Commercial Information

The growing demand for marketing data in recent years has given rise to a number of companies that make a business of collecting and selling marketing information. Such companies typically fall into one or more categories many restrict themselves to research on specific problems faced by their clients. Another group of companies are those that collect certain marketing data on a continuing basis. This information is sold on subscription to all buyers. Such firms have increased in importance in recent years. More and more are using ‘hi-tech’ instruments to obtain, and process their data. Some kinds of data provided, and selected companies in each area are described below.

Consumer Purchase Data: Such data are relevant to almost all marketing problems. They are especially helpful in defining and quantifying more segments, determining market share, identifying competitors and evaluating their activities, scheduling production and controlling inventories, targeting advertising, and determining the effects of advertising and determining the effects of advertising. A number of syndicated commercial services provide continuous consumer purchase data that are very helpful in determining trends with regard to the above types of problems.

National Purchase Diary, Inc (NPD) is the largest supplier of diary panel data in the United States. This organization maintains a panel of some 14,500 households selected to be representative of the entire US population. This size is sufficiently large to enable regional breakouts representing as little as 5 to 8 percent of the total continental US population. Further, the company maintains 20 test panels made up of some 30,000 households. Its NET service gathers information on meat usage from 2,000 households.

Panel members keep diaries in which they record all purchases of a large number of different product classes. Products purchased frequently, such as packaged food and personal care products, make up the list. Members submit dairies monthly and are compensated for so doing. NPD data are reported by selected demographics; regions (tailored to client needs); product ownership; and media habits Panel data permit analysis of sales and market share trends by brand, package size, product type and retail outlet. Special analyses can provide valuable insights into such problems as those having to do with a brand’s loss of market share, the use of coupons versus free samples, brand loyalty and repeat buying, and the demographic profiles of target audiences. The company is in the process of replacing the dairy method with hand held UPC scanner devices.

Continuous consumers purchase data are also provided by NPD on a number of specialized products. Thus, panel data are available on consumer buying habits with respect to away-from-home eating through the Crest Report. Also, provided are similar consumption data on gasoline and automotive products, toys games apparel, electronic products and sporting goods. The company also operates a fixed mail panel of more than 200,000 households that can be contacted (interviewed) by mail or phone.

Continuous consumer panels cannot present in general the total universe buying any product. Foreign speaking persons and illiterate persons do not participate, and low-income families are typically underrepresented. and some people simply d not want to be bothered with keeping a continuous record of their purchases, the uses of UPC scanners tied to a central computer by panel members to record their purchases should not only make panel membership easier but improve reporting reliability and the speed with which headquarters can receive, tabulate, and report panel results and composition. Demographic profiles and product ownership or each family are continuously updated. Thus, NPD can set up panels composed of others, of infants, families owning recreational vehicles, families owning certain pets, and apartment dwellers. Data are collected via mail and telephone. The company conducts studies concerned with product usage, awareness and attitude, and product testing. It has a number of syndicated services that provide information of toys, carpeting apparel and beverages.