VNU Announces Nielsen In-Store

VNU has announced plans to launch an in-store measurement service built on the P.R.I.S.M. (Pioneering Research for an In-Store Metric) study conducted in early 2006 by a consortium of retailers and manufacturers led by the In-Store Marketing Institute. The service, which will be developed through a new unit of VNU known as Nielsen In-Store, is part of NielsenConnect, a recently established division of VNU that, according to VNU, "will integrate the company's vast store of consumer and media intelligence from dozens of business units to provide clients with the clear, actionable information and forwardlooking insights they need to run their businesses."

ISMI's Executive Director Peter Hoyt says that ISMI is now seeking more sponsors to help take the P.R.I.S.M. study beyond the pilot phase conducted earlier this year. Hoyt adds that $10-15 million needs to be raised from a dozen or so second- round sponsors to move beyond the pilot stage and implement a full P.R.I.S.M. study, hopefully this year.

"Nielsen In-Store will connect resources and capabilities from across VNU to ‘follow the consumer' in this critical arena," says David L. Calhoun, Chairman and CEO of VNU. "Working with the Institute, we will deliver an innovative service that will allow our clients to quantify the impact of in-store marketing and assess its value in comparison with other media and marketing options."

"The new information we provide for retailers and manufacturers will help them work more effectively to improve the shopping experience for consumers," says George Wishart, who has been named Global Managing Director of Nielsen In-Store. "We also will provide the advertising, media, and retail industries with a new currency standard that can increase the efficiency of the media buying and selling process."

Wishart, before this appointment, was President and CEO of VNU's Interactive Market Systems (IMS), a provider of media-planning software. According to VNU, the lead-market phase of the new service will be launched in the US early in 2007, and is designed to fine tune the new metric before it is made widely available to the industry later in the year.

The P.R.I.S.M. pilot, with involvement of a consortium that includes 3M, Coca-Cola, Kellogg's, Miller Brewing, Procter & Gamble, and The Walt Disney Company, and retailers such as Albertsons, Kroger, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart, used infrared technology to track shoppers in stores and attempted to define "opportunity to see" parameters. According to the In-Store Marketing Institute, the P.R.I.S.M. study calculations from a full study "would be similar in scope to the gross ratings points (or GRP) used to estimate the potential audience for TV advertising. The equation is: Traffic x Compliance = Opportunity to See."

The hypothesis was that reliable traffic estimates could be achieved by using data already collected through POS systems and other easily obtainable information such as store format, product category, units sold, and number of category baskets. This hypothesis was, according to the In-Store Marketing Institute, validated through a pilot study in early 2006 that counted traffic in 63 product categories in ten stores using infrared sensors positioned in aisles, perimeter locations, and store entrance and exit zones.

The pilot involved only ten stores in four different store formats (supermarket, drug, discount, and supercenter), but, according to In-Store Marketing Institute, the actual traffic counts validated those derived using the P.R.I.S.M. model so well that researchers are convinced of its reliability. The In-Store Marketing Institute concluded that a second, more indepth lead market study is still necessary to make the traffic estimates more precise, and, more important, to encompass a broader range of product categories and store formats.