The 4 Key Dimensions In Every Nielsen/IRI Database

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?

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  1. Working through some Nielsen data for Walmart and am unclear as to what the designations are for WMT DIV 1 EAST BU CTA in the MARKETS dimension.

    Specifically, what does the DIV 1 mean–that it excludes supercenters? Secondly, what is BU? I can’t find anything in the geographies that seems to coincide.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Robin Simon says:

      Yes, Division 1 (DIV 1) means the “regular” Walmart stores, excluding Supercenters. Many Div. 1 stores have been converted to Supercenters over the years and the pricing is usually the same for products that are in both types of stores. If WM Div. 1 + Supercenter is available as a geography, that is probably the better one to use. BU means Business Unit, so the East BU is some aggregation of WM Div. 1 stores in Walmart’s definition of their East BU. Nielsen or your WM team should be able to tell you which markets make up the East BU. Hope this helps!

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