Sunday, 2 October 2016

How to Win Retailers Over With Your Category Strategy

One of my food mentor goals is to have the opportunity to speak at more more events and I have been lucky enough to be invited to host a workshop at the Bread and Butter festival on the 12/13th November in London.  Have a look at for more details.

The workshop is entitled “How to Win Retailers Over With Your Category Strategy”. 

 I have met many start up food companies over the last few weeks and they are great at selling the benefits of their products - the key attributes, who the customer is and what the marketing is going to be.  But what they miss out on is thinking, where does it fit in the category - i.e. how is it going to grow the retailers overall category?  And so, this is the basis of a category strategy - how to showcase your brand to demonstrate how it will grow the overall category and make better use of the retailers space and therefore be irresistible to them to list, give more space to and promote.

In preparation for this workshop, I will be using the 6 weeks run up to the event to create a 6 part guide -  how to build a successful category strategy and how can it help grow your sales

Week 1 - is to look at the basic foundation.  Because the foundation equation is simple:

Retailer sales £ =  No of customers x Average spend per customer

So lots of customers spending lots of money on lots of products, lots of times is the holy grail.  Different categories have different drivers within them that will then help to find the sweet spot - the gap in the market where there is as still an opportunity for growth to drive the category overall.  So for example in the juice market, sales are suffering due to bad publicity about sugar etc.  But then paradoxically, Plenish come along and present a brand based on detox and weight loss creating a high end niche bringing new customers to the category driving up average weight of purchase. 

Take a look at a market I know well - sushi - to use as a case study to explain the key 5 category growth drivers:

Category driver Market status Market opportunity Tactics
Penetration - ie what % of the population buys into the category Low at 19% Bring more customers to the fixture by understanding barriers to entry Develop a brand that is accessible
Encourage trial through sampling
Frequency of purchase Customers like variety at lunchtime so may only buy once a week Encourage more purchase occasions by suggesting alternative uses e.g. time of day, other people in family, offer new varieties to keep range fresh Launch alternative of product formats that already sell well
Encourage other usage occasions such as dinner
Average price per visit

Sushi is perceived as one of the few healthy indulgence products Offer high value products that encourage customers to trade up  Launch high quality, high value items

Number bought per visit Sushi has short life so multi buy is less likely Identify drivers to encourage buying more  Create range to be bought together such as main meal/side
Introduce sushi as dinner option and encourage family buy
Share a sushi lunch promo
Number of stores listed Sushi is listed in many supermarkets but suffers from high waste due to short shelf life Review distribution strategy  Launch a range of long life sushi perfect for convenience stores
Offer smaller outer case sizes to enable stores to reduce waste

At the workshop, we will go into more detail on how to approach this model and work on your own category strategy. But before then… week is part 2 - how to build the customer insights (that enable you to find the sweet spot without spending £000s on market insights but still having a credible pitch for your retailer).

If you have any questions or would like any more info, please drop me a line on or 07811042054

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