Early findings are coming out of research projects involving Nielsen's vast collection of consumer data.
Data tracker Nielsen holds a trove of consumer data that you'd probably love to get your hands on. One dataset, for example, contains information on purchases made by 40,000 to 60,000 households in the United States.
The good news: Nielsen has recently been sharing its raw data with business schools and other academic institutions that can dive in and digest the information for readers.
One such partnership resulted in a meaty article in the University of Chicago Booth School of Business’ Fall Magazine, which shed some light on the research projects involving this newly accessible consumer information. Here are some highlights from this article (worth a full read).
Shoppers favor quality over a lower price.
Researchers from Columbia and Princeton universities are in the early stages of a study to determine the role that percieved quality plays in purchasing decisions. Using the Nielsen data, they came up with a formula to determine a consumer’s idea of quality.
The premise is that, if prices for two like products, such as cola, are equal, then whichever brand has the highest market share is of better quality -- at least in the consumer’s opinion.
“For example, Coke and RC Cola are similar products, but Coke is more successful because people prefer it. Why they prefer it, whether they’re influenced by advertising or other factors, is a secondary matter for the researchers. All they consider, besides price, is the perceived quality,” said the article.
The article reports that early results support the theory that successful companies sell products that their customers think are high quality.
Brand preferences stick with shoppers … for a long time.
Researchers uncovered a strange fact when they looked at the market shares for two different instant coffee brands across the United States. They found that Folgers held the greatest market share on the West Coast, but along the Atlantic Seaboard, instant coffee purchasers favored Maxwell House.
Similarly, regional differences in preference appeared when the analysts examined beer sales. In most U.S. cities, Budweiser held the highest market share. Yet, the data indicated that beer drinkers in Chicago preferred Miller.
To test their hypothesis as to why these differences occurred, researchers from Booth and Tilburg University in the Netherlands linked the Nielsen data to information that specified exactly when certain products were released in different areas. They found that the brands that had been available longer had a striking advantage.
“Simply looking at which brand launched first explains more than 80 percent of the geographic variance in several categories,” the article said. The findings suggest that a preference for one brand can be ingrained in a region’s shoppers for decades.
You can read about the other research projects going on internationally here.
LAURA MONTINI is a reporter at Inc. She previously covered health care technology for Health 2.0 News and has served as an associate editor at The Health Care Blog. She lives in San Francisco, CA. @lmmontini