WASHINGTON, D.C. — Feb. 8, 1999 — Making the move to advanced category management can be a daunting task, yet the benefits can prove well worth the effort. To encourage this move, the Joint Industry Project on Efficient Consumer Response offers a new case study report that documents a real-life effort to create an advanced, consumer-oriented category business plan.

     The report, Advanced Category Management — A Pizza Case Study, is a valuable and step-by-step guide examining both the supplier’s and the distributor’s role. It was authored by the Project’s Category Management Process Improvement Group and The Partnering Group.

     In the study, representatives from a distributor (Fresh Foods) and a supplier (Shearen Frozen, Inc.) create an advanced, consumer-oriented category business plan for prepared pizza. Headquartered in Chicago, Fresh Foods owns 350 retail outlets." Shearen Frozen, Inc., located in Milwaukee, supplies several frozen food categories including snacks, entrees/dinners and pizza.

     This joint planning team carefully worked through the eight-step category management approach described in the Project’s ECR Category Management Report. Bringing together experts in marketing, finance and information technology, the team focused on the following questions:

  • How can an organization more effectively maximize multifunctional resources in a collaborative manner?
  • How can an organization create synergies across departments to enhance both consumer value and business results?
  • How can the organization and its trading partners gain greater focus on the consumer through collaboration and sharing?
  • How do companies use activity based costing to better management costs and limited assets?

     Documented in the case study is the team’s drive toward creating a new strategy for prepared pizza, which they perceived would benefit both parties. A major side benefit was the creation of a new partnership between the supplier and distributor. Most of all, though, the team members decided that advanced category management can lead to greater consumer satisfaction since the process requires a strong consumer focus. The team discovered that a better understanding of consumer use data will radically change the category definition and dramatically affect assortment.

     Copies of the report can be obtained from any of the ECR Project’s member associations.

The Joint Industry Project on Efficient Consumer Response was launched in 1993 to streamline operations and distribution throughout the grocery industry and to ensure that the industry is providing the products and services that meet consumer needs. This unprecedented effort to help the industry manage change involves 15 associations representing every major segment of the business, along with the Uniform Code Council. The project has published more than 40 reports on disciplines ranging from category management to activity based management to continuous replenishment. It sponsors an annual educational conference; the 1999 event will take place February 8-10 in Atlanta, GA. For more information, contact any of the member associations listed on the project letterhead or visit its Web site (http://www.ecr-central.com).