Ratings for EVERYTHING

downloadEver since I was a little kid, I’ve been fascinated by ratings. I remember eagerly opening up the newspaper every week to look at the box office results, a habit I continue to this day (online). I love seeing how much each movie earned and how it compared to the other movies that week.

Similarly, I’m intrigued by lists of bestselling books and snapshots of the most-watched TV shows each week. And occasionally I discover new music through the iTunes billboard.

The leader of most of these ratings, charts, and statistics, of course, is Nielsen. It’s an audience measurement company that has been around since the 1920s, when their focus was on radio.

I recently went searching for Nielsen’s current list for television–I think I wanted to see if my beloved Survivor made the list. What I found, though, was far more interesting.

Nielsen now rates everything. 

Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but it’s pretty close. Nielsen has a top 10 list they post every now and then (the frequency is quite vague) that encompasses way more categories than you might think. For example, for the last few weeks, did you know that:

  • FIFA 16 was the #1 video game?
  • Fantastic Four–which approximately 3 people saw in the theater–was the #7 most-purchased DVD and Blu-ray? Elf, a 2003 film was #10.
  • WWE Monday Night RAW was #9 on the “social” list?

This is where it gets really weird:

  • Jack Daniel’s was #1 on the alcohol list at $27 million in sales. Yes, $27 million was spent on Jack Daniel’s in one month.
  • Maybelline was #1 on the health and beauty list at $93 million! In one month! I’m the most bewildered by this. How is that even possible? Pantene won in the hair products subcategory, and Neutrogena took the skin care subcategory.
  • Nestle Pure Life is the #1 water. Yes, Nielsen tracks bottled water sales, along with soda (Coca-Cola, by a longshot) and coffee (Folgers, surprisingly).
  • Finally, Snacks (salty and sweet). Lay’s has a HUGE lead over Doritos in the salty category, and Kisses (Hershey’s, I assume) won sweets.

Seriously, I love this stuff. Who knew that Nielsen was tracking things like alcohol, skin lotion, bottled water, and candy? I sure didn’t. If you find anything interesting on the top 10 chart, let me know. It’s actually quite easy to read–it’s a nice layout–but it’s a lot of data, so I’m sure I missed something cool.

6 thoughts on “Ratings for EVERYTHING”

  1. To blow your mind even more, I think those are actually weekly totals, not monthly. Most of them say “Week ended” or “Week of.”

    I’d be curious to see the alcohol totals during a regular, non-holiday week. What’s showing now is for Christmas week, and I’m sure a lot of people purchased extra alcohol to get through all of that time with their families!

    Also, Maybelline has debuted a huge number of new products in their line during the last few weeks (as have several other drugstore beauty brands). They could be seeing a big spike due to that. I wish there was a way to toggle the date like you can with the category so that you could compare it with the sales data over previous weeks. But then I probably wouldn’t get anything else done today! 🙂

  2. @Katie: Yeah, I wasn’t sure about week vs. month. There’s a note at the bottom of each tab (it’s different per tab) that says how often the ratings are compiled. That’s a good point about alcohol consumption during the holidays and upticks during new product launches.

    @RodeoClown: Indeed, I don’t, but it still amazes me! I know those items are expensive, but I figure they last a long time.

  3. My wife and I used to be a Nielsen family. We had to keep a journal of all the TV we watched. I haven’t gotten a survey in a few years now, maybe because we never watched live TV, only streaming.

    As a data nerd, I love this stuff. It makes perfect sense that Nielsen tracks the retail data, since consumer product companies are their target market. TV ratings allow marketers to target their demographics > consumer products advertise on shows watched by their audience > the same companies need to analyze the effectiveness of an ad-buy. Imagine you’re a marketing exec with L’Oreal, You want to know what shows 30 & 40 something women watch so you can advertise to them, then you want to test how well your ad worked by looking at sales in the next couple of weeks after the ad buy.

    Even crazier is that they probably can break a lot of that data down into demographic categories. When you scan a loyalty card at the grocery store, or use a store-branded card to pay, they know who you are, how old you are, your gender, etc… There are also ways to cross-tab purchases so that you know that your hair color product is purchased a lot by new moms, because they buy diapers and formula in the same purchase.

  4. [Jamey – it looks like replying to comments doesn’t seem to be working quite right here].

    Re: Cosmetics — they don’t last anywhere near as long as they look like they’d last! (and the cometics companies have a vested interest in having people use waaay more than they need/applying them more often)


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