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The package-goods industry for the first time will be able to link census, or store-by-store, scanner data and demographic information using new software from Information Resources Inc.

DataServer Targeter, the market research company's first program using weekly scanner data from every store in a retail chain, is supported by demographic data supplied by Spectra Marketing Services, Chicago. IRI has tested the new software with undisclosed marketers and now is offering the product to its clients.

Spectra's data describe the customer population of each market: age, ethnicity, gender, household size and income. Spectra also details store characteristics, including size of each department; presence of special departments like bakeries, floral centers or fast-food kiosks; and methods of acceptable payment.

Demographic profiles of retail markets have been available for years, said Spectra President-CEO John Larkin. DataServer Targeter's breakthrough is in matching customer and store characteristics to sales at each of 13,000 retail outlets nationwide.

Census sales data give marketers the potential to increase consumer purchases at each store through customized promotion, distribution or merchandising, said Gary LeVee, regional sales manager at IRI.

And DataServer Targeter's mapping graphics allows retailers to visualize specific geographic points within an area.

Retailers can use the program to find the best mix of products for each store's clientele. DataServer Targeter estimates sales gains each business might experience by adding and subtracting products.

Census data collector Efficient Market Services-one of Nielsen North America's partners and a competitor of IRI-said the daily census data it collects is more valuable to marketers than IRI's combination of weekly census data with demographic information.

"EMS views demographic consumption information as only one of the primary causes for store-by-store sales differences," said Mike Spindler, exec VP-sales and client services. "Just as important to a brand's success in a specific store are such factors as shelf placement, share of shelf, assortment, pricing, pricing relative to competition, display support, feature ad support and out-of-stock situations."

Efficient Market Services said its Quick Response Mailbox service provides answers to the above questions. Competitors argue the number of stores from which its collects data-currently 2,500-is still too small to be of use to national marketers.

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