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CHICAGO-Market research titans Information Resources Inc. and Nielsen Marketing Research staked out territory on opposite ends of the convention floor at last week's Food Marketing Institute show, each unveiling long-awaited software offering marketers more flexibility in analyzing grocery sales data.

In the aisles at FMI, rumors were also circulating that IRI is courting a potential outside investor whose funding would be used to fuel international expansion. Tribune Co. and Mitsui & Co., the Tokyo-based company with which IRI is developing a joint venture, were two possible investors mentioned by financial analysts. Neither IRI nor the Tribune Co. would comment.

Prominent at the IRI booth was DataServer Analyzer for Windows. This updated version of IRI's DOS-based DataServer allows users the tools to instantly customize a database within specific boundaries.

For instance, a marketer can change the boundaries of a typical region to include or exclude certain stores. Analyzer also allows the user to examine sales over a specific week of a promotion, rather than limiting marketers to accounting week analysis.

More advanced graphing and chart options are included among Analyzer's features, as is the ability to pinpoint within a category a specific brand or product ex-periencing unusually high or low sales.

Nielsen meanwhile displayed its long-anticipated Solution System, a Windows analysis tool currently under test by five clients.

Jiri Nechleba, senior VP-Nielsen software and systems, said one of Solution System's most valuable features is the ability to look at sales within non-traditional categories. For example, the user can examine sales for all pumpkin-related items in a store, comparing movement of pumpkin pie filling to that of pumpkin pie spices.

Marketers can also examine the effect of store features on sales; the user might find that sales of the same pumpkin pie filling differ at stores boasting a bakery counter. Solution System will group together sales data from all stores with bakeries.

Both Nielsen and partner Efficient Market Services demonstrated the incorporation of the service's daily store-by-store data into Nielsen's analysis tools. An Efficient Market Services executive said a few Nielsen clients have begun buying its data.

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