You worked hard to build your brand and prepare for its launch. What’s next? What is your strategy to get your product on retailer’s shelves? What stores should you launch in first, second, third, etc? More importantly, how do you convince the retailer that they need your product more than something they are already selling?
Ideally, you already know the answers to all of these questions. This should really be a priority before you speak to a co-packer. Don’t worry if this is new to you. Most of the brands I speak to think about their go-to-market strategy after they have a product to sell.
This is not something you do once and forget it. Consider this. An airplane traveling from California to New York is off course more than 90% of the time due to changing wind currents. Pilots continually need to make minor adjustments to keep the plane on course. The same is true for you and your brand.
This is the step where you begin to analyze, measure, and review your plan and all of your strategies. Are they moving you closer to your objectives or further away? This must continually be your focus. This step should be ongoing to help you refocus and make changes if necessary.
Hindsight is 20/20. Running any business would be easy if you could only predict supply and demand, shopper purchase habits and trends, the impact from your competition, etc. True category management can help you answer these questions giving you a competitive advantage.
Similar to how a pilot files a flight plan before each trip, they also strive to avoid major storms and – fly around them. In the same manner, a talented category manager can help you predict and plan for an increased demand for cold and flu based medications and supplements based on seasonality and environmental conditions. This is why they call it cold and flu season. Savvy brands are prepared for an increased demand for cough drops, facial tissue, and vitamin C.
For example, the sharp category manager for a cold and flu remedy company could keep a keen eye on category and market trends, CDC cold and flu reports, seasonal allergies. They could then help plan incremental promotions to help retailers support their customers and avoid out-of-stocks. Their careful planning would ensure enough available product on hand and that it is well merchandised in incremental displays to reach the maximum number of shoppers. The same strategies work for every product.
True category management may sound overwhelming but it doesn’t need to be. You begin with the basics and build on them. Over time, your proficiency increases. The key is knowing where to begin. Canned topline reports might help you learn basic category facts and they are a good place to start but they will not help you compete effectively on their own. For this, I encourage you explore all of the free resources available to you on my website, including my podcasts and articles. You are sure to find many actionable insights and strategic solutions to help you achieve your goals. Feel free to reach out to me anytime.
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