ACNielsen India has unveiled its plans to create the country’s first ever market research field force equipped with handheld terminals for data collection across the nation. This announcement marks the culmination of a two-year long plan to bring world-class collection methodology to India and it represents a major investment of Rs 100 million.
ACNielsen’s handheld terminal is a personal digital assistant embedded with proprietary software applications designed to capture retail sales data used by the country’s marketing community. With this investment, ACNielsen becomes the first market research organisation to deploy handheld terminals across the nation.
“The level of investment and technological advancement are unprecedented in the market research industry in India. It is the single largest technological investment since the inception of market research in India with the launch of Operations Research Group in 1961,” said Partha Rakshit, Managing Director, ACNielsen South Asia.
“It reaffirms ACNielsen’s staunch commitment to grow the industry as a market leader and deliver the best quality data to India’s marketing community. This is a significant step towards integrating technology into the marketing decision-making process,” Rakshit added.
Handheld terminals offer a paperless solution for capturing market information to be used by marketing decision makers and analysts. Until now, all consumer product marketing-related data has been captured by more traditional means.
“The paper-and-pencil methodology, while accepted as a norm, needs to be improved in tandem with the rapid development on the technology front. Handheld terminals, with built-in error-checking mechanisms, offer marketers leading edge collection of better quality, less error-prone data,” insisted Sujit Das Munshi, Executive Director for Retail Measurement Services, ACNielsen South Asia.
“This is especially important when the information pertains to over 150 varied product categories and over 17,500 brands from 50,000+ shop shelves across the country’s vast retailing landscape,” Das Munshi further said.
Data from 750 individual handheld terminals will be transmitted from over 200 locations across the nation to ACNielsen’s processing hub at Vadodara and supported by a robust technology infrastructure using Compaq Unix and high-end servers for data storage and processing.
“This ability to collect, transmit and process data faster will enable us to reduce turnaround time for delivering market information to marketers from the current 16 days to a remarkable nine days. The knock-on effect is faster and more effective marketing actions than ever before. As you can imagine, the benefits can range from better sales to more efficient and targeted distribution,” pointed out Das Munshi.
The handheld terminal initiative in India has been under planning and conceptualisation for a period of 18 months. The technological enhancement process has also entailed rigorous training of ACNielsen’s mammoth in-house field force with the aid of specialist workshops covering each of ACNielsen field professionals in every state.
“Marketers have always enjoyed the benefits of better quality data because ACNielsen is the country’s only research organisation to possess an in-house field team of over 750 field professionals. Now they can also be assured of the services of India’s most technologically-savvy field force as well.” Das Munshi asserted.