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Chicago Booth, Nielsen Collaborate on Groundbreaking Consumer Research Initiative

April 12, 2012

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Nielsen, a global leader in measurement and information, today announced plans to offer comprehensive historical perspective on consumer purchases to all U.S.-based academic researchers for the first time.

“This will start a revolution in terms of the research we do as marketers and the insight we gain into consumer behavior,” said Sanjay Dhar, the James H. Lorie professor of marketing at Chicago Booth and director of the school’s Kilts Center for Marketing which will oversee release of the information. “Thanks to exposure to the power of analytics early in their education and careers, our Nielsen/Chicago Booth collaboration will yield a new generation of marketers passionate about insight and analytics,” Dhar said.

“Many of today’s best practices in marketing began as academic research,” said Frank Piotrowski, senior vice president, measurement science at Nielsen. “We believe this alliance will yield research that improves marketers’ abilities to drive growth and profitability in the consumer packaged goods industry.”

As part of the arrangement, all tenure-track faculty members and Ph.D. students from accredited U.S. colleges and universities can apply for access to the historical Consumer Panel information Nielsen is making available. The extensive marketing information will allow academics to investigate topics that previously could not be studied. “Up to now, a very limited number of product categories, households, retail channels, and markets were released to a small set of specific academics,” Dhar said.

“I believe the impact of releasing Nielsen’s information will be as significant as the creation of the Center for Research in Security Prices, a data gathering project established at Booth in 1960 that changed the face of finance,” said Sunil Kumar, Booth dean. Financial economists worldwide have used CRSP historical stock market data to create landmark studies, said Kumar, who also is the George Pratt Shultz Professor of Operations Management.

Newly available longitudinal data spanning multiple years will also open up new avenues for research Examples of projects now possible include research on the effect of branding decisions that typically show results years later, such as the impact of advertising investments on positioning a brand. The information will also allow researchers to investigate differences in purchasing behavior over various retail channels and among various consumer segments.

The Nielsen information is based on product purchases made by a panel of consumer households across all retail outlets in all U.S. markets. The dataset includes purchases from all Nielsen-tracked categories, including food, nonfood grocery items, health and beauty aids, and selected general merchandise. The panel information represents 40,000 to 60,000 U.S. households who continually provide information about the makeup of their households, the products they buy, as well as when and where they make purchases. Researchers at Booth and the Computation Institute at University of Chicago prepared the initial information release covering 2004-2009 and are planning for annual updates.

Booth and Nielsen are also working to release Retail Scanner purchase information in the near future The scanner information tracks weekly sales volume and pricing information from 25,000 individual stores from a variety of retail channels including grocery stores, drug stores, mass merchandisers and others. This information will help identify in-store shopping trends and opportunities for manufacturers and retailers to collaborate better. For more information regarding this groundbreaking arrangement, visit

About Nielsen Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence, mobile measurement, trade shows and related properties. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit

About Chicago Booth Chicago Booth is one of the leading business schools in the world The school’s faculty incudes many renowned scholars and its graduates include many business leaders across the U.S. and worldwide.The Chicago Approach to Management Education is distinguished by how it leverages fundamental knowledge, its rigor, and its practical application to business challenges. For more information, visit