Check out our popular blog post on “8 Ways to Move to More Advanced Category Management Analytics”

19 Oct 2015

Click here to check out our very popular blog posting from last week:

If you want to get regular updates to our NEW Category Management blog, you need to subscribe to our new blog at


Category Management Knowledge Group’s blog is moving!

28 May 2015

Hi to all of our subscribers,
As a subscriber to our Category Management blog (which has >10,000 subscribers!), I’d like to invite you to our new Category Management Blog that will replace our existing blog in the upcoming months.  You need to subscribe yourself to the new blog using the following instructions.

Click on the link to the new site:
To subscribe, after you click on the link, simply input your email address on the righthand side of the screen (see image below).

[caption id="attachment_1370" align="aligncenter" width="274"]We've moved our category management blog! We’ve moved our category management blog![/caption]

Once you register, you’ll be set up to receive upcoming:

Weekly category management training tips & tricks
Access to some ongoing, new (free!) downloads, videos and tools that will help you in your role; and
Thought provoking guest blogs from some VSP’s (very smart people) in our network.

Please share this with others in your network – we’d love to have you as our newest subscriber!

Best regards,

Sue Nicholls, President

Category Management Knowledge Group    |


Category Management: An Opportunity To Become More Strategic In Your Retail Business

16 Jul 2014

Category ManagementCategory Management has evolved significantly over the past 30 years, and retail Category Managers have also evolved since their titles changed from “Buyers” to “Category Managers” in the 80’s (or have they?).

For most retail organizations, buying used to be done by vendor instead of by category – in fact, there are still some retailers in North America who continue to purchase by vendor.
Data – particularly retailer point of sale data, loyalty data and inventory data – is available at a much more finite level. For many retailers, data is also being sold to retailer’s vendor partners as a means of empowering them to make more strategic recommendations for their brands.
Technology has advanced – rather than having to go to 5 different systems to look at your business (by store, inventory levels, point of sale, warehouse shipments), many organizations have moved to more streamlined systems that allow them to look across multiple data sources much more easily.

So there have been many advancements, but still, many retailers are struggling as they pursue a more strategic, category management approach in …

Category Management Training Partners: Choosing the Right One

31 Mar 2014

Many individuals who are tasked with the responsibility of researching category management training companies and their offerings, or even making the training purchase for a team or organization, are new to the task. It’s not a task to be taken lightly, nor a decision that should be made without some careful considerations.  Based on this, I’ve compiled some ideas that you should take into consideration if you are tasked with this important responsibility.  If you haven’t gone down the path of purchasing training, I hope that you will find this blog useful.
1.  Training Needs to Have a Blended Learning Solution
Category Management Training Blended Learning Solutions In general, training is a vehicle to provide a new skill set to individuals within a team or organization.  Creating habits of newly learned category management skills is an ongoing process that benefits from a blended learning approach, which can include online training, webinar training, case studies and live training.  This blended approach extends over months – instead of over just a few days in a more traditional classroom training approach.  It gives participants time to learn, practice and …

Category Management First, Collaboration Second (Part 2!)

23 Feb 2014

Posted in category: Category Management

by Sue Nicholls, Category Management Knowledge Group

My last blog posting, which was written based on a free live webinar (“8 Essentials to Know About the Category Management Foundations”) that I facilitated the week before, has been incredibly popular with our network.  In net, as the industry tries to move forward with more collaborative efforts between retailers & suppliers, they need to make sure they have solid foundations in place.  And many of these foundations directly relate to category management strategy and capabilities within your organization.  Without these foundations, your collaborative efforts are going to be limited.

Based on the popularity of this topic, I’ve created an infographic that outlines the 8 Essentials in a bit of detail.  Here’s a copy of the infographic (this is only an image – there are instructions to get a downloaded version below the infographic):

Category Management Requirements
Click here to download the *.pdf version of the infographic, which lots of great links to other resources.

Have a great day!


Category Management Foundations First; Collaboration Second

10 Feb 2014

Collaboration is one of the buzzwords of 2014.  If your organization has “collaboration” as one of its key focus areas this year, you should ensure your category management foundations are right first.  In this blog, I’ve put together eight “essentials” required for more strategic category management.  These category management essentials will help create a platform from which collaboration will be much more achievable between retailers and suppliers.
1.  Know the Retailer’s Strategies:
The Retailer Strategy is an umbrella that drives all the different components of the Category Management process.  Without a well-articulated strategy, or without sharing retailer strategy with suppliers, category management success is much more difficult.  Here are a few of the questions to be addressed in a retailer’s strategies:

What are the retailer’s goals and priorities, both short-term and long-term?
What are the retailer’s principles around the tactics?
Who are the retailer’s target shoppers?  Competitors?
What are the retailer’s plans for Private Label brands?
What are the retailer’s requirements in product supply?

These strategies create the rules & principles which guide decisions made internally as well as externally, to ensure a consistent approach to the business.  As a retailer, …

Category Management Analysis: Are Your Brands “Over” or “Under” Developed?

06 Jan 2014

by Sue Nicholls, Category Management Knowledge Group

Category Management Analysis

As a category manager working for a retailer, you may have heard  “You are underdeveloped in Brand X or Segment Y in the category, and there’s an opportunity for you to grow in this brand or segment”.  As a category management analyst or sales person working for a supplier, you may have heard “Your retailer is underdeveloped in Brand X, and there’s an opportunity for this retailer to increase development in our brand”.  In both of these instances, the observation of under (or over) development is usually driven by a term called the “Category Development Index (CDI)”.  We are going to be covering the CDI measure in this category management analysis blog.

There’s a tendency to generalize the interpretation of the CDI, or not scratch below the surface and think about what the numbers really mean.  So many category management presentations focus in on this important benchmark number, but with a basic generalization (<100 is “bad” or underdeveloped; >100 is “good” or overdeveloped).  As …

Category Management Training: There’s Nothing “Fair” About a “Fair Share Index”

12 Dec 2013

by Sue Nicholls, President, Category Management Knowledge Group

In today’s world, there is much emphasis on deriving effective and strategic insights in category management.  With all of the incredible data sources available to both retailers and suppliers, there are certain measures that are consistently used to derive these insights.  For some of these more commonly used measures, there’s a tendency to generalize the interpretation of the numbers, or not scratch below the surface and think about what the numbers really mean.

One example of this is “index”, which is a measure that helps to compare two numbers – for example, index vs year ago is $ sales this year ÷ $ sales last year x 100; index vs target is $ sales ÷ $ target x 100.  The interpretation of an index tends to be that >100 is “good” or “overdeveloped” and <100 is “bad” or “underdeveloped”.  But there are many indices in category management that should be more thoughtfully interpreted.  Let’s review one of these indices – fair share index – in more detail.
Fair Share Index (FSI):
Calculation:  Brand or Segment Tactic Share ÷ Brand or Segment $ …

Category Management Training: Turning Your Presentations from “Drab” to “Fab”

02 Dec 2013

by Sue Nicholls, President, Category Management Knowledge Group

Category Management TrainingThis week’s blog is an extension of some of my other blogs over the past few months that have focused on Fact-Based Selling and Presentation Skills.  At Category Management Knowledge Group, we run many live category management training sessions with clients and students.  We also run optional, added-value live webinars with all of our students that are participating in one of our training programs (including a recent one on “Impactful Presentations“).  Through these interactions, we have the opportunity to see many different presentations and presentation styles across organizations.    It’s become apparent to us that there is an opportunity for organizations to train their sales, category management and marketing teams on some basic, tactical presentation skills.  These folks should have the knowledge to create impactful presentations that tell a story and look great (for the purposes of this blog these are the only two elements of the presentation that I’m going to focus on).

There are two areas that I …

Category Management Training: Increase ROI on Your Data Investment

26 Nov 2013

by Sue Nicholls, Category Management Knowledge Group


Many organizations spend many millions of dollars on providing data and data access to their organization.  The purchase results in a data-rich organization.  The problem is that, for many organizations, they are not getting the expected return on investment, with low data usage across the organization.  This is because data is just data – it doesn’t build capability on its own.  This blog posting will talk about the 4 requirements to maximize your data investment, for both retailers and suppliers, by increasing capability in your organization through category management training
REQUIREMENT #1:  RIGHT DATA (it’s just data)

Category Management Data
Your first requirement is, obviously, data – but the right data.  This can include a combination of retail point of sale data, syndicated data (including market data and key account data), panel data, transactional and loyalty card data, retail audit data, etc.  For anyone who has owned a data budget before, you know this isn’t as easy of a task as it may seem.  …

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