Does it seem nerdy to worry about data structure when your goal is business insight?
It’s not (I promise). Understanding the nitty gritty of your IRI or Nielsen data will ensure you buy the right information and interpret it correctly.
The 4 Dimensions are the grammar of the scanner data language. They impact the price you pay for the data, what you are able to do with the data, and how you think about what data to pull for your analysis.
Dimension #1: Products
Items, rolled up to brand or sub brand, rolled up to segments, rolled up to categories. In other words, the thing the consumer chooses from the shelf and buys at the register.
Dimension #2: Markets
Many, many markets are available but they fundamentally separate themselves into two groups: retail accounts (e.g. Kroger or Stop & Shop) and physical geography (e.g. Total US or New England Census Region or San Francisco trading area).
Dimension #3: Periods
Weeks, 4-weeks, quarters, years, fiscal years and many other possible groupings.
Dimension #4: Facts (also called Measures)
Dollars, units, price, distribution, trade promotion conditions (feature and display), and velocity (sales rate). There are many, many permutations of these basic fact types.
Before you buy, ask yourself: What do I need from each dimension to ensure I can answer my business questions?