Wiser at CMA/SIMA 2020

4 Conversations with Category Managers at CMA/SIMA 2020

The 2020 Category Management Association and Shopper Insights Conference is in the bag! Hundreds of brands, retailers, manufacturers, and others met up in Dallas for three days of networking and educational seminars. 

The agenda included sessions on emerging technology in category management, how to create value for shoppers, and case studies from industry leaders including Kraft Heinz, Clorox, and Walgreens. That’s all great, but what went on in between those sessions? 

Keep reading to see our recap of the conversations that happened on the floor, between professionals with titles such as category manager, shopper insights manager, data analyst, and more. 

Convo No. 1: In-Store Execution 

In-store execution was a common theme across all face-to-face conversations on the show floor. In general, that meant a display, promotion, or planogram was not set up properly inside a brick-and-mortar retailer.  

This can be incredibly frustrating because category managers spend countless hours planning and budgeting these activations. A lot of thinking goes into the best way to set up a display or which planogram will generate the most sales. Nobody wants to see that work miss the mark because of execution issues. 

Therefore, this became a big topic at CMA/SIMA 2020. Retail professionals were looking for ways to identify where and when execution was a problem, how to resolve those issues, and what tools and technology could help with that.

Convo No. 2: A Lack of Budget 

On a related note, another common thread throughout our in-person conversations was a lack of budget. Specifically, category managers and shopper insights pros knew what they needed but couldn’t get the financial support to make it happen. 

Instead, these experts were looking for solutions that were cost-effective or saved money in other ways, such as by replacing manual labor with machine learning, artificial intelligence, or virtual reality.  

Another cost-related concern revolved around scale. Many attendees had a need for eyes and ears inside stores on a national or global level. That meant their in-house field teams couldn’t collect data fast enough and hiring more people would be cost-prohibitive. Again, finding the right technology was a popular topic of conversation to address this need. 

Wiser team speaking with event attendees

Convo No. 3: Out-of-Stocks 

You can’t sell a product inside a store if that product isn’t on the shelf. Out-of-stocks can affect any category manager and as a result, it was a key topic at the conference. 

The goal for these professionals was to first know which products were commonly out-of-stock, where those OOSs occurred (including whether any retailer was more likely to have OOSs), and then how to predict future out-of-stocks. 

Of course, being able to identify where and when OOS shelves were likely to appear would greatly help category managers ensure their products were always available to buy. It could also help them predict high demand and better supply those retailers. Either way, out-of-stocks were on the tip of many attendees’ tongues. 

Wiser team speaking with event attendees

Convo No. 4: Market Share 

How much market share does your category have inside a specific retailer? Is it 10 percent? 15 percent? 20 percent? 

Market share was very top-of-mind for the CMA/SIMA 2020 attendees. Many worked for companies that had carved out a significant market share for their categories and needed a way to maintain—and then grow—that share.  

For others, their market share had just received a big boost. They were now the top category for a specific retailer, jumping ahead of their competition. As a result, the pressure was on to execute inside stores and make the most of this opportunity. The challenges involved measuring in-store effectiveness, tracking execution, and understanding shopper sentiment to make sure the bigger market share was beneficial for both the brand and the retailer.

Let Us Help You with Category Management and Shopper Insights! 

We had a blast at the 2020 CMA/SIMA Conference! It was great to see everyone and get one-on-one conversations with leaders in this space. Not only were we able to guide many in the right direction, but we also were able to learn a lot about what is important to professionals in this space. 

Have any questions about category management or shopper insights? Let us know! We’d love to share more on the subject or help you find the perfect fit with our retail auditing, price intelligence, and MAP monitoring solutions. 

See you next year!

Matt Ellsworth

Matt is the Content Marketing Manager at Wiser, the leading provider of actionable data for better decisions. He holds a BA from Salem State University.

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