MasterCard to offer tracking tools

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Retailers tend to rely on survey research or internal reports to track consumers' buying habits and brand loyalty. Until now, there hasn't been a corresponding Nielsen report, Arbitron study or non-package goods IRI research data for retailers.

Today, MasterCard International and Symmetrical Resources announce the forthcoming tool to help retailers, media companies and ad agencies analyze consumer behavior.

Symmetrical is owned by Simmons Market Research Bureau, which is part of WPP Group's Kantar Media Research.


"The problem with survey research is when people are asked how many times they shopped at a store and how much they spent, they often have trouble remembering," said Bill Engel, president-CEO of Transactional Data Solutions, the joint venture formed by MasterCard and Symmetrical.

"This is an unobtrusive measurement that allows us with great accuracy to see how much is being spent, where and how often."

The first tool, Merchant Advisor, is geared for retailers. The second product, to be announced in a few weeks, is Media Advisor; it targets ad agencies, broadcasters and print buyers and sellers.

Both use anonymous MasterCard data from a panel of 670,000 cardholders, combine it with Simmons market and media studies, and come up with an in-depth picture of U.S. consumers. The information can also be broken down regionally and even further into state profiles.

For example, if an ad agency with a retail account wants to target 18-to-34-year-old women in the Southeast who buy makeup, it could use the Advisor research to determine other buying habits and brand preferences of that age group.


The agency and retailer could then craft targeted creative and plot their media campaign. After the campaign runs, the two could study subsequent quarters' research to find out if they actually sold more makeup to the target audience.

The first Transactional Data Solutions report will be out in April and will include 15 months of data, through the fourth quarter of 1998. Subsequent reports are scheduled to break about six weeks after the end of each quarter.

Copyright January 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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