Category roles are micro strategies that retailers use to help make their stores more shopper friendly. They also help drive category sales growth by the way they define how the category meets individual shopper’s needs.

The category role identifies the importance of the category to the retailer. They define the role the retailer wants the category to play within each store. Category roles can be used to increase shopper traffic, support specific shopping needs, feature special occasions, or make target categories more shopper friendly. Retailers should work closely with category leaders (brands) to assign different roles to the categories within their stores depending on the customers they want to attract.

Category roles help retailers execute specific strategies targeted to meet consumer’s needs. For example, a retailer might want to be known as the best store in their market to support the needs of the health-focused shopper. In this example, the retailer would stock a wide variety of natural and organic products across key categories. Their selection would help differentiate them in their market helping them stand out from their competition.

Roles can and often vary within different segments in a single category. A retailer might want to be the low price leader in one segment to draw shoppers into their store while also stocking a wide variety of premium items to differentiate them from their competitors. They could then earn a higher margin on the premium specialty items like organic and plant-based items, etc.

The most popular category roles are:  

1. Destination

A destination category is used to help a retailer take a leadership role in a crowded market. It communicates the retailer’s commitment to meet the specific needs of consumers. It is used to define the impression/image the retailer wants to be known for. It defines the retailer’s commitment to deliver consistent superior value to that target shopper. For example, a store might want to be known as the preferred destination for healthy grab-and-go meal solutions. Key categories would then feature products that specifically meet that objective. The destination category draws the consumers into the store and focuses on specific solutions to improve their shopping experience.

2. Occasional/Seasonal

An occasional/seasonal role for a category is focused on specific events, like the candy and floral department for Valentine’s Day. Retailers typically place a great deal of emphasis on the candy and floral department on Valentine’s Day by increasing their selection, inventory, and gift ideas.

3. Routine

A routine category serves as a link between the retailer and the consumer.

It is designed to assist in building the target consumer’s image of the retailer. This would include most of the “routine” items consumers typically put on their shopping list including staples like milk, butter, bread, etc.

4. Preferred routine

A preferred routine role in a category is used to help establish a retailer as the preferred choice by delivering consistent superior value to the target consumer. For example, produce is a routine purchase for many consumers, but product selection can vary greatly by the retailer. Stores that feature the best local organic produce available can differentiate themselves as being the primary destination in the market.

5. Complimentary 

A complementary category is one that helps support the sales in other categories. For example, several stores sell pots, pans, and cooking accessories that help support meal preparation.

6. Convenience 

The convenience role is geared toward filling impulse needs. This strategy plays an important role in delivering higher margins and profit in categories frequented by time-starved shoppers. An example of this strategy is placing chilled single serve beverages next to the deli or at checkout lines.

Category rules are an important part of a retailer’s strategy to differentiate themselves and satisfy the needs of shoppers. Brands should work closely with retailers to develop strategies focused on meeting the needs of their core shoppers.

What strategies do you use to drive sales and meet shoppers needs?

The Essential New Item Checklist – The Recipe For Success

Empowering Brands | Raising The Bar

Ever wish you just had a roadmap?  Well now you do!

Don’t miss out on all of these FREE RESOURCES (strategic downloadable guides, podcast episodes, list of questions you need to be asking and know the answers to, weekly newsletter, articles and tips of the week.  You will also receive access to quick and easy online courses that teach you how to get your brand on the shelf, expand distribution, understand what retailers REALLY want and address your most pressing challenges and questions.

All tools that you can use, AT NO CHARGE TO YOU, to save you valuable time and money and grow your sales today!

Image is the property of CMS4CPG LLC, distribution or reproduction is expressively prohibited.