In 1981, the company added the measurement of advertised goods and services usage to its survey and was renamed Mediamark Research Inc. MRI subsequently became the U.S. research subsidiary of Mills & Allen International, a London-based financial and media services company.
In August 1985, MRI acquired Nabscan National Scanning Services, an early entrant in the field of product movement tracking through the use of the Universal Product Code. The acquisition of Nabscan boosted MRI revenue more than 23% to $9.5 million and enabled it to speed tracking study results commissioned by advertiser and supermarket clients from four to six weeks to seven to 10 days.
Major clients for MRI data include magazines, TV and other media; some 450 ad agencies (including 89 of the top 100, according to MRI); and manufacturers and marketers, which use MRI data to help guide product launches, line extensions and brand repositionings.
Since 1979, the company has also continuously studied the U.S. adult consumer population (all persons 18 and older), surveying demographics, product usage and media exposure in the contiguous 48 states. The respondents polled by MRI are selected on a strict area probability basis. "A computer list of approximately 90 million households is merged with other sources necessary to construct a properly stratified sample," according to company literature. MRI divides its sample into three sections: metropolitan areas, non-metropolitan counties and 10 major U.S. markets- Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington.
Each of the sample sections contains a number of designated household "clusters," selected according to various methods. In rural areas, clusters are defined by the random selection of a single household address and consist of that dwelling and several that follow in geographical sequence. In metro and suburban areas, each specific address is listed.
The completed MRI sample consists of more than 25,000 respondents, the company says, and each year the pool is completely redrawn, with 13,000 new respondents entering the survey every six months. About 2,400 new clusters are selected yearly from a constantly updated master list.
MRI used many different techniques to gather its data. Typically, however, households are notified by mail in advance that they will be contacted by an MRI interviewer. As many as six attempts are made to contact hard-to-reach subjects. Specialists contact non-English-speaking consumers. Each interview runs about an hour, and respondents are given a questionnaire to be returned by mail. Other special tools and reports include business-to-business, Upper Deck (affluent market), teen market and the Cable Report.
Mr. Joyce died in 1997. In June 2000, Kathleen D. Love replaced David C. Bender as president and chief operating officer after Mr. Bender left MRI to join sibling company Audits & Surveys Worldwide.