what is a category manager?

As a category manager, your primary focus is to enhance the development and use of a product or service. Since you manage a specific product category, you are responsible for promoting and pricing its products. You also develop strategies to promote the marketing efforts for a product category and increase sales.

Some category managers also research new ideas like substitutes and complementary goods for the categories to improve product visibility and revenue. As a category manager, you will work in teams throughout the research and development stages and develop strategic marketing plans to boost customer engagement and promotions. You rely on data analysis to understand valuable category insights like customer behaviour and purchases and use the information to drive growth.

what does a category manager do?

As a category manager, you satisfy consumer and company needs. That means you need in-depth knowledge of the target consumer, from their preferences and where they purchase their products to the popular promotion methods in the demographic. You spend time researching promotional methods suitable for the target audience of your product category. You determine product prices by balancing the company's profit margin with competitor prices. You also devise ways to use prices to attract more sales and upsell other products in the category using discounts.

Would working as a category manager suit your interest in sales and strategic thinking skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a category manager role.

category manager jobs

average salary of a category manager

The average salary of a category manager according to ONS is £47,017 per year or £24.11 per hour. At an entry-level position, a category manager earns an average salary of £38,831 annually. When you have built your experience and improved your educational qualifications, your earnings increase to £60,446 per year. Senior category managers earn a median salary of £55,029 annually and take home up to £70,000 per year with additional experience.

what affects the salary of a category manager?

A category manager's salary mainly depends on experience and academic qualifications. Hence, you can improve your salary prospects by elevating your education level or adding an extra degree or certifications to your resume. As a category manager, you should have diverse experience in various aspects of the job. Working in various industries improves your exposure and experience level. Some employers also pay based on the job's complexity. If you work on technical product categories, you are likely to earn more than working on retail goods. The company size also affects your earnings since large multinationals have the resources to pay higher salaries and additional benefits. You will also work in a specific product category. Small businesses usually assign additional responsibilities to category managers, and the pay is low due to the limited resources.

3 persons having a meeting and sitting at a table
3 persons having a meeting and sitting at a table

types of category managers

Some types of category managers include:

  • retail category manager: as a category manager working for a retailer, you devote your time to inventory management, price planning and visual merchandising. You also meet with suppliers to ensure optimal prices for a product category. Your role involves identifying gaps and helping the retailer capitalise on new trends by allocating additional shelf space and increasing the visibility of fast-moving products. Retail category managers also ensure the correct product assortment is provided to consumers.
  • supply category manager: when you are working for a supplier, you improve the performance of a specific product category in various stores. You can devise ways to maximise shelf space and placement and analyse competitor products' performance in a store. Most category managers working with suppliers spend time negotiating with retailers on the placement of the product categories. 

working as a category manager

The job of a category manager is to maximise revenue by providing the right products to the consumers at the appropriate time. To become a category manager, you need a firm grasp of daily activities.


education and skills

A career as a category manager requires the following educational qualifications:

  • university degree: before you become a category manager, you need to develop a marketing strategy, consumer behaviour and business statistics knowledge. You can pursue a bachelor's degree course in marketing or business management. An MBA is also an added advantage.
  • work experience: since category manager is a leadership role, you need some years of experience, even in an entry-level position. You can complete a marketing and management internship or join a graduate trainee programme to improve your skills and experience. Voluntary work and job placement in university also improve your prospects.

skills and competencies

Improve the following skills for a successful career as a category manager:

  • commercial expertise: as a category manager, it is crucial to understand the ongoing industry scenario, from procurement-related risks and investment outcomes to consumer spending and pricing models. Commercial expertise also helps you close deals and create strategic plans for product categories.
  • project management skills: a category manager supervises various aspects of the product, including development and stakeholder management. You need project management skills to navigate cross-functional working styles and manage various aspects of product development, such as budgeting and time management.
  • digital expertise: as a category manager, you have to utilise technology to improve the performance of your category. Computer skills help with data analysis, digital campaigns and procurement or inventory management. You also need knowledge of Microsoft Office to prepare reports.
  • strategic thinking: your job involves initiating strategic plans that improve product category sales or product development. That means you need strategic thinking skills to analyse various strategies and tailor the marketing approach to suit a product range.
  • management skills: as a category manager, you work with various departments in the organisation. Leadership and management skills help you coordinate the groups and motivate your teams towards a specific goal.
two colleagues walking and having conversation outdoor
two colleagues walking and having conversation outdoor


FAQs about working as a category manager

thank you for subscribing to your personalised job alerts.