NEW YORK: PRISM, the electronic system that tracks shoppers' movements in store, has revealed some of its first secrets. The Nielsen Company and its retail, manufacturing and media partners hope Pioneering Research for an In-Store Metric (i.e. PRISM) will establish the measurement of the in-store environment as a marketing medium.

The tool, which allows in-store traffic to be measured by product category, has been trialled in 160 US stores for nearly six months and is expected to be piloted internationally next year.

So far PRISM has shown:

  • counter to conventional wisdom, category transactions alone are not a reliable indicator of category traffic. For example, two-thirds of consumers who visit the salty snacks section in a food store make a purchase. Traffic is heavier past dairy products but the number of shoppers who buy is much lower.

  • although just 13% of shopping trips are made with children in tow, consumers put more in their carts overall when kids are with them. Nielsen has found that seasonal items are two and a half times more likely to be purchased when kids are present, yet "the presence of kids on the shopping trip has little impact on candy sales".

  • the average number of individual pieces of marketing stimuli in a grocery store is about 3,500 and larger store formats have more than 5,000 stimuli. A typical drug store has roughly 2,300 individual pieces of marketing stimuli.

    One of PRISM's main champions is Wal-Mart Stores, where marketing svp Steve Bratspies comments: "It can dramatically change the way we as retailers create a more compelling in-store environment by helping us to truly anticipate the needs of our customers."

    Adds Renetta McCann, ceo of Starcom MediaVest Group: "By mapping store traffic and enhancing it with consumer feedback and compliance measures, we will have a much clearer, more measurable and predictable grasp of what the consumer is going to do inside a store."

    While Nielsen chairman/ceo David Calhoun says: "Industry-accepted metrics typically emerge because of need... There's too much money at stake for the in-store experience to be left to intuition."

    Data sourced from (UK): additional content by WARC staff