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IRI, Nielsen announce joint venture to recruit, maintain panelists for consumer shopping panels

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO Information Resources Inc. and The Nielsen Co. on Tuesday announced that they have formed a U.S. production joint venture to recruit, maintain and process data from a common set of households to support the Nielsen Homescan and IRI Consumer Network panels. While the pool of households will be owned by the joint venture, the techniques used for projecting, analyzing and delivering insights across the respective panels will remain proprietary to each company.

The jointly-owned venture will begin operation during the first quarter 2010 using the existing Nielsen household sample and data acquisition infrastructure. The joint venture will draw from a subset of existing IRI households to replace panelists as they naturally drop from the original sample. A complete history of data (five years of back data) will be available to both Nielsen and IRI, and each company will use its own unique intellectual property (data reference, projections, technology, etc.) to produce delivery of its respective consumer panel.

Under the joint venture agreement, Nielsen receives 100% of the targeted 100,000-plus households and IRI has access to 86%, with the right to acquire up to 100% after two years. The joint venture will be governed by a board equally represented by IRI and Nielsen officers and an independent CEO to be recruited from outside both companies.

“Now more than ever, Nielsen will be able to quickly and aggressively build unique and actionable consumer and shopper insights for our clients,” stated Nielsen Consumer North America president and CEO John Lewis.  “The joint venture panel will serve as a critical insights foundation, and Nielsen will integrate its assets and our clients’ assets like never before as we seek even bigger client business breakthroughs. Clients tell us time and again that we must do more to capture the opportunities of today’s highly volatile and fragmented consumer landscape, and the joint venture will be an enabling step.”

“We have an aggressive innovation agenda focused on delivering superior consumer and shopper insights to our clients,” added IRI President and CEO John Freeland. “This joint venture is yet another step in furthering that focus and enables IRI to concentrate on the consumer panel innovations that really matter — increased speed to insight via new technologies, deeper and broader insights covering a full 360° view of the consumer, and new automated analytics to accurately predict changing shopper attitudes and behaviors.”

In addition, IRI’s RxPulse Patient Panel will be replaced by a new Rx panel recruited by the joint venture and will be designed to maintain the continuity of IRI’s current RxPulse panel. Nielsen will have access to the Rx household data and will continue to be the sole provider of its Hispanic specialty panel.

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Winn-Dixie reports Q4, fiscal-year results

BY Michael Johnsen

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Winn-Dixie closed out the year on a strong note Monday, reporting $7.4 billion in net sales, up 1.2%, for the fiscal year ended June 24, with identical-store sales from continuing operations up 1.2% compared with the prior fiscal year.

During a conference call Tuesday morning, Winn-Dixie chairman, president and CEO Peter Lynch told analysts that the chain’s remodel program, scheduled to be completed across the chain’s entire store base by fiscal year 2013, will be a key driver in the grocer’s success going forward, as will pharmacy.

“Script counts are up,” noted Lynch. “As far as pharmacy plays into our promotional activity, as I have said in the past, pharmacy is a key component to our strategy going forward,” he said. Primarily because pharmacy customers, no matter which channel from which they pick up their prescriptions, are sticky customers. “So we are always trying to make sure that we keep those customers and reach out to them for more business,” Lynch said.

And right now, that means better customer service than the pharmacy down the street. “We’ve done a lot of work in making sure that our pharmacists are really out there taking care of the customer,” he said. “The customer really needs that approach regarding pharmacy and I think we’re doing a much, much better job at it here at Winn-Dixie today.”

 

Lynch updated analysts around Winn-Dixie’s store remodeling program, which Winn-Dixie is tackling on a market-by-market basis. The grocer’s hometown market of Jacksonville, Fla., home to 51 stores across north Florida and south Georgia, was completed in mid-July. “We are currently on track to remodel half of our stores by the end of fiscal year 2010 and to complete substantially all of our stores by 2013,” Lynch said.

At the end of fiscal 2009, the company had completed 170 store remodels, 73 of which were still within their first year of operation. Of the 73 first-year store remodels, 47 are considered by the company to be offensive remodels. For fiscal 2009, those 47 stores had a 10.3% weighted average sales increase compared to the same period in the prior fiscal year, excluding the grand re-opening phase. The sales increase resulted from increases in transaction count and basket size of 5.6% and 4.5%, respectively.

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Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy, CareSource announce partnership to treat CKD

BY Alaric DeArment

SWARTZ CREEK, Mich. A specialty pharmacy in the Midwest will partner with another company to help treat people with chronic kidney disease.

Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy announced this week that its Diplomat Health Services Division would partner with Ohio-based CareSource in an effort to slow the progression of kidney disease, improve clinical outcomes and reduce costs associated with it.

“Early recognition and intervention are essential to slowing disease progression and improving outcomes,” CareSource chief medical officer Craig Thiele said in a statement. “Collaboration and creating a communication continuum, as well as enhancing patient and physician education, goal setting and tracking outcomes ensure success for all stakeholders.”

According to the National Kidney Foundation, chronic kidney disease affects 26 million Americans, while millions more are at increased risk. It’s one of the many complications of hypertension, but it can also cause hypertension, and it often affects people with diabetes.

Diplomat said that in pilot studies, its CKD Navigator disease management program showed significant medication and medical cost savings while improving results among patients by incorporating medication therapy management, medication adherence tools and lifestyle management techniques.

“We have demonstrated the savings,” Diplomat VP clinical services Ron Alexander said in a statement. “Now, with the CareSource project, we plan to not only show good financial metrics, but also incorporate lifestyle information to gauge the program’s health effects.”

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