USE: Organizing your product structure efficiently is key for creating more straightforward surveys and more specific reports. Your Involves Stage portfolio can be divided in levels: supercategories, categories, product lines and SKUs (optional). Registering products is a required step before creating your forms.
Involves Stage has a structure that lets you categorize product portfolios both for your company and your competition. Defining this structure is an essential step in the creation of the surveys you will later send out to your field team and for extracting segmented reports. The structure in the system is divided in four levels (besides the brand):
- Product Line
- Products (SKUs)
The chart displays the relation between categories:
Look at the example structure:
Supercategory is at the top of the structure and therefore can comprehend one or more categories. Don’t use the name of a product or brand to name the supercategory. The name may be related to type of product. For example, companies in the food industry normally use supercategories like:
- Cocoa Powder
- Hard Candy
- Cereal Bar
- Morning Cereal
A category is a group with products in a product line that is similar across brands. It represents a direct comparison and each one can only be associated with one supercategory.
Segmenting the product portfolios into categories is important for comparing many items within the same group in terms of price, share of shelf, on-shelf availability, presence, etc. It wouldn’t make much sense to compare a product that weighs 6oz with one that weighs 3oz, for instance.
Following with the food industry examples, categories would have the following format:
- Cocoa Powder
The system does not allow for two of the same category. Even across supercategories. If that happens, you will need to add up information they don’t have in common to make them distinct. Otherwise you might have problems importing or generating reports. For example:
Before registering product lines you must register brands. This is not yet the moment to define whether the brands are yours or your competitors’. Remember that a brand can have a number of products in different categories and supercategories.
Product lines are the most important units registered in Involves Stage. A great amount of the reports is based on product lines. A given product line will always be related to one brand and one category only. It is at this point that you will define if the product belongs to your company or to a competitor.
A given product lone may include one or more SKUs, therefore definitions of flavor, fragrance or color are left out of this level. That is done at the product level. Look at some product lines examples:
- Cream-filled cookies 6oz Cookie Lovers
- Crackers 6oz Cookie Biters
- Cream-filled cookies 3ozCookie Lovers
- Crackers 3oz Cookie Biters
Many companies organize their structures up to the product line - a format accepted by Involves Stage and which allows you to sufficiently manage your portfolio. This is a common scenario when products vary little in terms of flavor, fragrance or color. Look at your operation and assess the need to group products into product lines.
The product or SKU is associated to each unit of a certain product. It is the lowest level of the hierarchical structure of your portfolio and is always linked to a product line. This is where you can establish distinctive details like colors and flavors of a product line. For example:
- Crackers 6ozSour cream and onion
- Crackers 6ozTurkey breast
- Crackers 6ozCheddar
When you are creating a field survey keep in mind that in some cases it will be easier to conduct a survey on product lines and in other occasions on SKUs. For instance, if you want to carry out a survey on price there is no need to survey SKUs if you consider that all products in a product line have the same price. That means it is usually more practical for your field team to respond surveys about product lines only. However, if your survey is on on-shelf availability the selection of a SKU makes sense since products of a certain flavor may be out of stock first.
Now that you know the product structure in Involves Stage, learn how to enter your portfolio on the system. There are two ways you can do that: