Inaugural Awards for the Category Management and Shopper Insights Industry

March 10, 2023, CHICAGO, IL – The CMA | SIMA announce four inaugural awards for category management and shopper insights to spotlight the best of the best within the industry. The diverse accomplishments of members are a testament to the talents and unique contributions each make to retail, and CMA | SIMA were proud to recognize the winners during 2023 Annual Conference in Las Vegas in front of over 850 of their peers.

2022 Category Manager of the Year Award

The Category Management Association recognized Jason Williams, Category Manager Accessories and Outdoor, of NAPA Auto Parts as the Category Manager of the Year. Jason transformed the Accessories category from one of the company’s most lagging to leading in just one year. He utilized a number of internal and external datapoints, including a SEMA market study, along with a deep customer segmentation study to identify two core target consumer segments that over index spend in Accessory / 4WD categories.

After Jason Williams optimized operational, financial, and customer trade-offs, the entire category grew over 30% in 2022. In addition to top line sales growth, physical inventory was reduced by an incredible $10M +. Accessories has increased from less than 1% of online sales to 11%, and the productivity of inventory increased significantly, as measured by exceptional improvement in both return on inventory (GMROI) and return on space (GMROS) in store and in DC.

Napa show room

Jason was nominated by his boss and friend Cameron Richardson, Senior Vice President Consumer Merchandise at NAPA, who accepted the award on his behalf.

In memoriam – Jason Williams 1980 – 2023.

Shopper Insight of the Year Award Banner

The Category Management Association and Shopper Insights Management Association recognized the Tyson Insights Team as the recipient of the 2022 Shopper Insights of the Year Award for reorganizing fresh meat around need states. The Shopper Insight of the Year Award recognizes an individual or team that delivered the most impactful insight derived from shopper research that resulted in measurable improvement in a category or subcategory in 2022.

In 2022, the Tyson Insight Team discovered an accurate portrayal of customer behavior and need state within the fresh meat category in grocery. The transformation of the meat department from low-effort to high effort meal preparation categories resulted in an average 9% growth for fresh chicken versus control stores and 4% higher versus pre-period. The success of this test led to a chain wide rollout. With the success of the fresh chicken category reflow and signage, a leading retailer reorganized the department according to low effort to high effort insight. Kathy Rietschel, Director of Shopper Insights at Tyson Foods accepted the Shopper Insights of the Year Award on behalf of the Tyson Foods Shopper Insights Team.

Social Impact Award

The Category Management Association and Shopper Insights Management Association presented Frontier Co-op with the 2022 Social Impact Award for their Breaking Down Barriers to Employment initiative. The Social Impact Award is given to celebrate the positive contributions of a company or team that has addressed the needs of a community or non-profit organization. This company actively encouraged volunteerism to a specific organization or case that benefited a disadvantaged or underserved group, outside any monetary gains or notoriety.

Nowhere is the “doing good, works” mindset more critical than with the co-op’s relationships with employees through their Breaking Down Barriers to Employment initiative. This program actively works to address barriers that employees face to be successful in their rolls such as access to child-care, transportation, skills and more.

A key pillar of the Breaking Down Barriers to Employment initiative is second-chance hiring practices and apprenticeship programs that help people build important skills and work experience to be successful within the co-op, the manufacturing industry, and their community. To date, 143 individuals have benefitted from Frontier Co-op’s apprenticeship program, 15% of production employees have been hired through Second Chance hiring practices, and more than 30 employees utilize their busing program each day.

Ryan Cunha, Director of Category Management for Frontier Co-op, accepted the Social Impact Award on stage at the conference. 

2022 Lifetime Achievement Award

The Category Management Association and Shopper Insights Management Association presented Craig Hodnett, Vice President of Category Management & Retail Strategy at Simply Good Foods Company with the CMA | SIMA Lifetime Achievement Award. This award recognizes the professional accomplishments of an individual from within the Category Management and Shopper Insights industry that have made a significant and lasting impact. Craig has been recognized by his peers as “among the best in the industry” and Consumer Goods Technology Magazine described Craig as an “influential visionary.”

2022 Lifetime Achievement Award

Over the past 30 years, Craig has not only excelled in his career, but he has made sure to make time to support the growth of others in the industry through mentorship and leadership. Craig has been described as “kind, thoughtful, and an extremely effective leader.” Craig has played an important role in key industry initiatives such as participation in steering committees for the CPG industry, assisting in the creation of Category Management 2.0, and co-developed new Big Data capability communication along with a new Assortment Model. He currently serves on the CMA advisory board.

2022 Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award

Dan Strunk has been a pillar of the Category Management Association since its inception in the early 2000s, helping founder Donna Frazier write the original standards for the industry. In 2014 Dan established The Higher Education Board for the CMA, a set of schools chartered to build curriculum and expand the reach of the category management discipline into universities to attract more to our field, and he still serves as Managing Director Center for Sales Leadership at DePaul University in Chicago.

Dan’s entire body of work demonstrates his mastery of the sales and marketing fields within CPG and retail, eventually helping to create the function that is category management. Our field, and the CMA, would not be where it is today without Dan’s accomplishments. The CMA is honored to present the Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award to Dan Strunk.

Congratulations to the 2022 winners; the CMA | SIMA plan to continue the awards annually, stay tuned for nominations to open for 2023.