Nielsen initiates tracking system

Next month, Nielsen Marketing Research starts its HomeScan tracking scheme that aims to tell its subscribers not only what products consumers are buying but who is buying them and where.Doug Romain, product development manager at Nielsen, says, by using bar code...

Next month, Nielsen Marketing Research starts its HomeScan tracking scheme that aims to tell its subscribers not only what products consumers are buying but who is buying them and where.

Doug Romain, product development manager at Nielsen, says, by using bar code scanning, stores have already gathered lots of information on what people are buying, but adds there is a need to know more.

Romain says data gathered by HomeScan will be subjected to ‘diagnostic analysis,’ or why things happen.

Scanning wands

He says by the end of May, Nielsen should have equipped all of HomeScan’s 7,300 households with Telxon UPC hand-held scanning wands.

The first results of HomeScan will be available this fall.

Peter Daboll, executive vice-president and general manager of Information Resources’ Toronto-based Canadian syndicated information division, says home-based tracking panels are not new.

He says in the u.s., his company issues cards to panel members who present them at checkout.

The cashier then creates a separate file to capture the purchase information from bar codes, later transmitting it to an Information Resources computer.

Dispute

Information Resources and Nielsen are involved in a dispute after the former alleged Nielsen contravened the Competition Act by obtaining exclusive rights to retailers’ upc scanner-based sales information. Nielsen denies the allegation.

Both companies are due to meet before the Competition Tribunal some time later this year.

Romain says by using Statistics Canada data and other information the composition of participants will be an accurate representation of households across the country.

He says HomeScan is the first service of its kind in Canada, although there is at least one 40,000-household panel in the u.s.

Scan purchases

To remain on the panel, members have to scan their grocery and drug purchases and transmit them to a Nielsen computer at least once a week.

Romain says the transmission is short and simple, using a coupler attached to the mouthpiece of a phone.

Panelists who are diligent earn points they can use to select items from a Nielsen-supplied gift catalogue.

In February, Nielsen mailed out 860,000 letters to a cross-section of Canadian homes to identify the necessary 7,300 households.

Romain says Nielsen can distribute the results of the data on paper and is working to set up electronic distribution as well.

He says the cost of HomeScan varies, adding, companies can buy as little or as much information as they want from the service at any time.

He says Nielsen is paying the entire cost of HomeScan. DC