PG Announces 2012 Category Captains

The retail environment is more competitive than ever before – grocery stores, convenience stores, drug stores, dollar stores and warehouse clubs are all competing for the consumer’s food dollar. And amid an economy that’s still struggling to gain its footing, cooperation between grocery retailers and their product suppliers is of utmost importance.

Crucial to driving that traffic is superior category management, which consumer packaged goods companies can only achieve through understanding the needs and goals of their retail partners.

The latest winners of Progressive Grocer’s Category Captains awards truly grasp this, as evidenced by this year’s entries.

For the 16th year, PG’s Category Captains awards – featured online and in our November print edition – honor the most savvy suppliers for their acumen in the realm of category management. This year, there were 73 total winners – 58 Category Captains and 15 Category Advisors. From perimeter to center store, these suppliers demonstrated their understanding of the retailer’s goals and offered innovative ways to achieve them, elevating seemingly complex challenges into lucrative opportunities for category growth.

PG’s judging panel was truly impressed with the extent to which this year’s entries dissected their respective categories and engineered unique methods to boost visibility and relevance, not merely for their own brands but for their entire categories.

For example, E&J Gallo Winery helped one of its retail partners align its business goals and category objectives by focusing on two non-Gallo brands in order to pursue maximum category lift. J.M. Smucker researched the entire warm beverage aisle, including segments it doesn’t compete in, to better understand how to optimize the coffee category. Dietz & Watson worked with Nielsen to develop a brand-neutral tool to more effectively understand and plan deli meat promotions.

Meanwhile, PepsiCo tackled specific regional issues concerning salty snack category growth at different retailers. Coca-Cola dissected loyalty card data among multiple national retailers to boost the chilled juice category. Eggland’s Best tapped monthly market data reports to help its partners grow egg sales. Tyson Deli launched major online initiatives to inspire consumers and retailers regarding prepared foods. Kellogg’s is finding new ways to spark interest in a very mature cracker category. And Anheuser-Busch showed how a balanced approach to beer sales can lift the entire alcoholic beverage category.

Jim Dudlicek is editor-in-chief of Progressive Grocer.

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