Progressive Grocer 2021 Category Captains Nomination Form

The 2021 Category Captains Awards

Nominations are now being accepted!

Thank you for your interest in Progressive Grocer’s 25th annual Category Captains Awards. This program recognizes leadership among supplier companies that serve America’s retailers of food and consumables and is the longest-running program of its type. We are glad you are here and interested in sharing your company’s story of category leadership.

We’ve all been through a lot during the past 18 months. The onset of the pandemic in early 2020 caused tremendous disruption to consumer behavior, retail operations and trading partner business practices. The discipline of category management was upended last year, and it required Progressive Grocer to adjust the criteria by which supplier initiatives were evaluated.

Those criteria have been adjusted again for 2021 as the retail world has moved closer toward normalcy, even though the pandemic situation remains dynamic. The discipline of category management remains dynamic, too, amid a still evolving pandemic situation that pushed attributes such as speed, agility and resourcefulness to the fore last year.

Those qualities remain highly desirable among retailers’ trading partners, but the moderation of pandemic conditions has renewed the emphasis on more traditional aspects of category management. For example, there is again an elevated need for retailers to work closely with suppliers that offer great products, leverage consumer insights, provide accurate demand forecasts, have agile supply chains, make data-driven pricing and promotion decisions, employ advanced analytics, and drive demand through innovative shopper engagement strategies.

These are just a few of the broad attributes that make a supplier worthy of the distinction of Category Captain.  However, to truly make such a determination, more specifics are needed.  As you complete your entry form, we would ask you to consider the following:

  • What was the most important shopper insight or innovation you brought to your retail partners since June of last year?
  • How did your organization address pandemic-driven supply chain challenges to ensure retailers of all types had adequate product quantities?
  • Which new methods of collaborating with retailers were especially innovative or creative?
  • Which new operational challenges did your organization overcome as COVID-19 lingered?
  • How did the new insights or innovations your company developed build total category volume?
  • How did your initiative promote connectivity between complementary store departments?
  • How did your initiative boost basket size, trips or overall store sales?
  • Were you able to leverage artificial intelligence to optimize assortments or optimize pricing decisions?
  • Did your initiative invigorate a dormant or declining category, or create a new one to address an unmet consumer need?
  • How were digital methods such as social media or retail media leveraged?
  • 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 September 29, 2021.
  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 and/or your company logo. It’s also helpful to submit images of how the initiative came to life in store or online.

To begin the process, please complete all fields marked with an asterisk.

Step 2

Now comes the fun part!  In 400 words or fewer, describe NEW category management initiatives your company executed during the past 12 months. The synopsis should include compelling examples of new programs, collaborative approaches, 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 confidential and used only for judging purposes.)

Some helpful points to consider when composing your synopsis include the following:

  • Tell a story about how your category leadership innovation supported customers’ needs and built sales.
  • Impress with details of decisive actions taken to support retailers and shoppers.
  • 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.
  • If available, include testimonials from retail partners. This information will also be kept confidential.
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 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. Images must be 300 dpi in resolution, in .tif or .jpg format; 4x4 preferable for size.


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!

(PS: Winners will be notified in mid-October and featured in the December issue of Progressive Grocer and online at