The Category Exploration System

The Category Exploration system (CEx) is a PC-based computer system that writes a review of a product category. Within the consumer packaged goods industry, the review can be used for several functions by both manufacturers and retailers. CEx does more than examine the performance of individual items and the category as a whole. It is an exploration system, which means that it searches through all the possible sets of items within a product category (brands, sizes, colors, flavors, etc.) for the ones that are most interesting, as compared with the competition.

A manufacturer can utilize the CEx system in both the brand management and sales groups. In the brand management group, the system can be used to evaluate a brand, relative to the competition. In the sales group, the system can be used to prepare a sales representative for a visit to a retail chain. Also, the sales group can take advantage of this system to support a retail chain as it prepares for a category review. A retailer can also utilize this system to perform several category reviews. A retailer can evaluate its own business in a category, relative to the competition. Also, a retailer can evaluate business in a category in one of its stores, relative to all other stores.

CEx presents its results in one of two forms: as a written report or in a unique visual display of the category, its brands, its sizes, etc. The written report is actually a word processor document containing text, tables, charts, and graphs. The first section of the review report summarizes the performance of the category as a whole. Additional summaries are provided if interesting subsets of the category are identified during the exploration phase. The visual display of the category presents a capsule summary of the category using a hierarchical view. Share of category, performance relative to the competition, and trend are shown in a non-tabular form.

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