Magazine article Drug Topics

Click: Have You Tried This Category Management Tool?

Magazine article Drug Topics

Click: Have You Tried This Category Management Tool?

Article excerpt

CHAINS and BUSINESS

Drugstore chains now have a Web-based category management intelligence system that ides sales information, thanks to ACNielsen. The Schaumburg, Ill., firm's Category Business Planner (CBP) system is designed to enhance collaboration between retailers and manufacturers in developing category plans.

CBP is organized according to the retailer's proprietary definitions of product categories. Clients access the system through the Internet, receiving instant analysis in the form of "news headlines" pertaining to key category management metrics. Clicking on a headline provides users with more details. CBP's drugstore chain customers currently include Longs Drug Stores, Eckerd, CVS, and Walgreens.

"We looked at early category management, and we saw a lot of flaws in the process," said Lori Tanking, vp.-- marketing, retail business solutions, Category Business Planner. "It was very data- and labor-intensive, and there wasn't a common language, process, or definition of categories in the industry. We looked at that as a big roadblock to experiencing the full potential of category management. We're creating a common language between retailer and manufacturer."

CBP tracks over-the-counter and front-end sales through UPC codes. How does CBP enhance front-end profitability? "The front end is always a concern of the drug channel. One of the more recent trends has been the shift to more convenience-type products, with more focus on food sales. Those are products we are tracking via CBP," said Tanking. She explained that CBP uses category definitions determined by the retailer. "In the past, retailer and manufacturer would get together to review a category, and the retailer might have defined a category as `soft drink,' while the manufacturer might have categorized it as 'isotonics.' They weren't even comparing apples to apples," she pointed out.

Emphasizing that retailers and manufacturers wasted time "haggling over the data," Tanking said, "they got caught up in definitional conversations rather than things that would move the category forward. We said, 'Let's level the playing field. Let's have the categories be defined the same way.' We want them to move into a collaborative environment and start changing the category."

Tanking continued, "We've done the gatering and manipulation [of the data] for the users so they can springboard into coming up with the action plans and take the next steps and build the category plan on top of that. …

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