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What Are the Challenges Faced by Category Managers? Category Management Article 3

Debayan Ganguly (Dev Ayan) is an MBA with 2 years of experience in B2B sales. He likes to share his learnings through blogs and videos.



There are many challenges a Category Manager has to face in their day-to-day activities. In my previous articles, I defined category management, its steps, and best practices.

In this article, I will focus on the challenges a Category Manager has to face and how they can mitigate these challenges.

I read tons of articles to come up with these points to get a comprehensive post with all the points in one place for you.


Category Management, in essence, requires a lot of human involvement. From handling products, analysing the data, and understanding consumer behaviour, a category manager's job requires dynamicity on a daily basis.

Because People are an integral part of Category Management, they also become a challenge if not taken proper care of.

People here refer to both the employees of your company and other stakeholders.


At times, your management may not be interested in your category or the changes you suggest. Upper Management, at times, will have no idea about the micro-challenges that you face. But because Management needs to get involved during the change, they need to empathise with your category and take active participation in the decision making.

You can mitigate this challenge by involving them in your category right from the start.


Another set of challenges you may have to face on the people's end is not having enough skilled workforce to carry on with the category activities. The gap between the required skillset and the available skillset becomes a challenge.

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You can mitigate this challenge by training your workers. Focus on developing the skills of your employees.


Stakeholders have little or no idea about the procurement department's work when you are procuring, which proves a bane for the category. Procurement should happen with knowledge and consent of the stakeholders. Supplier Relationship has to be built with the company stakeholders, and you can only go forward with your department only when this relationship is well established.

To mitigate this challenge, again, you need to update the activities of your category and keep them in the loop whenever a decision is being made.

Information Collection

As data collection and sound analysis become the core of any decision making, the data you rely on for your decision making becomes paramount. Getting hold of good data becomes difficult, and each category has 100s of SKUs. And data collected from the market has 10s of variables for each SKU. Verifying these multitudes of data becomes a cumbersome task.

Thus, despite having a large number of data, they don't get the results they desire. As Oliver Wyman mentions: most retailers are data rich and insight poor.

To mitigate these challenges, the data collection and presentation has to be comprehensive. The data that can benefit the decision-making process has to be presented. To judge supplier performance, only the data related to supplier efficiency and other KPIs must be presented and analysed, the same for product performance.


Category Managers need to deal with many day-to-day activities that don't leave them with time good enough for planning for the future. In such a scenario, the updating, changes, and technological up-gradation gets delayed.

The managers are so pressurised with the short term activities that they can not plan or engage in activities that will benefit them and the category in the long run.

This discourages the adoption of automation, and the status quo remains for a significantly larger amount of time.

To mitigate this, the need for change has to come from the management. They need to understand the benefits of investing time in making the change happens against their regular activities.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Debayan Ganguly

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