R.R. Bowker Exec Offers an Inside Look at New Consumer Data Service
A new subscription data service, one that takes a detailed look at a vast array of consumer behavior, could help the industry get inside the mind of book consumers more than it ever has before.
R.R. Bowker, best known for providing bibliographic data for the book industry, introduced its PubTrack Consumer product earlier this month. The service will offer static product information, data that Kelly Gallagher, Bowker’s general manager of business intelligence, says will empower the industry to know their customers much better than they have in the past.
According to Gallagher, the primary distinguisher between the new Bowker product and other surveys that collect sales data from individual point-of-sale products is that PubTrack Consumer will give subscriber knowledge of more detailed consumer habits over an ongoing period.
The sample group, which is regularly polled, represents a sample of the general U.S. buying public, ages 13 and up, Gallagher says.
“The long-term value of consumer-based data is not only the direct insights that it provides, but the significant complement it can have to sales data products,” he says. “The two will work together, to not only know on the ISBN level, but to also know better who the customer is. Our approach will really work very well in complementing what [publishers and retailers] are already doing. Largely, it’s the consumer at the end of the day that we don’t know a whole lot about and need to know more about if we’re going to ultimately increase the foot traffic.”
Beginning Jan. 1, 30,000 qualified respondents have been mailed a weekly survey asking them about their buying habits and media preferences. At the end of the year, PubTrack Consumer will end up with a static panel comprised of those who have filled out the survey at least 80 percent of the time. MarketTools, an established survey company in the industry, is conducting the surveys.
“This is the only product that we’re aware of in the U.S. that is going to provide static product information,” Gallagher says.
Random House was on board as a licensee at the time of the launch, Gallagher says.
Bowker’s primary goal was to have a publisher with the size and respect of Random House in place prior to the actual launch of the product. Now, he says, they are in the negotiating process with several other publishers about licensing the product.
Besides book publishers, Gallagher say other segments of the industry could benefit from the new data.
“If you were going to create a bull’s-eye, the center point of the bull’s-eye would be publishers,” he says. “However, retailers would closely follow. A retailer knows their own customer very well. What they either don’t have, or what costs them a considerable amount of money is to research their competitors. This product, because it’s capturing at the consumer level, shows sales across the entire market space and beyond.”