Collaboration between retailers and CPG suppliers is essential to shopper-centric category management.
We asked some of this year’s Category Captains honorees to share their thoughts about the supplier-grocer relationship, technologies most essential to success, and what’s in store for the industry in 2020. The following are their edited responses.
Cardenas: First and foremost, we know authenticity remains a value across our core, bicultural Millennial and general market consumer targets, and will always be a guiding principle for our business. We’ve believed this since our inception and our proprietary consumer segmentation confirmed that today’s consumers want to create authentic Mexican food at home. We also uncovered the insight that today’s consumers not only shop based on specific consumption occasions but also seek in-store destinations that can easily facilitate these behaviors. Already, this finding has informed the “Mexican Meals Made Easy” theme consumers today will see as they shop our gold standard destination sets, and this will continue to drive our in-store marketing activity.
Corona: Beer will remain a highly dynamic category, driven by changes in consumer preferences and expectations. Segment boundaries are blurring, particularly among flavored malt beverages, seltzers and ready-to-drink spirits, as consumers are demonstrating interest in “better than” options. Shoppers are also raising their expectations for their path to purchase, driven by the shift to quicker trips to retail and their omnichannel experiences. Despite these emerging trends, much will remain constant: Consumers will still make occasion-based choices on the products they buy. More than ever, a balanced strategy across the entire category is key.
Lalani: We know the way in which consumers shop and what they shop for today will not be the same tomorrow. We’re working with our grocery retailers to adapt their offerings to match the rapidly changing retail landscape. We’re also working to unlock impulse purchases through new flavors and products that meet who the shopper will be in the next year, in five years and in 10 years. For example, more and more consumers are looking for products that blur category lines, like salty and sweet. We’re working to create more of these innovative products to excite consumers and pairing these products with our results-proven, best-in-class merchandising guidelines to drive sales for retailers in 2020 and beyond.
Ring-Sanders: Kellogg Category Management’s mission is to be the preferred partner of our retail customers by providing insights and actionable execution to deliver mutually profitable and sustainable growth. The factors and trends that will have the most impact are varied but are all grounded in Kellogg’s deliverable to meet people when and where the opportunity to eat occurs. We will do this by providing a deeper understanding of the shopper and consumer and extending knowledge of the trip mission and motivations through occasion understanding.
Through this shopper-first lens, a few key initiatives have been identified to drive success in 2020. They include partnering with retailers to build loyalty to total store not just category basket. We will do this through our understanding of where our categories and brands play in building retailer loyalty. Secondly, unlocking the potential of growing urban markets and small formats that have unique requirements. And finally, bringing thought leadership to omni-channel and the changing expectations to optimize in-store space and assortment allocation.
Kellogg’s focus will be to reset category dynamics through shared profit pools to unlock sustainable growth for both Kellogg and our retailer partners delivered through innovation, merchandising and thought leadership.
Stein: There is increasing evidence regarding the need for significant change in how businesses think about and interact with the environment. Chiquita’s work with key stakeholders, actions and projects to improve biodiversity demonstrate the leadership role that it has taken in this field. The company works hard to increase productivity on its own and supplier growers’ farms, while also working to maintain and improve the biodiversity of this land. Constant in these sustainability efforts is a focus on minimizing the impact of its supply chain and distribution operations on the global climate and environment. Chiquita believes that 100% product-focused companies such as its own global operations must take the lead in the transformative change needed to achieve this goal.
Stoddard: Today’s shopper environment is truly omnichannel. We see great upside in partnering with our retailers to help them develop omnichannel solutions that are relevant to their shoppers, but importantly, are also unique to the pure play ecommerce solutions that exist today – this is the key to long term sustainability for store based retailers in today’s omnichannel environment.
Warady: Consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about the food they eat and the choices they make. Our role is to provide our consumers with as much knowledge as possible around our products, our category, and the way we manufacture our products and the ingredients that we use. At Enjoy Life, we launched Project Transparency in 2019; version 2.0 will be online in 2020. In Project Transparency, we are informing our consumers about all of the ingredients that exist in our facility, how they are used, and where in the bakery they exist. Because we cater to people with food allergies and intolerances, transparency of manufacturing processes is key to continuing our foundation of trust with our consumers. Trust and transparency will be major currencies in 2020.
Woodbridge: The demand for real ingredients will carry into the new year, with 85% of consumers sharing they are at least somewhat concerned with the quality of ingredients and eating healthier. We’re also going to see purchasing power transition to Millennial parents, which means developing products that meet their household preferences and needs, like creative twists to familiar flavors and convenient offerings, within the refrigerated dressing category and beyond.