TV ratings giant Nielsen is branching out beyond television and into grocery and retail stores. Nielson has installed high-tech cameras and sensors in hundreds of U.S. stores to see (anonymously) if product displays actually persuade people to buy differently.
Grocery and retail stores typically charge product companies fees for this kind of placement, so the Nielsen data could determine if these placements are worthwhile.
Companies such as Proctor & Gamble, which spend $10 billion per year on product discounts and prominent display space, have not had very specific information on what they have been getting for their in-store investments. The consumer data Nielsen can provide to Proctor & Gamble and other companies will help them measure results.
One concern for this type of consumer data is privacy issues. Customers might be annoyed at the idea of being watched too closely. Nielsen says that they are aware of this risk. They purposely avoid matching a shopper's name with purchases.
"It's OK if they use information in an aggregated fashion," said Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.