Market basket analysis insights to support category management

Andres Musalem, Luis Aburto, Maximo Bosch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Purpose: This paper aims to present an approach to detect interrelations among product categories, which are then used to produce a partition of a retailer’s business into subsets of categories. The methodology also yields a segmentation of shopping trips based on the composition of each shopping basket. Design/methodology/approach: This work uses scanner data to uncover product category interdependencies. As the number of possible relationships among them can be very large, the authors introduce an approach that generates an intuitive graphical representation of these interrelationships by using data analysis techniques available in standard statistical packages, such as multidimensional scaling and clustering. Findings: The methodology was validated using data from a supermarket store. The analysis for that particular store revealed four groups of products categories that are often jointly purchased. The study of each of these groups allowed us to conceive the retail store under study as a small set of sub-businesses. These conclusions reinforce the strategic need for proactive coordination of marketing activities across interrelated product categories. Research limitations/implications: The approach is sufficiently general to be applied beyond the supermarket industry. However, the empirical findings are specific to the store under analysis. In addition, the proposed methodology identifies cross-category interrelations, but not their underlying sources (e.g. marketing or non-marketing interrelations). Practical implications: The results suggest that retailers could potentially benefit if they transition from the traditional category management approach where retailers manage product categories in isolation into a customer management approach where retailers identify, acknowledge and leverage interrelations among product categories. Originality/value: The authors present a fast and wide-range approach to study the shopping behavior of customers, detect cross-category interrelations and segment the retailer’s business and customers based on information about their shopping baskets. Compared to existing approaches, its simplicity should facilitate its implementation by practitioners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1550-1573
Number of pages24
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - 21 Jun 2018


  • Category management
  • Customer segmentation
  • Market basket analysis
  • Marketing analytics
  • Multidimensional scaling
  • Retail Management


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