Knowledge Bank Blog, Category Strategy

Category Strategy: 4 Things to Think About – No. 2

Category Strategies are too complicated

This is the second in a series of four articles (and accompanying videos), highlighting issues and opportunities for Category Strategy.

What’s the second big issue we see with Category Strategy?  Too many Category Strategies are too complicated, and as a result some of their best thinking is lost.

Does this ring a bell? A Category Strategy with several Drivers, leading to a raft of Strategies and Tactics.  Lots of data, insight and recommendations, all over a hundred slides or so.  However, it isn’t clear what the really big things are.  It isn’t clear where to focus resource.  It isn’t clear what the strategy is directing people to do.

What a waste of effort.  What a shame – when normally there is some great thinking hidden within those 100 slides.

So, how do you avoid this over complication?  How do you get to a Category Strategy that is simple, directive and results in the right action?

Here’s three things to do.

First, focus on the Gamechangers, not the hygiene factors.  So for chocolate confectionery, you might leave out “promotional optimisation” (which category wouldn’t do that?) and focus on the big stuff like “premium adult treating” or “gifting”.  It might feel uncomfortable leaving out the day job – if we don’t have “promotional optimisation” covered, does that mean we shouldn’t be doing it? – but if the strategy covers everything, then it rules out nothing.  It becomes uncontroversial but also undirective.

Second, make the Drivers pointed.  So “5 a day” instead of “Health”.  “Portable” instead of “Convenient”, “Supermarket front of store” not “On The Go”.  Get off the fence, and take a step from the general towards the specific.  If your Drivers can’t really be disagreed with, they’re probably not adding much to the sum of your organisation’s thinking.

Third, attach Critical Moves to your Drivers.  If you can’t say what needs to be done, by who, then you haven’t really got a strategy.  So if you are saying Chocolate Confectionery is all about premium adult treating, what actually needs to be done?  Is it a new range? What investment does that require?  Is it a new bay in store?  Who do we need n board for that?  Once you are getting into this stuff, then everyone will understand much more clearly what you really mean and what it is going to take.

So if your Category Strategy document is too long , if you find it hard to summarise succinctly, if you find that almost any action can be justified within it, take another look. Have you focussed on the Gamechangers?  Have you made the Drivers pointed?  Have you attached Critical Moves to Drivers?

Next week, a third issue.  There are too many categories where everything is being sold in the same way.  Clearer sub-category strategy is the way to overcome this