Progressive Grocer 2020 Category Captains Nomination Form

The 2020 Category Captains Awards

Nominations are now being accepted!

Thank you for your interest in Progressive Grocer’s 24th annual Category Captains Awards: the COVID-19 Edition. Category management has never been more important for retailers of food and consumables, but this disciplined approach to leveraging insights to forecast demand and develop strategies to drive total category and total store performance suffered a body blow this year.

The onset of COVID-19 led to unprecedented challenges for retailers and their trading partners and thwarted traditional approaches to category management. Retailers adjusted their promotional efforts, shopper insights-driven engagement strategies and basket-building tactics. The new realities of the pandemic meant months of hard work to develop sales and profit-building strategies and total store shopper solutions had to be adjusted and readjusted.

We’ve adjusted, too. This year’s Category Captains award program will continue to recognize overall excellence in innovative, profit-generating category management efforts that help retailers grow sales and profits while satisfying shoppers. However, the submission criteria have been tweaked to better reflect volatile marketplace realities and an overall operating environment. Those worthy of the distinction of Category Captain this year also demonstrated increased speed, agility, resourcefulness and responsiveness.

Accordingly, there’s a blend of familiar and new requirements in this year’s COVID-19 edition of the Category Captains Awards. For example, the following are some things to consider as you complete your submission:

  • What was the most important new shopper insight or innovation you brought to your retail customers since June of last year?
  • How did your organization pivot at the onset of the pandemic, how quickly did you do so, and what were the results?
  • What sort of new operational challenges did your organization overcome amid the COVID-19 outbreak to provide support to retailers and a nation in the midst of a national emergency?
  • How did the new insights or innovations that your company developed build total category volume?
  • How did your initiative promote connectivity between complementary store departments?
  • What problem did your initiative help consumers solve?
  • How did your initiative boost basket size, trips or overall store sales?
  • Were you able to leverage artificial intelligence to optimize assortments or pricing decisions?
  • Did your category program gain new accounts and expand existing ones?
  • How did your platform invigorate a dormant or declining category, or create a new one to address an unmet consumer need?
  • Did it leverage social media or mobile technologies in a new and creative way?
  • How did your platform address the unique needs or issues of your retail customers?
  • What are your retail partners saying about your category management efforts?

Here’s what to do next….

Step 1

Familiarize yourself with the contest rules

  1. Entries are due no later than October 9, 2020.
  2. Multiple entries from the same company are permitted, as long as the concepts are entirely different, up to a maximum of five total entries per company. Please submit each entry in its own separate online entry form.
  3. All entries must include an overview synopsis of 400 words or fewer.
  4. Entries must include a high-resolution photo (.tif or .jpg format) of your products/lines. It’s also helpful to submit images of how the initiative came to life in store or online.

To begin the process, see below:

Progressive Grocer 2020 Category Captains Entry
Please complete all fields marked with an asterisk

Step 2

Now comes the fun part! In 400 words or fewer, describe NEW key category management initiatives that your company/organization has employed over the past 12 months. The synopsis should include compelling examples of new programs, technologies, business systems, merchandising schemes and/or promotional tactics that played a key role in your category development initiatives.

Where possible, include verifiable comparable market-specific or account-specific sales or market share data that supports your claims about the effectiveness of your category management program/platform (Please note: This data is used only for judging purposes and will not be published.)

Some helpful points to consider when composing your synopsis include:

  • Tell a story about how your category leadership innovation supported customers’ needs and built sales.
  • Impress with details of decisive actions takes to support retailers and shoppers during the peak pandemic months while ensuring the safety of your own employees.
  • The more specifics, the better, especially considering the data-driven nature of category management.
  • Digital matters more than ever, so be sure to mention how mobile and social were leveraged.
  • Lastly, what do your retail partners think of your category management skills? Please include any brief direct feedback/quotes with your entry from select retail partners, including their names, companies and titles. PLEASE NOTE: Progressive Grocer will NOT reveal the names of supermarket chains/executives cited in abstracts, unless we are given express permission to publish them by each applicant.
0/400 words

Step 3

Only a few more things are needed: If available, submit any supporting verifiable comparable market-specific or account-specific sales or market share data that validates claims about the effectiveness of your category management program/platform. Please indicate if data is not for publication.


Step 4

Almost done! Be sure to submit up to five high-resolution electronic images of one or more of the products/programs mentioned in your synopsis, in-store images, merchandising vehicles or digital imagery of how the product/program came to life online. .JPG, .PNG. and .TIFF, formats preferred, 20 megabyte maximum per file.


We appreciate your thoughtfulness in completing this submission form. The team at Progressive Grocer looks forward to evaluating your entry. If you have any questions, please contact Mike Troy at 813-857-6512 or

Thank you for your entry!