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Wal-Mart arms itself with more information


PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. The NPD Group is the newest provider of consumer information to Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. The Port Washington, N.Y.-based research company announced this morning that it had reached a deal to provide access to the purchasing behavior information of NPD’s 3.5 million-member consumer panel.

The move is the latest example of Wal-Mart’s increasing reliance on consumer insights to support efforts to tailor merchandise assortments to specific consumer segments. The strategic shift began roughly two years ago when the first of an ongoing series of personnel moves in the marketing and merchandising departments ushered in a new era of fact-based decision-making.


“NPD information will give Wal-Mart an extensive cross-category view of what’s happening across all segments of the marketplace and all consumer demographics,” said Robert Atencio, vp of insights and customer strategy at Wal-Mart.  “This is the kind of intelligence we need to continue to successfully grow our business by understanding what today’s consumer is looking for and tailoring our business to deliver it.”


NPD’s data is rich in that it tracks behavior across categories such as automotive aftermarket, consumer technology, entertainment, apparel, footwear, foodservice, home, small appliances and home improvement. Information available to Wal-Mart will include market measures such as market share, price points, consumer demographics and channel trends, in addition to the ability to customize research reports to address specific needs.


“We are excited to be able to provide Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and their vendors with what we feel is unparalleled information for identifying market trends and opportunities and working collaboratively to facilitate better business decisions,” said Bill Lucas, president of NPD’s retail business group.


The deal with NPD appears to supplement an agreement Wal-Mart reached with ACNielsen last August that designated that company as the sole provider of consumer panel services. The deal with ACNielsen was intended to complement consumer segmentation and targeting applications Wal-Mart was already using that were provided by the Spectra division of the Nielsen Company.


At the time, Wal-Mart senior vp of marketing, Stephen Participants on the panel report what they purchased, where they purchase it and the price paid. The deal calls for NPD to produce reports customized for Wal-Mart, enabling the retailer and select vendors to view information for Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club consumer segments, category hierarchies and custom trading areas.


Quinn, said, “the partnership we are announcing with ACNielsen today enables Wal-Mart to gain valuable insights into shopping behavior, category dynamics and overall business activity.  It will enable us to understand our customers better than ever before.  And the better we understand our customers, the better equipped we will be to offer them the merchandise they want, when and where they want it.”

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