Into the shoes of a category manager
Published on 06/9/2022
Published on 06/9/2022
The case study on offering the best possible strategy to combine the commercial interests of the Leclerc and Ferrero companies in the biscuit category was given to the students in the MSC International Marketing & Brand Management track of the NEOMA BS Master in Management programme.
On 30 March, the best results were put in front of a jury. It was a day that brought a three-year partnership to a close. We discussed it with Isabelle Ulrich and Daniele Pederzoli, the two professors who oversaw this pedagogic project for three years.
In three years, the two partners invested time in developing the project and then presenting the case study each year to the students before finally participating in the jury that named the best results from the students. What is mutually enriching about this type of joint work?
The manufacturing/distribution relationships in France are often based on a transactional approach where the balance of power is the key component. By bringing these two major players in mass-retail products together, NEOMA BS makes the two companies work together, and more generally, makes it possible to understand each other’s strategic challenges.
Lastly, working on this case for the past three years, I think that the two companies further developed their contacts at different levels, which was mutually beneficial.
In practical terms, what happened?
Each company first shared its data with us, the professors, and then with the partners’ teams at different levels (sales management, category managers). This allowed us to develop this case study based on genuine information, which is rare enough to deserve mention.
For the first time, Ferrero and Leclerc exchanged confidential data on their KPI objectives, their product range mix, merchandising management and their clientele with segmentation of the Leclerc loyalty card holders. They came to understand each other better, establishing a better collaboration in category management, which benefits their business.
What did students take away from this Ferrero-Leclerc case study over these three years?
The Ferrero-Leclerc case study allowed students to step into the shoes of category managers who work both at the manufacturer and the distributer, which combined the two perspectives.
It dealt with offering the best possible strategy to combine the commercial interests of the E.Leclerc and Ferrero companies in the biscuits category, including their CSR strategies. This allowed students to learn to develop a categorical approach with recommendations on all the pillars of category management (product range mix, pricing, merchandising, special offers) and on the priority channels of the distributor (hypermarkets and click & collect).
It offers students a chance to develop their professionalism. In fact, this experience perfectly reflects what a category manager needs to do on a daily basis. It plunges the students into the profession and provides them with key skills and knowledge for their future career, whether they wish to enter category management, trade marketing or product manager.
Some students “discovered” the profession of category manager and then successfully applied for end-of-studies work placement or company positions with the manufacturer or retailer. Over three years, some students joined the category management team at Ferrero, Unilever, Danone, Auchan and Leclerc.
Each case study ends with a final report. What in the students’ work did you find surprising, amazing or praiseworthy?
Each year it’s very enriching to see the recommendations that the students make in their final report, and the new ideas that they propose about merchandising or special offers, for both our partner companies and for us.
Even if the bulk of the material in these case study has remained the same, and in their presentation the companies only update a part of the data relating to the market, their performance, the developments in e-merchandising for the click & collect circuit, point-of-sale merchandising, special offers activity and their brands, students still come up with different ideas and approaches. It’s very inspiring for us and the companies.