Managing the Competition: Category Captaincy on the Frozen Food Aisle
(8 pages of text)
Case (Gen Exp)
An executive at Freezer Foods, a manufacturer of ready-to-eat frozen meals, has just been told by a major customer, a retail supermarket chain, that it wants one of its two suppliers of frozen food to take over as category captain. A category captain is a third party, usually a manufacturer, who manages a category of goods for a retailer. The executive needs to think through the objectives of category captaincy from the retailer’s perspective and develop an attractive bid to win the category captaincy. In doing so, the executive develops an opinion on the benefits and challenges associated with category captaincy from the point of view of four parties: the retailer, the winning category captain, the manufacturer whose rival becomes the category captain, and consumers.
This case is appropriate for an introduction to marketing course, a course in marketing metrics or a course in retail management. It can also be taught to illustrate the complexity of competition in strategy. The case introduces the idea of category captaincy, a practice that many students may not be aware of — and some may even assume is illegal.
Students will see the potential benefits of effective category management by a well-informed manufacturer (i.e., the potential for higher category profits as a result of an entire category being managed as a whole rather than as disparate stock-keeping units). Students will also explore the competitive issues involved in category captaincy, including the power of the category captain over its rivals.
United States, Large, 2015
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