Food marketing student first to complete advanced category management certification

Contact: Amy Coughenour

KALAMAZOO, Mich.Katelyn Wandel, a senior at Western Michigan University majoring in food and consumer package goods marketing, is the first individual in the industry to complete the advanced WMU Professional Category Management Certification. 

Katelyn Wandel

The certification is intended to provide additional education to further professionals in the industry. Dr. Russell Zwanka, director of the program and associate professor of marketing says, “The certification helps assert fundamental category management principles and applies them in various settings, from consumer packaged goods to retailers to wholesalers. We’ve had numerous companies switch to our certification, which was developed with our partners at Learning Evolution.” 

At WMU Haworth, students can receive their Level One certification through category management courses. Recognizing the value of her foundational skills introduced in Level One, Wandel was excited to be the first to take the next step to complete Level Two certification.  

“I now have a greater understanding of how on-shelf strategy impacts the food and beverage industry and how strategies may need to shift to better impact the business,” Wandel says. “This certification gave me the opportunity to not only increase my knowledge of the industry but also to make my transition to the workplace much smoother. Not many people enter the industry initially with strong category management knowledge.” 

The course explores different modules about retail data, understanding customer motivations, retail financial decisions and more. Over the course of one semester, the certification begins with a pre-test, followed by 10 different modules using videos and check-ins. A post-test and the certification exam round out the certification process.  

“Everyone needs to sharpen their skills, and this certification helps at all levels in the industry,” says Zwanka. “The rapid adoption by multiple companies shows there was a need in the marketplace for a university-based, affordable certification.” 

Throughout the process of receiving her certification, Wandel says she has appreciated Zwanka’s support of her future in food marketing.  

With the initial success of the program, 10 more students are currently slated to gain the Level Two Certification as well.  

About the certification  

The WMU Professional Category Management Certification offers an innovative program for partners in the food industry, as well as to other universities with food marketing-focused programs. It is the only university-based category management certification program on the market today that offers industry professionals advanced category management skills. For more information about enrolling, visit the website.

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