Category Entry Points In Action

Category Entry Points are a wonderful concept for helping marketers create more strategic marketing plans. The thinking, developed by Bryon Sharp and Jenni Romaniuk of the Ehrenberg Bass Institute, can be the unlock to a more focused brand strategy. Below are some examples of CEPs in action to show how their use can drive your strategy & tactics. Spanning advertising messaging, strategic initiatives, physical availability, measurement, and product innovation among other areas, their use has so many applications.

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Aperol Spritz is one of the best examples of Category Entry Points in the alcohol category, with a heavy focus on the apéritif moment. The apéritif is a pre-dinner drink traditionally very popular in southern Europe to stimulate an appetite, but now very much a ritual for many a consumer across most demographics globally. The focus on this CEP helped Aperol create a foothold across cafes & restaurants globally, creating a popular ask for consumers, while also heavily featuring on menus. Aperol to this day still focuses on this CEP across their communications, in doing so knowing its importance, but as the brand has scaled in more mature markets it has also become salient for at-home consumption CEPs, especially in times of good weather. In addition, the serve has become a key Distinctive Brand Asset for Aperol, helping create a distinctive brand.

Many brands can learn from this approach, having one or a few hero CEPs that remain consistent and drive volume, which can be the focus in early-stage markets. However, the breadth of CEPs should grow over time in order to scale, hence brands like Aperol also put lots of energy into the off-trade to target at-home gatherings or other new related CEPs. This is a further example of where mental and physical availability overlap. The brand, through its communications, needs to drive salience for “drinking at home” CEPs, but they also need to be prominent from a physical availability perspective, ensuring good listings and shopper marketing specials.


Snickers is a great example of how to use CEPs to cut through in a very competitive category such as chocolate & confectionary. A rudimentary strategy for Snickers would be to solely focus on driving awareness of Snickers as a chocolate bar, measured using metrics such as prompted or top-of-mind awareness only. This is still quite a common approach for many FMCG/CPG brands, having a blunt strategy with little focus or prioritisation. Snickers took a different approach to cut through which can be seen via their “You’re not you when you’re hungry” campaigns. We hypothesise that their strategy here would be along the lines of “Become the snack of choice for hungry people the world over”, with a focus on being salient for the CEP(s) around those moments of hunger outside of meals. They then executed this excellently in advertising, with campaign messaging associating the brand with these CEPs. Snickers also benefited from their focus CEP(s) having a universal appeal, therefore it could be rolled out globally, albeit with nuances by market.

The measurement of these CEP(s) also helps show how our definitions of categories as marketers does not reflect real life and is quite limiting. A common measure, with the blunt strategy mentioned above, would likely be “What chocolate bars do you consider/think of?”. In their more focused strategy around snacking outside of meals, Snickers are competing with several categories, food types and brands. Some people would satisfy their hunger with a bag of popcorn, others crisps/chips, and others perhaps with some healthy nuts. By measuring against snacking & hunger-related CEPs, Snickers has a better picture of brand health and indeed their direct and indirect competitors.


Walkers Crisps is the UK’s largest savoury snack brand (crisps/chips) with around 25% of the market. Walkers Crisps is such a big brand because it is so salient across so many entry points. As a big brand, they are smartly & consistently looking for new opportunities to grow sales further. They identified that crisps make a “lunchtime sandwich more exciting” but less than one in ten eat crisps at lunch. The brand tried to change people’s lunchtime behaviour, by associating the snacking of crisps with sandwiches or other lunchtime meals as a way of opening up more of the market. As well as driving this via communications, one can see how this plays out via physical availability with a focus on driving additional distribution via sandwich or cafe chains to create a truly omnichannel campaign.


Jameson, like all large brands, is big because they are salient across so many Category Entry Points or occasions. It is a nice sipping whisk(e)y while watching the football, it is often the brand of choice in Irish coffee, it makes a great pantry filler whisk(e)y, and it can make a delightful gift at Christmas. A number of years ago, Jameson identified a key Category Entry Point to focus on. Their core target market was/is L.A.D.S (It’s an acronym, but think of your typical 18-35YO male pub frequenter). They identified an important CEP for this group, where after 3 or 4 pints, they were often “full”, and wanted something lighter and a drink that could provide a kickstart to the night as it moved from casual to higher tempo. For this, they created the “Jameson, Ginger & Lime”, a serve which was a key feature of their trade and experiential activity in several markets. This refreshing and accessible drink was also a key feature of their advertising, with the objective of being salient for this CEP and that specific moment in the night.

The use of the Jameson, Ginger & Lime was also broadened over time to help drive volume in the off-trade with messaging and special packs to help communicate how easy it is to make at home.


Bailey’s is another example of a brand that is interesting to look at through the lens of Category Entry Points. A significant portion of their early growth in certain markets came from their association as a drink to serve over ice at Christmas time. This was, and still is, an important CEP for the brand. Over time, however, this narrow focus was restricting growth potential, and the number of occasions the brand could play in. To counteract this, the brand reframed the brand from a “one-off festive blockbuster to millions of triggers to treat”, via the “Don’t mind if I Bailey’s” campaign.

This campaign communicated to consumers that Bailey’s was the perfect drink for brunch, at home on the sofa, or a sweet finish after a meal. This was expanded even further to show how Baileys could also be a key ingredient in deserts. The broadening of CEPs helped the brand return to growth.

Read more about this very informative case study via the IPA.

Image source: Mother London via Creative Brief

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