Life as a Marketing Graduate: Part 3 – The Missing Category

by Marketing Lowdown on May 29, 2011

I thought it would be a good idea to share key insights I’ve learnt in each graduate rotation, to show how marketing is interlinked to various departments within an FMCG company.

In the last week, I’ve had at least 5 people, both friends and colleagues interestingly, ask me what the Category Management role is all about. To be honest, I had to think about it before I answered, because I too am still grasping where Category fits in with the big picture of things. So my answer went something along the lines of…

“Well to me, Category sits between Customer Sales and the Marketing teams. Category plays a vital mediating role to ensure both teams objectives and expectations are addressed, with the main objectives being ranging, distribution, promotional analysis and gap identification and closure through opportunities. They have a highly strategic and analytical role to play and are involved in Category Reviews, budgeting, shopper insights, corporate projects more broadly and more…”

So the two main words to describe Category Management are strategic and analytical. I can admit there has been a lot of graphs, trends, spreadsheets, forecasts and budgets. So how does this relate to marketing you may ask? I think there are 3 main reasons. Firstly, the way of thinking in Category really asks you to question the results of various sales and marketing initiatives. Questions such as: Why did we promote at that price point? Why are the retailers expecting x, y and z? How can we sell a new product in whilst protecting the existing range? What initiatives will expand the category and promote growth and value?

Secondly, because marketing is quite analytical in itself. Particularly from a SBM’s (Senior Brand Manager) perspective in terms of performance vs. budget, but even in terms of looking at marketing initiatives from a balanced customer and retailer point of view. You could have the best marketed product in the world, but if it’s not ranged by the main retailers (i.e. Coles and Woolworths), then it will be very difficult to sell.

The third reason relates to support and ideas. The Category team has a wide pool of unique talents that can really help broaden a marketers perspective. By working collaboratively on projects, a montage of ideas can be explored and the very best chosen and adopted.

So that’s my spin on Category Management. I stress that it is a subjective personal overview, but hopefully it gives you a feel of the missing piece of the puzzle.


Written by: Natalie Waser (Marketing Industry Specialist here at Marketing Lowdown!)

Natalie is engrossed by marketing at all levels – from critiquing television ads, to assessing in-store promotions to debating PR stunts.

Before commencing her Marketing Graduate role with Kimberly-Clark, the fast moving consumer goods company who invented Kleenex and Huggies brands, she completed various internships in PR, digital media and market research. She is driven by her imagination to test marketing norms and create new brand experiences.

On Marketing Lowdown, Natalie reflects on her experience as a marketing grad to bring you helpful tips to make your transition from university student to full-time worker all that little bit easier.

University: University of Sydney, Sydney
Degree: Bachelor of Economics and Social Science (Marketing and Industrial Relations and Human Resources)
Graduated: April 2011
Works as: Consumer Marketing Graduate at Kimberly-Clark Australia
Can be found on: LinkedIn

You can also read about Natalie on our ‘Meet the Team’ page!


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  • Natalie Waser

    A big thank-you to my Managers for sharing all their expertise and being patience with my endless amount of questions!

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