1. Cemented legacy brand as category leader adding rocket fuel to their growth
The VP of Sales for a legacy brand asked me to evaluate a consulting report her company commissioned. She had questions and concerns about the report. It did not offer any recommendations or actionable insights. In addition, there was very little real substance in the report – mostly just fluff. It looked canned and generic. Some of the recommendations were things the brand was already doing, for example having an organic line.
The report essentially said that the brand was #1 in the category which it was. It did not identify any serious competitive threats and the trends the report identified did not include how consumers shopped the category.
More importantly, the expensive report overlooked the competitive landscape ignoring a brand with explosive sales and its potential impact on overall category growth and the threat it posed to other brands.
The competitive brand was attempting to commoditize the category. It would have pulled valuable profits from the category and dilute the importance of the category to retailers. It would also have negatively impacted complementary categories. The actual category was a key growth driver to other categories including homeopathic solutions.
I did a deep dive analysis into the category and brand. The example in the next section is the sterilized informal deliverable – the actual project was for a different category. It was done under the retainer phase of our working relationship. It led to several incremental projects.
I identified a previously overlooked competitive threat that was quickly gaining dominance on the west coast with explosive sales in other regions, a key point not included in the consultant’s report. If left unchecked, the competitive brand would have become the category leader within a year or two. The competitor had a larger lower priced item that would have pulled profits from the category and completely derailed . My recommendations kept the competitor’s brand from gaining incremental distribution at key retailers.
I identified how consumers shop the category by flavor, size, brand, etc. I then identified several merchandising issues that caused consumer confusion that led to lost sales. I also identified the dollar value of closing those sales gaps with strategies to re-merchandise the category.
Re-merchandised the category to make it more shopper-friendly and easier to manage. The stagey was key to reducing shopper confusing and shopper buying friction. This resulted in solid sales grow at retail.
This also made it easier for the brand to properly forecast brand and item sales, manage store inventories, maximize promotions across all stores and retailers, more accurately identify shopper buying trends, and leverage those key learnings to drive incremental sales in the category and all complementary categories.
The brand became an invaluable trusted and respected partner at retail.
Here is the sterilized informal deliverable
2. Identified huge new growth opportunity for a gluten-free snack brand
I was asked to eventuate the salty snack category and identify new growth opportunities primarily with a gluten-free focus. This request came several years ago, long before gluten-free became a hot trend.
The brand did not currently have a gluten-free product. I recommended gluten-free because I had seen an upswing in shoppers wanting health good-tasting gluten-free alternatives, I have family members who are gluten-free so this was already on my radar.
The challenge is that none of the syndicated databases properly coded (segmented) gluten-free. In one database, 68% of items in the snack category were identified (coded) as “not-stated”, “not-applicable”, “NA”, etc. Beyond that, several of the items coded as gluten-free were not. This was due in part to product labeling issues. The same was true for “better-for-you” product coding.
To properly identify any opportunity, the category would need to be completely segmented.
I completely re-segmented the database to properly code each item as gluten-free, better-for-you, etc. I then did a deep dive analysis into the category and brand. The example in the next section is the sterilized informal deliverable. This led to several incremental projects.
By re-segmenting the category around the key attributes that are driving sales in the salty snack category, I identified huge growth opportunities for the brand to take a leadership role in the category.
The challenge is that most of the databases are segmented around the “generic” shopper with little or no focus on how the core natural consumer shops a category and complementary categories. This is my secret sauce and it’s the focus on several of my mini-courses, teaching brands how do perform this level of analysis on their own.
Most brands rely heavily on what I call “push-button category management”. This only serves to amplify errors in the database like this in this case study. This leads to brands overlooking key opportunities as shared here. This is exactly why I tell brands not to reply solely on canned topline/templated reports. These should only be used as a starting point of any analysis. The real value of the data you buy comes from the insights others overlook.
The brand took a leadership role in a growing segment. This helped the brand explode sales in natural and beyond. In addition, this also shined a light on the opportunity for other brands to focus on gluten-free products and the shoppers they attract.
Gluten-free shoppers are extremely loyal to retailers who cater to their needs. There is a lot of confusion around this topic. Brands taking a leadership role in this space need to incorporate the importance of gluten-free in their brand story – something I talk a lot about on the podcast. The same holds true for plant-based, keto, allergy-free, etc.
Here is the sterilized informal deliverable
More examples coming soon. Keep checking back!
What my professional certificastion includes:
I am the first person certified at the highest level of category management proficency – Certified Professioinal Strategic Advisor (CPSA).
*All examples have been sterilized. The work I do is all custom and propriety. I find golden nuggets others overlook – my secret sauce.
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