In a statement, Wal-Mart Vice President Robert Atencio said the company needs such data to "successfully grow our business by understanding what today's consumer is looking for and tailoring our business to deliver it." Some industry observers expressed surprise that the retail giant didn't already have similar research at hand.
In its last fiscal year, Wal-Mart posted its smallest gain since 1980. It has blamed merchandising mistakes. This year, it expects to have to face the fact that increased gas prices are eroding the buying power of its base of lower-income shoppers.
Wal-Mart will also use NPD's custom search options to address other specific information needs, according to the statement.
--Nina M. Lentini