Nielson Holdings PLC represents the British-based, truly global data, information, and measurement firm which was originally started in the United States. Today it operates in more than 100 countries around the world and counts 44,000 staff among its worldwide employees. In 2015, they announced aggregate revenues of $6.2 billion. As a company with enormous operations in the U.S., it is listed on the NYSE New York Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange. The company is presently an S&P 500 component.
For 2016, the American Marketing Association named Nielson as its top firm out of the top 50 Market Research Firms active in the United States. Arthur C. Nielson, Sr. originally founded Nielson back in 1923. He remains famous for his invention of the idea to measure competitive sales which led to the concept of “market share.” He receives credit for coining and making famous this phrase that is ubiquitous within the United States and developed world today.
Though the company existed separately in the United States and Europe (where it traded and was headquartered initially in the Netherlands), a merger of the two sister companies in August of 2015 led to the creation of the present day (sole surviving) version of the unified company Nielson Holdings PLC based in London. The cross border merger allowed by the European Cross-Border Merger Directive allowed for this combination to occur.
Today’s Nielson Holdings remains headquartered in the United Kingdom in both England and Wales. Nielson has become the leading, multinational, independent data and measurement firm of consumer behavior, quick-selling consumer goods, and media. Its presence in over 100 countries means that its reach extends to over 90 percent of the world’s population and total GDP. Nielson delivers an exhaustive understanding of what consumers are looking at in advertising and programming to its customers. It also reveals what they purchase in products, brand names, and categories on a local, domestic, regional, and global scale and how these choices meet and intersect. As such, the firm is active in both developed and emerging markets throughout the world.
It is interesting that the Nielson brand is usually thought of in connection with its famous Nielson TV ratings. Yet as a percentage of the company’s revenues and business it only comprises about a quarter of the total. The company has labored for years to simplify the organization of its vast and far flung, diverse business enterprises. As a result of these intensive efforts, they have reorganized their business lines along two reporting divisions. These are “Buy,” the consumer purchasing analytics and measurement division, and “Watch,” the media audience analytics and measurement division.
The Buy division represents around 55 percent of this global behemoth’s revenues. It mainly assists retailers, packaged goods makers, and Wall Street analysts with understanding the interests and purchases of consumers in broad categories and specific products and brands. The aim of this division is to gather and measure all of the purchases consumers make even while their purchasing behavior is fragmenting continuously over both market segments and channels.
This division’s data actually determines the amount of Diet Pepsi vs. Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper which stores sell, as well as the amount of Colgate versus Crest toothpaste retailers vend. They do this in practice by buying and analyzing enormous quantities of retail data showing what the stores are selling. They combine this with their own data from household panels of surveys which gather information on what consumers bring home. This division’s most important clients include Nestle, The Coca-Cola Company, Unilever Group, Procter and Gamble Company, and Wal-Mart. The buy division extends over 106 countries now, though the U.S. remains the biggest market of this division.
The other group is the Watch division. This segment represents around 45 percent of worldwide revenues. It mostly measures what consumers listen to and watch over the majority of devices and channels. This includes television, computers, radio, cell phones, over the top, and other mobile devices. As such, they measure consumers’ interest in both advertising and programming over all points of distribution. They call their proprietary data measuring machine the Nielson’s Total Audience Measurement system. This division’s most important clients include NBC Universal, CBS, The Walt Disney Company, and News Corporation. It measures media performances in 47 nations which collectively represent around 80 percent of worldwide advertising budgets.