To be honest, empathy and understanding aren’t generally my strong points. But an understanding of some of the common pain points a Category Manager faces in their daily grind can give you an advantage when pitching a new product.
This short list should get you thinking like a Category Manager in no time…
The most obvious pain point for a Category Manager is to increase sales within their category. It’s important that any new product they put on shelf doesn’t cannibalise their existing sales (great term that – cannibalise. I picture boxes of cereal eating bars of chocolate… but that might just be me).
New products must grow the category as a whole, not simply move customers from one product to another. Make sure when pitching to a retailer you show how your product can grow the category as a whole.
If you have sales data proving your track record with another retailer, now would be a good time to use it! Proof of delivering solid margins elsewhere will work to your advantage.
Despite rigorous planning it’s not uncommon for retailers to face supply issues resulting in out-of-stocks. If you can position yourself as a saviour in times of trouble you will start to build really solid relationships and massive competitive advantage.
MOQs (Minimum Order Quantities)
The more you can remove barriers to a Category Manager saying “yes” the better your chances of gaining that all important shelf-space. If you can remove or reduce MOQ’s, especially at the start of a relationship or with an untested new product idea, you will improve your chances.
How much of a pain point this is will depend on the particular retailer’s strategy. Those who pride themselves on offering their customers the latest and greatest will be most open to new ideas. Again, you need to ensure you align your new product pitch to the strategic aims of each individual retailer.