Today I want to pay homage to the god of incrementalism. The idea that rather than find a giant leap forward for our category (we know how that worked for the Chinese), in cat man we mostly operate a continuous process of finding the small improvements that keep moving us towards “better”. And nudging the bottom line upwards.

I know it’s not glamorous but its what’s propelled many Industries forwards for decades (we can’t all be Apple). Engineers in factories invented the idea of benchmarking. The core idea is to identify another production line that makes widgets just a bit faster than you do then compare how you and they do it. It’s the benchmarking that unlocks the potential. That’s because incremental change can be tricky to identify.

Most of our profession’s work in Category management is of this kind. Fine tuning the range, optimizing the display, working out what promotions really do the best job for the top line, and the bottom line. Maybe unfairly we are not yet part of an Oscar winning, ‘awards dinner’ profession. It’s not for us to be celebrated from the roof tops. Rather we work solidly week in week out to find out what shoppers want more of, and less of, and we figure out how give it to them. Like Engineers in factories, benchmarking helps us do that. Comparing who is doing it better than us learning, then adopting. Test and Learn.

Relative data is where the power is. Whether that’s comparing market share, comparing sales growth, comparing penetration, comparing basket size, or comparing perceptions. Benchmarking is our toolkit, incremental change our vehicle. And let’s celebrate that.