ACNIELSEN CHARTS PATH FROM ATTITUDES TO BUYING

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. -- How long does it take consumer sentiment -- say, for example, that the country is headed into a recession -- to translate into purchasing behavior -- say, for example, trading down from foie gras to peanut butter as a snack food?the purchasing behavior of food, health and beauty aids, and nonfood consumer-packaged goods, as measured by ACNielsen's 55,000-household Homescan consumer

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. -- How long does it take consumer sentiment -- say, for example, that the country is headed into a recession -- to translate into purchasing behavior -- say, for example, trading down from foie gras to peanut butter as a snack food?

the purchasing behavior of food, health and beauty aids, and nonfood consumer-packaged goods, as measured by ACNielsen's 55,000-household Homescan consumer panel.

Nick Sorvillo, Homescan senior vice president, told SN this information will enable retailers to do a better job of matching their mix of products and services to changing consumer demands.

"This will give a strong directional read to retailers and manufacturers about what products and services need to be delivered to the industry," he said.

He also said ACNielsen is fine-tuning its measurement of the pulse of the U.S. consumer with two additional tools. One will be a quarterly survey of consumer attitudes, based on the answers to a battery of questions posed to half of the Homescan households.

The other will involve analyzing the category and brand structure of purchases made by the households. "We'll be able to give retailers and manufacturers specifics of what products are going to be hot and which are not," he said.

Sorvillo said that these measurement tools will become more important as change becomes more pervasive in the U.S. marketplace.

"We always felt the best indicator of future behavior was past behavior," he explained, "but we are seeing that paradigm turned on its head.

"Now, we see that attitudinal shifts are as predictive of the future as is what happened in the past."