, along with developing a promotion strategy tied to demand versus supply. After one retailer applied Dole?s recommendations on product, merchandising and ad support, its bushberries mix increased 5.5 points, resulting in a total category increase of 15 percent in dollars and 14.5 percent in units.

    Category Captain
    Fresh-cut Fruit

    Del Monte Fresh Produce

    In fiscal year 2013, Del Monte Fresh made a significant difference for a Midwestern grocer?s fresh-cut fruit category. The retailer?s sales had been flat compared with the previous year ? and, to compound matters, the cut fruit segment?s sales were underperforming compared with the market. Del Monte Fresh suggested a new program, based primarily on its products, to replace the retailer?s in-house program. To help facilitate the changeover, Del Monte Fresh?s category manager used several tools. Spectra categorized each store, based on demographic attributes, into cluster groups to determine what size each store?s fresh-cut fruit section should be. In addition, the data provider identified the stores with the greatest sales potential, determined by store size and shopper demographics, to optimize promotions and in-store displays. Meanwhile, Del Monte Fresh developed new planograms. The vendor is regularly evaluating the program, including the retailer?s POS and pitch data, which helps to identify slow-selling items, under- and overperforming stores, and, with respect to shrink, items experiencing heavy losses. Not surprisingly, the retailer has experienced solid category growth, with year-to-date sales through nine periods up 6 percent.

    Category Captain
    Fresh-packed Vegetables

    Dole Fresh Vegetables

    Based on its landmark 2014 ?Lettuce Interaction Study,? Dole Fresh Vegetables made significant changes in its fresh-packed business to address how consumers shop the category. Specifically, Dole relied on three key solutions: 1) redefining category roles, definitions, synergies and strategies on fresh-packed vegetables; 2) technology and data-driven solutions with new capabilities to use insights across retail; and 3) transportation and logistics solutions. The company helped retailers develop their strategies to better manage commodity vegetables alongside value-added offerings with integrated pricing, promotion and new product initiatives. Retailers employing Dole?s pricing initiatives demonstrated above-average returns (4.5 percent increase in shipments and 5.2 percent increase in retail sales dollars).

    Category Advisor
    Lettuce

    Green Giant Fresh

    By partnering with companies that share the same commitment to growing and packaging fresh produce every day, Green Giant Fresh (GGF) delivered industry knowledge and category expertise, benefiting both the trade and consumers. This year, GGF revitalized the lettuce category by introducing Little Gem Lettuce and Living Butter Lettuce to its line, which includes Iceberg, Green Leaf, Red Leaf, Romaine and Romaine Hearts. The Romaine Hearts package was recently updated for better on-shelf presence, with new graphics featuring serving suggestions, a QR code linking to helpful tips, and a larger window for more product visibility. Little Gem Lettuce, an exclusive European variety, offers a unique addition to produce departments as a first-of-its-kind snacking lettuce. At one retailer, following an in-store demo in July 2014, sales of Little Gems jumped more than 250 percent and elicited positive shopper feedback. Meanwhile, Living Butter Lettuce, packaged with its root ball attached, delivers longer shelf life and high quality, leading to less retail shrink, stable pricing and labor savings. Furthering transparency, consumers can scan on-pack QR codes to learn about where their food was grown, health benefits and preparation tips.

    Category Captain
    Mushrooms

    Monterey Mushrooms

    Asked by several of its retail partners to tie the profit-generating mushroom category into a department- or store-wide strategy, Monterey tailored solutions to meet the specific needs of each retailer. In one case, the retail partner wanted to determine how much it could increase purchases and overall pounds sold to its current mushroom customers. Monterey provided a promotional strategy that rotated key items through the course of 13 weeks, as a result of which units increased 16.7 percent (while the retailer?s market grew only 0.5 percent) and pounds increased 14.9 percent (while the market grew only 2 percent), with sales still coming in close to the retailer?s region?s average: 1.5 percent versus 1.4 percent for the region. A secondary goal was then set to determine best promotion retails; Monterey validated that staying between 8 percent to 16 percent off everyday retails maximized the retailer?s sales, profits, pounds and unit growth.

    Category Captain
    Packaged Salads

    Dole Fresh Vegetables

    Dole Fresh Vegetables has led the packaged salad category in achieving 9 percent growth, along with 22.7 percent brand growth, by relying on a mix of product innovation and retailer customization. In 2014, category growth was driven by the kit segment (26.4 percent); Dole considers itself the market leader. Meanwhile, Dole?s new Power Up Greens capitalized on the explosion of kale-based products, including salads. The vendor?s ?One Dole? approach of integrating ?total produce? across product platforms resulted in customized solutions for key retailers. Dole re-evaluated its custom 4P approach, recognizing that no two retailers are the same in terms of assortment, promotions or pricing strategy. The company?s customized store cluster initiatives integrated Spectra, retailers? shopper card data, Simmons data and two proprietary Dole databases. Last but not least, Dole broke new ground with advancements in employing shopper data to drive sustainable category growth.

    Category Captain
    Packaged Salads

    Chiquita Brands

    With sales of $4.3 billion, value-added salads are considered the most important produce category in terms of true profit and overall dollar sales. Recognizing the importance of this segment, Fresh Express developed a multifaceted category management program to maximize its potential. Fresh Express worked with Willard Bishop as part of the consultancy?s ?2013 Super Store Study? to help determine which produce categories warranted a decrease in space due to low profitability. It turned out that while only 36 percent of produce SKUs generated a true profit, 83 percent of those SKUs in value-added salads contributed positive profits. Fresh Express advised its retailer partners to allocate up to an incremental 4 feet to their sets, and the results were impressive: Out-of-stocks were reduced by 3 percent to 5 percent, while sales jumped between 10 percent and 15 percent at several regional grocery chains. Meanwhile, Fresh Express? consumer research helped identify six distinct groups, and uncovered motivations and insights for each segment?s purchase behavior. The company leveraged this research to launch several SKUs focusing on consumers? desire to add more greens to their diets.

    Category Advisor
    Pears

    CMI

    CMI generated new interest in the pear category this year with its Sweet Gourmet Pears program. The initiative was designed to bring ordinary pears into the spotlight as a gourmet food item, and to help consumers learn tips to pick the perfect pear. It included a suite of graphic components; complementary grab-and-go, pouch bags in Red, D?Anjou, Bosc and Bartlett varieties; a stackable standard box for shipping bulk fruit; and colorful supporting point-of-sale materials. In addition to these visual elements, a large component of CMI?s program focused on educating consumers on pear ripening. CMI used category management data to track the success of the program, discovering that its efforts drew in consumers who didn?t generally purchase pears. Retailers reported that pear sales increased significantly throughout the promotion period. The Bartlett pouch bag drove $771,000 in retail, while the Bosc pouch bag helped that subcategory increase by $291,000 versus the same period last year.

    Category Advisor
    Pineapples

    Del Monte Fresh Produce

    A regional retailer that sells Del Monte pineapples was looking to increase sales poundage after a declining quarter. Del Monte Fresh?s category management team stepped in to help by looking at FreshLook Marketing syndicated data, an analysis of market and regional POS sales trends, and MarketTrack pineapple promotional ad trends. The company then reviewed Spectra demographic data in conjunction with the retailer?s POS data, and generated an analysis of each store?s potential retail sales in pounds versus actual retail sales in pounds to find disparities in store performance. This process was essential in identifying stores that needed to focus on handling and merchandising best practices. Working with a Del Monte sales merchandiser, the targeted stores were audited, and recommendations were made to reduce shrink and maximize sales potential. Acting on the information, the retailer implemented an everyday low-price strategy and increased ad activity more than 30 percent from the prior year. As a result, year to date ending July 2014, revenue increased beyond 30 percent, while volume exceeded 35 percent.

    Category Captain
    Potatoes

    United States Potato Board

    The United States Potato Board?s (USPB) Category Optimization Partnership program brought together the board, a retailer and that retailer?s designated potato supplier in a nine-month program designed to identify key opportunities within the category that are unique to the retailer. The partnership with a Midwestern retailer-distributor and the Michigan Potato Council reversed negative performance trends with customized strategies that focused on assortment, merchandising and customer engagement, and boosted availability of local native varieties. USPB further determined that in-store demonstrations were a successful strategy for stimulating shoppers to try new potato types and recipes, and teamed with the retailer on 10 in-store demonstrations using Michigan white potatoes, leading to a direct positive impact on sales, and demonstrating the importance of potatoes to the produce department and the store.

    Category Advisor
    Potatoes

    Idaho Potato Commission

    In addition to offering merchandising recommendations, the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) gave retailers that wanted to boost their potato category sales an in-depth analysis. This involved at least five stores at a grocery chain, with preferably five distinct potato sets. Using proven statistics and pictures from the stores, IPC analyzed the layouts of the potato sets, keeping best practices in mind, and prepared a report, which also included a product mix or display analysis of the potato sets of all competitors within a 5-mile radius of each store. The commission employed sales numbers, when available, to determine the best possible layout; it was imperative that sales match facings to prevent shrinkage. Retailers then received a PowerPoint presentation with a comprehensive category review and IPC?s recommendations on how to lift sales for the entire category. In most cases, at least some of the recommendations were put into practice, with positive results.

    Category Advisor
    Specialty Produce

    Frieda?s Inc.

    Frieda?s Eat One Fruit a Day That Scares You campaign, launched in 2014, encouraged consumers to try something new in the produce department. At the retail level, the specialty produce company worked with clients to select key ?scary? fruits to promote in-store through signage and creative merchandising. Frieda?s also created the #FearNoFruit hashtag for social media activity around the campaign. The company additionally garnered significant media attention for the 2014 iteration of its National Love Your Produce Manager Day awareness campaign, which seeks to recognize the critical impact that produce managers have on raising U.S. produce consumption. In the area of unique new produce items, Frieda?s exclusively offered California red and purple artichoke varieties, enabling retail clients to add vigor to their commodity artichoke displays and excite shoppers. The California-grown Stokes Purple Sweet Potato was another successful exclusive seasonal specialty. Further, the company?s retail Hatch Chile program continued to grow.

    Category Captain
    Value-added Vegetables

    Mann Packing Co.

    The No. 1 core vegetable producer, with a 30 percent dollar share, according to Nielsen, Mann Packing provided quality, innovation and volume growth for retail partners across the country. A northern California retailer teamed with Mann?s exclusively to focus on growing its core vegetable segment. By maintaining the core selection, focusing promotions on key consumption periods and collaborating to drive the retailer?s promotional strategy, the company delivered growth of 17.1 percent in dollars and 11.6 percent in units. Mann?s also provided several new items that drove growth: Broccolini (a proprietary trademarked natural hybrid), sweet potatoes (crinkle-cut and cubes), and Brussels sprouts. Similar successes were reported with both the Mann?s brand and its private label products at retailers in other states. Innovations launched by the company in 2014 included a film-seal lid tray concept that reduced packaging by roughly 40 percent, saving 1.4 million pounds of plastic from landfills each decade.

    PERIMETER ? OTHER

    Category Advisor
    Automated Retail

    Outerwall

    Outerwall, the company behind the Redbox movie and video game rental kiosks, drove growth in an otherwise underused retail space. In addition to acquiring ecoATM, an automated kiosk that buys back most used mobile electronics directly from consumers, and expanding Coinstar Exchange (formerly Alula), which enables a consumer to quickly exchange an unused gift card for a cash voucher, leading to incremental purchase in-store, Outerwall invested in its core businesses, giving Redbox a major brand refresh through redesigned kiosks and light-box artwork. On average, Coinstar customers who receive cash vouchers and use them at the store at the time of the transaction increase their purchase amount by 10 percent, while 55 percent of Redbox customers also shop at retail partners? stores when they rent. Additionally, Outerwall shared with retail partners its research on the automated retail category to define segments, identify influential trends and further understand the consumer.

    Category Captain
    Front End Services

    Blackhawk Network

    The prepaid category has expanded rapidly as consumers continue to demand more choices for gift cards, telecom products and alternative payment options like prepaid debit. This demand has drastically changed the front end, with prepaid being front and center. Blackhawk Network stepped in to help its retailers best manage the category and ultimately foster consumer loyalty to their stores. In 2014, the company developed a data-driven retail optimization program that estimates effective peg usage by product, based on real sales and consumer demand. Called ?automated planogram optimization,? this technology let retailers maximize their sales while providing convenience for customers. Blackhawk found that in-store and out-of-store factors contributed to consumers? purchase behavior, which included factors such as geography and display layout. On the back end, additional placement factors included brand blocking, where groups of products were kept together, and grouping sub-segments. Up until recently, much of the design that accounted for these complex factors was produced manually. Blackhawk?s solution made store-level planograms a scalable reality.

    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ
    • About Jim Dudlicek As editor-in-chief of Progressive Grocer, Jim Dudlicek oversees daily operations of the magazine, spearheads its signature features, produces PG’s monthly Trend Alert newsletter on center store issues, moderates its regular webcast series, and writes and comments about a wide range of grocery issues. A food industry journalist since 2002, Jim came to PG in June 2010 after covering the dairy industry for 7½ years, during which time he served as chief editor of Dairy Field and Dairy Foods magazines. A graduate of Marquette University, Jim is fascinated by how truly progressive grocers inspire consumers to enjoy food, transforming the industry from mere merchants into educators that can take the most basic of all necessities and turn it into something profound and life-enhancing.

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