CHICAGO -- Information Resources Inc. here this month announced it will resume offering Wal-Mart sales data, despite the retailer's decision to stop providing sales information. The InfoScan Advantage service will be available to track Wal-Mart sales information beginning this month, with full customer rollout scheduled for completion over the next few months.
Wal-Mart announced earlier this year that it would no longer share its U.S. point-of-sale (POS) scanner-tracking data with the market research industry, including IRI. In response, IRI developed InfoScan Advantage. Instead of collecting POS data directly, InfoScan Advantage will enable IRI to obtain Wal-Mart sales data from a large sample of households from its proprietary InfoScan multi-outlet consumer panel, the company said. IRI announced this month that it recently completed a yearlong expansion of its consumer household panel, increasing it by almost 20% to 65,000 households. The new panel is designed to include a representative sample of Wal-Mart shoppers, with special emphasis on rural households that traditionally account for a disproportionate share of Wal-Mart business.
Ed Kuehnle, group president of IRI North America said that, "the entire industry will lose some detail on Wal-Mart data, but InfoScan Advantage will provide IRI customers with the most comprehensive and in-depth information possible from the available data sources."
"Additionally, InfoScan Advantage will enable IRI to roll out related products and services in the coming months that will give customers new insights into their business," Kuehnle added.
IRI said it will combine Wal-Mart data collected from its InfoScan Advantage panel with its flagship retail scanner-tracking service, making it the only company to provide a view of food, drug, mass merchandise and Wal-Mart outlets in one integrated database.
For the first time, IRI will be able to report data to manufacturers on their competitors' brands and private-label products sold within Wal-Mart.
"By combining IRI's retail scanner-tracking data with information from its electronic consumer household panel, InfoScan Advantage will be the industry standard, offering customers an integrated, efficient way to track purchases across major retail outlets, as well as more information on competitor and private-label sales within Wal-Mart," Kuehnle said.
IRI said it designed the InfoScan Advantage service so that customers can view Wal-Mart data on a stand-alone basis, as well as easily integrate panel data with retail scanner data to get a comprehensive picture across food, drug and mass merchandise channels. In addition, IRI has already established two years of back data on Wal-Mart, including the ability to report supercenter and traditional stores separately.
IRI said that it plans to roll out new products that leverage InfoScan Advantage to provide customers with a more comprehensive view of their business in several ways.
First, the company plans to use both store and panel data to expand the service to additional channels such as club stores, dollar stores and pet chains, where scanner data is not available. Second, IRI will combine InfoScan Advantage with its industry-leading analytics services to provide additional insights into the demographics, behavior and attitudes of consumers.
ACNielsen, Shaumburg, Ill., plans to utilize its Homescan consumer panel to provide clients with information about product sales through Wal-Mart, as well as an understanding of the Wal-Mart shopper. Nearly 80% of the panelists shop in Wal-Mart, according to spokesman Matthew Bell.
"Some important points about our panel include the fact that we have three years' worth of historical information about purchases made in Wal-Mart, we capture the price panelists paid for products in Wal-Mart, and we capture whether or not the consumer purchased the product(s) on some type of deal. We will provide our clients with information about purchasing in the food, drug, all other, and Wal-Mart channels," Bell told SN.
Bell noted that ACNielsen has 67,000 households in its Homescan panel in North America. "While we already have excellent panelist representation in "C" and "D" counties (smaller counties where Wal-Mart tends to be strong), we plan to add an additional 6,500 households in those areas to make our service even more robust," Bell said.
Nick Sorvillo, senior vice president, ACNielsen Homescan, said, "Homescan is the gold standard household panel for the consumer packaged goods industry. Homescan's historical information, details about the prices consumers paid in Wal-Mart, and information about products purchased on deal, will provide tremendous insights for our clients who need to understand consumer purchasing at Wal-Mart."