Getting category management right is critical for food businesses of all sizes. It’s not just for the “big boys”. It’s an important source of profit growth and a major part of the “glue” in the relationship with the retailer.
One very important component of this is the use of consumer and shopper research; it’s a vital source of insights that can lead to action to develop the category.
Consumer and shopper research relevant to category management can take a wide range of forms from in-depth interviews in stores to video observation, and focus groups to large quantified studies
There is clearly a need to focus on maximising the returns on research spend. A high proportion of research should be clearly linked to specific actions to develop the category, rather than just building general category knowledge; research should be done at the right scale, not overdoing it; and duplicating what other suppliers have done, and covering things the retailer already knows, needs to be avoided
A large proportion of the research should be specific to, and tailored to, individual retailers. The situation, performance, and aims of individual retailers often vary massively within a given category. Also, the personnel in the commercial team vary greatly: some love numbers, some love concepts.
To gain maximum relationship benefit, it’s important to be pro-active in proposing the right consumer and shopper research as an integral part of the overall category management effort
Try the following 10 questions about how your business uses consumer and shopper research in category management:
1. Is the balance right between spending on continuous data and spending on consumer and shopper research?
2. Are each of the four main roles of consumer/shopper research in category management being given the right level of attention?:
- building a comprehensive understanding of consumer and shopper behaviour
- identifying specific opportunities for developing the category
- generating evidence to support proposals for action
- responding to requests for insight from the retailer
3. How much of the overall consumer and shopper research effort is directly linked to specific actions to improve category performance (versus adding to general category understanding)?
4. How much of what we do is duplicating what other suppliers are doing?
5. How much of what we do is covering things the retailer already knows?
6. What proportion of our research effort is specific to individual retailers (versus being about the category overall)?
7. Are most of our research projects tailored to the known preferences of the individuals we are dealing with at the retailer?
8. What feedback are we getting from retailer personnel about our consumer and shopper research?
9. What concrete business results are directly linked to the consumer and shopper research we have done in the last year?
10. How much of our research is initiated pro-actively by us versus reacting to retailer requests?
Following through on the answers to these questions should help to point out some areas for focus. If you would like a little more guidance, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Jonathan.firstname.lastname@example.org