THE SITUATION: Manufacturers adapt their category plan across channels and key customers with insights used to sell against tactical guidelines. To aid this process, a majority of manufacturers have developed category management functions to influence in-store execution. As a result, customer planning is most often grounded in analysis of historical category performance and building planogram scenarios based on rear-view analytics. While most 'manage' customer planning this way, the break-through performers are able to engage customers with forward-looking views on where consumer trends are heading, thought leadership on the role of their categories at each customer and opportunities to exploit these trends. We call this leading the planning cycle to influence the category strategic underpinnings.
OUR SOLUTION: We support our clients to increase the level of customer engagement to category plans by leading the planning cycle. Success is not linked to the size of the company, rather its ability to smartly and persuasively engage its customers. Key strategies include:
- Partner: Early retailer input to drive buy-in and change while simultaneously working with retail partners to achieve their performance goals. Include the retailer's voice and insight needs as part of the planning process to "front load the sell."
- Insight: Incorporate Customer-Specific or Retail Segment insight at beginning of plan development. Data is the currency for joint business planning. Whether fielding proprietary research or leveraging available syndicated sources, retailers need to be hooked with new information.
- People: The right team members must be in place to lead discovery planning, elevate the company within the retailer, and communicate the brand strategy and activation concepts.
- Personalize: Plan must help retail partners win locally with their target customers.
- Challenge: Overcome retailers' reluctance to act by identifying economic value "for me."
- Time: A robust strategy requires a well-thought-out game plan that engages the retailers and can lead the category to profitable growth
END BENEFIT: By helping our clients lead the planning cycle and increase customer engagement, they are able to more profitability grow with their key customers. This approach is proven to influence wins at the point of purchase for our clients, including: increased assortment and merchandising support, increased space at-shelf, and improved product placement throughout the store.
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