Category Managers fall into one of the following three groups;

1.They set multiple category targets without understanding the connections between each target.
2.They have no targets, except a vague direction to improve performance.
3.They have set few some, but they are not S.M.A.R.T.

I am not talking about the ‘hard’ targets of sales and profit. I am talking about the category targets for what they want to achieve through shopper/consumer measurement. For example, penetration, market share, frequency, and so on.

An effective Category Manager should fall into a fourth group. Having a ‘guiding star’ target. A target that the Category Manager and the supporting category teams, have as a horizon to aim towards. Yes, other targets can be identified. The ‘North Star’ is the key target.

What is an Example of a North Star Target?

Without a North Star target category management teams will be forever watching many measures and targets. And chasing them all. There has to be one. A bit like in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ - One ring to rule them all. One target to rule them all.

There are 3 choices when it comes to choosing the Category’s North Star Target. Those are:

•‘I want more shoppers to buy my category’. This is a penetration measure. The number of people that buy my group of products. This sounds obvious, but it is only when you understand the 3 choices, that you understand how hard the decision is to make.
•‘I want my current shoppers to buy more frequently’. This is a frequency measure. It is about how often your category shoppers buy your product. Maybe once a week, like milk, or once a year, like shoe polish.
•‘I want my current shoppers to buy more on each trip’. This is a trip spend measure. This is about encouraging your shoppers to buy more when thy buy. At present they might buy only one pack of cooked ham, but a ‘3 for 2’ promotion, could persuade them to buy 3 packs, instead of 1.

Making the choice is hard. It should be. It’s a big decision. This is a target that should stay with the category for 2-3 years. Once chosen, the target needs to be S.M.A.R.T. In my experience 99% of people roll their eyes at SMART, and then never have any targets that are.

Chosen, Now What?

Once you have chosen either a penetration, frequency, or trip spend target, it’s now about making it real. Buying the team into the target. Making it practical. Making it live.

Let’s say that you have chosen a SMART frequency target. Your current rate of frequency is 4 times per year. Once every 12 weeks. Your target is 5 times per year. Then you’ll add a date and some other pieces to make it SMART.

Break the target down into 3 groups; heavy, medium, and light shoppers. Let’s say that their current frequency is heavy 7, medium 4, and light 1. Each group needs a target. All 3 targets added together equal the overall frequency target.

Give each shopper a name, e.g. ‘Mr Heavy’ (Maybe a netter name!) and bring it life. Maybe with a 6-foot cardboard cut-out of your shopper with a reminder if the target written across him. Now analyse each shopper completely until you know them as you know your best friend;

•When do they buy most frequently?
•What’s the ceiling when you run frequency promotions?
•How does the competition compare on frequency?
•What was frequency like 3 years ago?
•And so on.

Next, brainstorm what can the category teams do to get Mr Heavy to increase his frequency from 7 to 9. Then share the data insights with the category team, and brainstorm again.

You now have a list of things that you can do to increase Mr Heavy’s frequency. Create a plan, agree actions, and publish a dashboard showing the target, the measure, the actions’ progress, and the gap, on a 2—weekly basis.

Author's Bio: 

Cristina Herrera has a BA in Journalism. And she is an Independent Journalist. Her passion in life is to write meaningful stories and help others through research and content. She truly believes that knowledge is power. So, she wants to share her experiences through content.