ASSIGNMENT 1 – Weeks 2 & 3
Product Development & Operations: Category Manager Analysis
Due Date: Week 3
Note: While representative of possible situations faced by Alikay Naturals, all scenarios in this assignment are fictional.
Let’s roll up our sleeves and use what we’ve learned this week in a real-life business situation. Each week, you’ll encounter a scenario where you will assume the role of a businessperson at or who works at a national discount retail store, like a Walmart or Target. These companies provide important, everyday staples for millions of people across the country and have become very successful businesses in the process.
Discount retail stores have locations in communities across the country. They often have strong and recognizable brands that are household names. We will explore how business works throughout this course by taking on a few of the many different roles at successful companies like these.
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This week, you’ll assume the role of a Category Manager for the Beauty Products category at a national discount retail store.
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What Is a Category Manager?
Category Managers are responsible for related groups of products (for example, baseball equipment or laundry detergents) for a retail business. They use research, information and insights about the category to change shopper behavior and increase sales of the products in the category. They also work with the suppliers of the products in their category to ensure that good products and services are available to customers.
As a Category Manager, part of your role is to analyze data and information about how well a product is selling to help the maker of that product improve the product and consider introducing new products. Rochelle and her team at Alikay Naturals have asked you, the Beauty Products Category Manager, to review one of their products and determine where it lies in the product life cycle. Additionally, they have asked you to recommend ways to improve the product in order to increase sales.
Step 1: Product Life Cycle
Read the Product Report for Alikay Naturals Moisturizing Black Soap Shampoo. The Product Report contains important information that will help you to identify where the product stands in the Product Life Cycle and give you clues about what changes customers might like to see. Respond to Rochelle and her team at Alikay Naturals based on the information in the Product Report.
1 Identify where Moisturizing Black Soap Shampoo is currently positioned in the product life cycle and describe the rationale for your position.
2 Compose 3 questions that Rochelle should pose to her team to better understand the product’s positioning and potential at this particular stage in its life cycle. (E.g., if you have determined the product is in the Introduction Phase, you might suggest the question: How have competitors priced similar products?)
Step 2: Product Changes
Based on what you’ve learned:
1 What recommendation(s) do you have for Alikay Naturals to improve or replace Moisturizing Black Soap Shampoo?
Step 3: New Product Development
Read the New Product Proposal, which contains three examples of possible products that could be developed to replace Moisturizing Black Soap Shampoo. Based on the information in this proposal and the customer feedback in the Product Report:
1 If you had to recommend one product, which product would you recommend they create? Explain your decision.
2 Determine which type of innovation this represents from among the four main types discussed this week. Briefly explain why you chose that type of innovation.
Note: You should complete Step 4 after reading the material in Week 3.
Step 4: Production Methods
Based on your understanding of Alikay’s position in the product life cycle and expected sales volume:
1 Which production method do you think Alikay is using for the Black Soap Shampoo? Explain your rationale.
2 If Alikay chose to keep the Moisturizing Black Soap Shampoo and launch your recommended product as a “limited time only” trial, what production method should Alikay use for the test market product? Why?
Step 5: Real-World Application
1 Choose a product at your company or one that you are familiar with that is in the mature stage of the product life cycle. Briefly describe the product, why you believe it is in this phase, and what improvements could be made to change its current path.