NACS Releases New Category Definitions & Numbering Guide

The definitions help retailers establish a framework for benchmark discussions.

January 28, 2021

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—NACS has released the new NACS Category Definitions & Numbering Guide–Version 8.0 that reflects current market conditions. The new category definitions take effect in 2022 and mark the first major update since 2010.

Category definitions provide a common language for retailers, suppliers and manufacturers to establish a framework for discussions about benchmarking and market performance at the store level. Version 8.0, developed by the NACS Research & Technology Committee, significantly updates the last broad iteration, Version 7.0, and the more minor updates in Version 7.2 in 2014. NACS released its first guide, the Category Definitions & Numbering Guide 1.0, in 1998. Since then, industry sales have grown from $186 billion to $648 billion, and pretax profits have experienced a similar growth curve.

NACS Research added 11 new subcategories to the Version 8.0 guide to better align with changes in the convenience and fuel retailing industry. For example, E15 and Renewable Diesel are new categories listed under Fuel, “Alcoholic Seltzer” is a new subcategory in Beer, “Ready-to-Drink Coffee” is a new subcategory in Packaged Beverages and “Ready-to-Drink Cocktails” is a new subcategory in Liquor.

Common category definitions are the building blocks that help convenience retailers develop marketing strategies and category management plans. They allow retailers to lower inventory levels, reduce out-of-stocks and create a clearly differentiated offering and more quickly pivot offers when customer behaviors and preferences quickly change, which became commonplace during the pandemic.

These common category definitions are a key part of the CSX database, the dynamic, self-reported subscription database that serves the convenience and petroleum marketing industry and its stakeholders. CSX also powers the NACS State of the Industry suite of products and allows NACS to improve its speed and accuracy in reporting industry performance metrics to NACS members and to help support advocacy efforts. Providing data on key industry categories was instrumental in 2020 as NACS advocated for convenience stores to be designated as essential businesses.

“NACS released Version 8.0 nearly a full year in advance of the 2022 implementation to allow retailers, specifically category managers and IT support teams, ample time to review and update their classifications to reflect these new changes. In addition, critical industry software management and data analysis firms like PDI, NielsenIQ, IRI and others will require lead time to remap their pricebook systems,” said NACS Vice President of Research Lori Stillman.

The Category Definitions & Numbering Guide–Version 8.0 includes a mapping guideline to assist in product reclassification, when appropriate. In this latest iteration of the category definitions, descriptions are provided for all subcategories, and 11 new subcategories are identified.

For questions on category classification, contact Jayme Gough, NACS research manager, at [email protected].   

For questions on mapping and CSX integration, contact Chris Rapanick, NACS director of business development at [email protected].