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Insights are the key to continued success in category management

Category management has been affected by the modern shopper. JDA Software Group Inc, a leading provider of end-to-end, integrated retail and supply chain planning and execution solutions survey cemented this fact in their survey findings.

The “Voice of the Category Manager Survey 2017”, revealed pertinent thinking from nearly 100 professionals involved in category management and merchandising activities in North America.

As a leading provider of accredited category management training, Learning Evolution keeps an avid eye on the happenings within the CPG and retail industry.

Some of the findings from the report that we found most interesting include:

Predictive data under scrutiny

Today, companies have access to an abundance of data about their consumers’ shopping preferences and behaviors. This is due to the emphasis on data-driven technologies, which help companies distill strategic insights from this deluge of data.

Even with these technological advances, the survey shows that predictive data is under scrutiny. It is identified as the area that has the biggest room for improvement.

70% of the respondents admit that they are lagging when it comes to leveraging predictive analytics for improved pricing and merchandising. Which is critical for gaining competitive advantage in the modern shopper-centric world.

Category management
JDA’s “Voice of the Category Manager Survey 2017”

Another point of improvement is leveraging geographic and socio-economic data for targeted promotions and offers.  Just under 60% of the participants stating that this is an area that they are behind on.

Interestingly, mining data is not seen to be problematic. The majority (81%) of the respondents rate their organizations as above average for their ability to successfully mine consumer data to generate usable insights.

Insights around shopper behavior also came under scrutiny. The insights that are most coveted by the participants is resoundingly; a better understanding of the path to purchase as well as price sensitivity.

The fact of the matter here is that building and utilizing actionable insights is something everyone talks about as an important need but most are failing to execute.  

We at Learning Evolution, believe this a function of skill sets and training. Identifying facts from data is one thing. But learning to identify what the insight is and how to take advantage of it is a practiced skill that relies heavily on established fundamental knowledge.

Our Category Management Analytic Fundamentals Program as well as our Advanced Analytics Program are among our most popular training programs. Which certainly attests to professionals making the move to be smarter with data.

Together with our partners, we’ve built out specific case study work that teaches and challenges using the WHAT, SO WHAT, NOW WHAT analytic framework.  Knowing what questions to ask based on the business case is as important (or possibly more so) than knowing how to pull out general data facts. 

Forging onwards

We know the game has changed for manufacturers and retailers.  But the modern shopper isn’t writing the new rules, they are simply taking advantage of the tools and conveniences being placed in front of them.  There is ample opportunity to influence shoppers and consumers to take the action you want them to.

Forward planning is becoming increasingly crucial, and the survey drilled into exactly what these participants are prioritizing in the next year.

Three main areas of interest emerged:

  • Personalization and localization was a top priority for 68% of the participants
  • 62% of the respondents want to increase their development of digital technologies
  • Omni-channel retailing is a top priority for 60% of the respondents.
Category Management
JDA’s “Voice of the Category Manager Survey 2017”

Ask us about getting your team up to speed on ecommerce, contact Nick on nmatthews@learningevolution.com.

Localization focalization

As mentioned before, localization is a priority with the majority of the respondents. But how do they measure the success of their efforts to drive local preferences and demand in each category?

Increased sales spells success for 37% of respondents. Increased visibility into stores and improved inventory levels are also popular metrics for gauging the success of their localization efforts.

Part of the localization process is creating customer-centric planograms. In-store compliance is a must with 86% of respondents stating that in-store compliance with planograms is vital for success. Interestingly though, only 37% of respondents report that they measure in-store compliance.

Nearly half of respondents report that there is bigger need for support at the headquarter office due to localization. Accordingly, up to 20% of additional support has been by implemented by close to 90% of those participants. There are more changes to corporate compliance anticipated in the next five years.

Category management technology

When looking at what the respondents are wanting to invest into over the next few years, technology was a top ticket item.  

There is a common denominator with all these solutions and that is training and education.  Without the talent and skill to take advantage of new solutions most companies will find themselves stuck with the same old problems, but with newer tools in the tool bag.  We’re not saying it’s time to go back to the basics… but as with any discipline poor fundamentals won’t be fixed with new technologies.

When asked for the number 1 investment priority over the next 5 years, 41% of the participants selected big data and predictive analytics. Investment in customer-driven data science came a close second (37%).

Similarly, investments being prioritized for merchandising capabilities are customer-driven data science (58%) and business analytics (49%).

When asked about the priorities linked to the new technology solutions, more than half reported a need to leverage automation so that more can be done with less. The second most reported need for technologic solutions was to support increased localization, dynamic pricing and improved merchandising.

Category Management
JDA’s “Voice of the Category Manager Survey 2017”

JDA’s Voice of the Category Manager research portrays the resounding impact of the modern shopper. Data-driven insights are becoming more and more important!

Learning Evolution offers category management training that is accredited by the Category Management Association for certification as well as flexible to meet your specific needs.

Have a look at our comprehensive range or training options or contact us on nmatthews@learningevolution.com for more information.