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Information Resources, Inc. (IRI) and The Nielsen Company (Nielsen) have formed a U.S. production joint venture to recruit, maintain and process data from a common set of households to support the IRI Consumer Network and Nielsen Homescan panels, which will continue to be operated by their respective companies. The pool of households will be owned by the joint venture, but the techniques used for projecting, analyzing and delivering insights will remain proprietary to each company.

The joint panel is designed to provide a more efficient organization focused on gathering high quality behavioral and attitudinal information from consumer households, and foster a competitive environment where each company focuses on meeting clients’ specific insight and analytical needs.

According to the announcement, “The joint venture, owned 50-50, will be established using the existing Nielsen household sample and data acquisition infrastructure and will begin operation during the first quarter of 2010. The joint venture will draw from a subset of existing IRI households to replace panelists as they naturally drop from the original sample. A complete history of data (five years of back data) will be available to both Nielsen and IRI, and each company will use its own unique intellectual property (data reference, projections, technology, etc.) to produce delivery of its respective consumer panel. Under the joint venture agreement, Nielsen receives 100 percent of the targeted 100,000-plus households and IRI has access to 86 percent, with the right to acquire up to 100 percent after two years. The joint venture will be governed by a Board, equally represented by IRI and Nielsen officers and an independent chief executive officer to be recruited from outside both companies.”

The companies say that by consolidating panelist management and data collection, IRI and Nielsen will intensify focus on providing the unique and actionable consumer and shopper insights that drive success in the highly competitive consumer packaged goods (CPG) marketplace. The similarity of the data collected between the two companies and the increasing complexity of maintaining a longitudinal sample size, all create an opportunity to consolidate household panelist acquisition and retention operations.
KC's View:
Sensible move, and it will be interesting to see how both companies make moves to differentiate their offerings and perspectives despite swimming in the same pool of data.