Handbook of Research on Retailing
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Handbook of Research on Retailing

Edited by Katrijn Gielens and Els Gijsbrechts

The advent of e-commerce and the rise of hard discounters have put severe pressure on traditional retail chains. Boundaries are blurring: traditional brick & mortar players are expanding their online operations and/or setting up their own discount banners, while the power houses of online retail are going physical, and hard discounters get caught up in the Wheel of Retailing. Even successful companies cannot sit back and rest, but need to prepare for the next wave of change. In the face of this complexity, it is all the more important to take stock of current knowledge, based on insights and experience from leading scholars in the field. What do we know from extant studies, and what are the ensuing best practices? What evolutions are ahead, and will current recipes still work in the future? This Handbook sheds light on these issues.
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Chapter 19: Category management and captains

Murali K. Mantrala and Omid Kamran-Disfani


This chapter focuses on two important contemporary concepts and practices within the realm of manufacturers–retailer relationships and strategic interactions: Category Management (CM) and Category Captainship (CC). Category management is a managerial philosophy and organizational concept in retailing that shapes a retailer’s tactical and store-level decisions. At the heart of this management and organizational practice is understanding and treating product categories as strategic business units. This chapter discusses (evolutions in) the CM process, and how CM impacts the main actors of consumer packaged goods marketing channels – manufacturers, retailers, and consumers. It reviews the advantages and drawbacks of the phenomenon of category captainship within the CM movement, as reflected by its predicted and observed impacts on the retailer, the category captain, consumers, and competing manufacturers using the common retailer. Finally, it considers the outstanding managerial questions in today’s retailing environment and outlines related avenues for future research and changes in practice.

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