Dinner, pizza and other high-volume categories are among the targets of frozen food category-management programs, retailers told SN.
"Higher-volume categories are easier to see the results of your changes," said Preston Callison, manager of retail information and analysis at Ukrop's Super Markets, Richmond, Va. Ukrop's has been moving toward category management for about four years.
Pizza is an excellent gauge for the success of a category- management program, said David Goodyear, frozen food manager at Dreshertown Shop'N Bag, Upper Dublin, Pa.
"Pizza is actually a great category because there are enough stockkeeping units in it and enough specialty items that category management is a good way to keep an eye on pizza profits," said Goodyear. Shop 'N Bag currently uses category management throughout all segments of frozen food.
Though high-volume categories are good subjects for a category-management program, they're also the most difficult to convert because of space constraints in frozen food aisles.
"Our stores are varying sizes and there are just too many small to medium to extra-large frozen food departments," said Bob Edenfield, buyer-category manager at U-Save Supermarkets, Tampa, Fla.
Category management in dry grocery is more widespread because those categories have more flexible layouts.
"It's difficult to get a standard format like a 10-foot bread section that will work in all the stores," said Edenfield. "You can do that in the dry part, but when it comes to frozens, you just don't have the same flexibility."
The Spokane, Wash.-based Tidyman's has been converting to category management for about a year, according to Tim Chapman, category manager. In frozen foods, however, the conversion lags behind the dry-grocery area, he said.
"The stores have different types of cases, and it all has to be taken into consideration. It's definitely tougher than dry grocery, which fell together pretty easily," Chapman said.
Logistics can sometimes stand in the way of implementing category management in frozen foods, according to Sam Stites, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Fred W. Albrecht, Akron, Ohio.
"The storage space in the store puts another angle on it," noted Stites. "You also need a higher gross because of the maintenance on it."
To ease the transition to category management for frozen foods, some retailers are turning to manufacturer-designed category-management programs.
Currently, both Chicago-based Sara Lee Grocery and Coca-Cola Foods, Houston, have category-management programs in place for frozen baked goods and frozen juice and juice drinks, respectively.
"We set up what is called a category-management selling piece, which is called Sweet Success," said Kevin Schwab, Sara Lee's national sales planning director. "It tells us all of these things: the category role, the assessments, stockkeeping unit rationalization, promotional features and how the customer shops the category."
Coca-Cola follows the eight-step best-practices plan for category management, according to Susan Stading, director of category development.
"It literally walks you through how you go about defining a category, understanding what the role of a category is, assessing the historical performance of that category for the retailer as well as the market that the retailer competes in," she said.