The Retail Intelligence System collection grew out of a consulting firm, Management Horizons, formed in 1974 by Ohio State University Professors William R. Davidson and Alton F. Doody, and Indiana University Professor Bert C. McCammon, Jr. McCammon commented that marketing was a 'throw-away' discipline and the trio resolved to keep a record of the materials they developed about retailing for a steadily growing list of clients. McCammon later became a professor at the University of Oklahoma and, with Professor Davidson, provided a complete set of the Retail Intelligence System (RIS) publications for archival purposes.
The Management Horizons original group grew into a fully staffed marketing consulting firm that was the world's largest retail consulting firm by 1984. A merger with Price Waterhouse (now PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP) in 1985 enabled growth to some 200 domestic and international clients who subscribe to the information developed by RIS. The information provided to the clients of RIS remains proprietary data for six months before it becomes available in the Bass Collection.
The industry baseline studies produced in the Retail Yearbook include public domain information taken from various government and trade sources supplemented by proprietary research and analysis from consumer survey research, data gathered from retail store visits, and selected expert interviews. By focusing on a specific industry sector, clients are able to have comparative data such as growth and protected growth, merchandise mix and performance, and customer profiles.
Retail Preview has separate issues for soft goods, home goods, consumables, and addresses planning issues likely to occur over the next 12-18 months. In-field observations of the consulting staff are published in Intelligence Update and focus on industry and company financial performance. The Retail Economist provides a macro view of the economic and political, and how it is likely to affect the retailing industry.