Hopefully, you reviewed the previous year’s results.  It’s important to measure your results from the previous year before you begin planning for the next year. Did you reach our goals and objectives?  What opportunities and challenges have you identified for the upcoming year?  This is always a good place to start when developing strategies.

1) Begin the planning process a minimum of 6-12 months in advance. Some companies plan much further out.

To gain a sustainable competitive advantage for the upcoming year, you first need to develop solid strategies to help you reach and even exceed your goals.

Retailers, do you work closely with your top brands?

2) Brands should become experts in their categories. They should help retailers grow sales by leveraging category strengths with shopper’s needs. The opportunity is for retailers and manufacturers to develop strategic partnerships to grow sustainable sales. Together, they can help each other meet shopper’s needs and increase sales.

Manufacturers (Brands):

Brands should focus on increasing distribution on core items, improve quality merchandising and retail support, maximize promotional efficiency, and leverage strategic partnership opportunities with their retailer partners. Retailers are the lifeblood of brands. They help connect their brands with eager consumers. Brands should do everything in their power to support their strategic partners helping them maximize every selling opportunity. This is a win-win situation for both the retailer and the brand.

Retailers:

Retailers need to identify the optimum product assortment by category, reduce inventory, increase consumer foot traffic, maximize pricing and promotional efficiency, improve operational efficiencies, and more effectively meet shopper’s needs and wants.   The greatest asset that retailers have at their disposal is their strategic partners – brands committed to helping them grow sustainable sales.  Brands know what shoppers want.  They can offer deep insights into strategies that increase sales and profits.

These strategies have something in common – true category management. True category management is advanced strategy development and implementation.  It is the great equalizer between large sophisticated CPG companies and small brands and retailers. Used properly, it can level the playing field and help you develop a sustainable competitive advantage in any economy and in any channel.   True category management encompasses everything from the initial product concept all the way through to the end consumer, after the sale. It is these advanced strategies that help align retailers and products with shopper needs and wants.

Most brands present retailers with the same basic topline information. Savvy retailers want and need the help and support of category experts. They don’t need to be continually told what they already know, your item ranking and generic sales performance.

3) Invest in true category management. It can provide a high ROI when used properly. This goes well beyond the canned topline reports, graphs, and charts. While topline information provides a good starting place, it doesn’t answer key questions like “why what happened happened”. This is the key question to ask when beginning any deep-dive analysis. Its value is understanding the “why” behind the trends that drive sales. For example; why shoppers buy, where they buy, how they buy, when they buy, etc. Knowing and understanding the answers to these questions will give you a significant competitive advantage against any competitor.

Following these simple steps will help your brand reach your goals. Happy New Year!

The Essential New Item Checklist – The Recipe For Success

Empowering Brands | Raising The Bar

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