The changing role of the Category Captain in UK grocery retail market

BENSON, Michael, HIRST, Craig and BERESFORD, Paul (2018). The changing role of the Category Captain in UK grocery retail market. In: 25th International Conference on Recent Advances in Retailing and Services Science, Madeira Island, Portugal, 16 - 19 July 2018. (Unpublished)

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Category management is a collaborative approach to product selection and management between manufacturers (suppliers) and retailers to enable the effective management of product categories rather than individual brands. This paper reports emerging findings from research that explores the category management function and its role in value creation in the UK grocery retail market. Value creation within category management relationships is reported within the research as value co-creation, value no-creation and value co-destruction. Using practice-based research, qualitative interviews of twenty five senior grocery category managers and retail buyers reveal the evolving nature and influence of the Category Captain role in a changing retail marketspace. The UK market is undergoing unprecedented change as discount retailers capture market share from established incumbents, and consumers become increasingly price sensitive and switch from branded products to private label. In this context, the role is being elevated and negotiated with a need to develop stronger, more meaningful and valuable relationships between the supplier and retailer. It is perceived that by strengthening the relationship between the retailer and the suppliers' involved in category decisions will enable a more consumer-centric approach to category development and value creation. Adopting the lens of a resource based view of value creation, findings from this research reveal that Category Captain selection and recruitment is no longer solely determined by economic resource and market power, rather market knowledge and insight is seen as the key determinant of a successful category relationship. The role of Category Captain is changing, and the new role referred to by the suppliers and retailers as the 'preferred supplier' requires a greater emphasis to become a trusted category adviser. It is no longer a 'seat at the table' bought through financial support, but one that has long-term sustainability from joint responsibility and bringing innovative and differentiated insight into the category. In conclusion the research suggests the future role needs to be impartial of the commercial function using a more 'open' and honest approach in a collaborative relationship led by the supplier. This marks a significant change in decision making related to this function and presents significant opportunities for private label suppliers and small suppliers to play key roles in category decision making and value creation. While present knowledge suggests that category managers' act impartially, this research also reveals that the role potentially brings further value to the preferred suppliers. This offers significant challenge to the role of trust and loyalty in category management relationships.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2019 09:48
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2021 23:30

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