Kroger upends the “category captain” model

Kroger has announced that its liquor/beer/wine departments will no longer be managed by “category captains,” such as InBev or Diageo. The concept of category captains involves using outside vendors to handle shelf space management and planogram resets for all manufacturers in its category — not just for its own goods. Kroger wants to “own the process” despite the added cost that it may be assuming. Here’s my opinion from a recent RetailWire discussion:

Category captains probably make the task of space management easier and more cost-efficient for both the retailers and smaller vendors who don’t have the internal resources. But I always thought the model was a case of “the fox guarding the henhouse.” Certainly InBev (for example) will have its own best interest at heart, no matter how much the retailers look over the captains’ shoulders.

If Kroger is prepared to take over the cost and task management (including more frequent product resets), the change ought to be beneficial to the consumer and ultimately Kroger’s market share.

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