Walmart Joins the Data-ing Game


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Just how many bags of Tootsie Pops does Walmart sell every year? Soon, the world may know.

For years, Walmart never shared its store sales data with the outside world. If it sold $800 million in Wheat Thins, that was its own proprietary info and no one else was allowed to see it.

The problem with this policy, for market research firms, is that it made it incredibly difficult to estimate or project the total sales of products or brands in the market. Many firms estimated that Walmart generated one-third to one-half a product’s entire market share.

But such guesswork is changing now, after more than a decade, with a deal between Walmart and Nielsen, the global provider of data involving what consumers watch and what they buy. In the agreement, Walmart and Sam’s Club will share sales information with Nielsen, which in turn will analyze and incorporate the data into the marketplace.

Why is this important to you? Because the more accurate the shopping information gathered by retailers and manufacturers, the better they can determine sales volumes, pricing, merchandising and promotions. Consumer data helps retailers learn everything from peak shopping times to the most effective store formats to how many single-serve packets of meat to carry.

Most food and consumer packaged goods retailers already provide Nielsen with sales information. Walmart, in doing the same, will gain a clearer view of shopper purchasing patterns and unmet needs.

As Cindy Davis, executive vice president of Walmart global customer insights, said in a press release: “We plan to share our point-of-sale information to help us identify category growth opportunities sooner and collaborate with our manufacturer partners to develop more impactful customer-driven programs going forward.”

Nielsen, meantime, is “confident that both retailers and consumer goods manufacturers will benefit significantly from greater accuracy of information on what consumers buy,” John Lewis, CEO of North America Consumer, Nielsen, said.

As for the total sales of Tootsie Pops, I look forward to knowing.

Lisa Biank Fasig
Lisa leads the creation of editorials and feature stories for COLLOQUY and oversees the work of contributing editors and writers. With 18 years of reporting experience, most in business and specifically consumer behavior, she is highly skilled at researching data and teasing out the trends. A background in graphic design enables her to see ideas in three dimensions and tell the story visually.


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