2019 Category Captain Awards: Shopper-Centricity or Bust!

2019 Category Captain Awards: Shopper-Centricity or Bust!


The idea of category management is moving beyond individual categories toward a 360-degree view of the store. The future lies in shopper-centric solutions that deliver on key consumer need states and help grocery shoppers visualize the possibilities for any eating occasion.

Those solutions include complementary products and leverage key adjacencies and strategic cross merchandising. They require tearing down the old silos that subdivide the supermarket and a vision that extends beyond traditional aisles.

In short, this new era of category management transcends categories.

To that end, for its 2019 Category Captains Awards, Progressive Grocer has thrown out all of the categories!


The 2019 Category Captains are:

  • Abbott Nutrition
  • Cacique
  • Chiquita Brands
  • Constellation Brands
  • Dole Food Co.
  • E&J Gallo
  • Enjoy Life Foods
  • The Hershey Co.
  • Hormel Foods
  • Kellogg Co.
  • Litehouse Foods
  • Mars Wrigley
  • Molson Coors
  • Nestlé Purina Petcare


The 2019 Category Advisors are: 

  • Avocados From Mexico
  • Bayer HealthCare
  • The Coca-Cola Co.
  • Fresh Express
  • GSK Consumer Healthcare
  • Idaho Potato Commission
  • Idahoan Foods
  • Ocean Mist Farms
  • Pharmavite
  • Reynolds Consumer Products
  • Stemilt Growers
  • Topco Associates
  • Unilever

This year, to reflect the evolution toward pure shopper-centricity, PG accepted only at-large nominations, allowing entries to compete against each other for Category Captain and Advisor (honorable mention) regardless of what traditional category they might represent.

Of course, we understand that old habits die hard: We still received many category-based entries, particularly from CPG companies that play in multiple areas of the store. In the spirit of the aforementioned evolution, however, we evaluated those entries collectively and recognized the companies as appropriate for their whole-store efforts.

Indeed, CPG suppliers and their grocery retailer partners are embracing shopper-centricity and delivering on the demand for solutions to mealtime needs.

Among those we’ve recognized: Hispanic cheesemaker Cacique’s Mexican Meals Made Easy destination, Chiquita’s banana-yogurt cross promotion, E&J Gallo’s small-format program, Enjoy Life Foods’ shelf-tagging strategy, Hormel’s charcuterie events and Nestlé Purina’s pet aisle reinvention.

But there’s still a long way to go.

“There is simply too much focus on categories in the current category management approach and even in the new concepts we have seen from the work being done by several third-party analytic providers,” Win Weber, chairman and CEO of Tampa, Fla.-based consultancy Win Weber & Associates, a category management research partner with Deloitte and the Food Marketing Institute, writes in his analysis of shopper-centricity, featured in the section starting on page 60, following the awards in this issue. “Most everyone continues to be focused on the narrowness of categories, when today, traditional definitions of categories no longer dictate the shopping journey, with shoppers wanting solutions tailored to their lifestyles.”

From breakfast, lunch and dinner to snacking and special occasions, consumers should be able to rely on their local grocer for solutions, the answers to all of their “What should I eat?” questions. 

In the long run, the winners in the grocery game will be the retailers and suppliers that can most effectively bare their souls to each other to deliver on any shopper need, from the simplest to the most elaborate.

Look beyond those aisles, tear down those silos, and get to work!

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