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    The Best of the Best: 2003 Category Captains

    Familiar faces dominate they year's Category Captains results, but some interesting shifts have occurred.

    It's all about successful partnerships. That's what most convenience store retailers and suppliers would say if asked what makes for a productive and profitable category management program. And the leading suppliers to the industry have fostered such strong relationships with c-store operators that they have been named again and again, year after year, as the best in the business in the annual CSNews Category Captains awards, conducted in partnership with marketing and management consulting firm Cannondale Associates.

    Take Anheuser-Busch, for example. The brewery giant has consistently topped its category, and with remarkable numbers — this year, a whopping 98.8 percent of retailers surveyed named the company the best business operator in the beer/wine/liquor category. That puts A-B at the top of the heap of all suppliers in all categories; other top scorers include U.S. Smokeless Tobacco (89.6 percent), Pepsi-Cola (85.7 percent), Coca-Cola (83.6 percent) and Hershey (80.9 percent).

    Some suppliers might want to take a closer look at their retailer relationships after dropping in the rankings this year. Among the most precipitous drops were those suffered by Kellogg/Keebler, Miller Brewing, Nabisco's cookie and cracker division and Masterfoods.

    Those companies might want to look to some of this year's big movers and see what they're doing right. Significant increases were posted by Coors Brewing, Interstate Bakeries, General Mills, Swisher and Brown & Williamson.

    On the retail side, it's all 7-Eleven as usual, though ConocoPhillips and Wawa continue to post solid numbers. More interesting is the emergence of such retail outlets as Wal-Mart and Safeway, both of which are making tentative forays into convenience marketing.

    About Cannondale Associates
    Cannondale Associates is a leading marketing and management consulting firm with offices in Wilton, Conn., and Evanston, Ill.

    Focus. The company's focus is on business growth. Cannondale helps manufacturers grow their brands and strengthen their brand equity by more effectively addressing the rapidly changing interface with their retailer customers.

    Expertise. The company's expertise is in many of the critical areas surrounding the manufacturer/retailer relationship:

    Benchmarking. Identifying best practices and developing action steps to improve the return on investment of organization design, work processes and business disciplines of sales, marketing, logistics and trade marketing.

    Trade Promotion Strategy. Developing trade strategies to more effectively and efficiently invest trade dollars in a way that maximizes the positive effect on brand equity.

    Consumer Marketing at Retail. Using breakthrough shopper-based consumer insight to build total department/aisle, category and brand growth and profitability.

    Experience. Cannondale's consulting staff consists of sales and marketing professionals with an average of 16 years of business experience with blue-chip packaged goods companies such as Coca-Cola, General Mills, Pillsbury, Procter & Gamble, Quaker Oats and Unilever.

    Value-Added Capabilities. Cannondale Associates has a strong research and analytics group with proprietary analytic techniques, an applications development team to help sales and marketing routinize non-value-added activity in the promotion analysis and efficient assortment disciplines, and ShopperGenetics™, a loyalty/equity assessment division.

    For more information about Cannondale, please call Ken Harris at Cannondale Associates at 203-834-2800.

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