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    Startling revelation on American retail

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    A French business intelligence company, Asterop, has revealed that there is as much as $250 billion annual consumers spending that American retailers have yet to tap.

    The research by Asterop, which has a San Francisco office, has indeed given a surprising view of American retail markets and consumer behavior whose fallout the chairman and chief executive officer, Christophe Girardier, said was so dramatic that they amount to “rediscovering America,” media reports said.

    The company’s basic pitch is that it can “rediscover” America by redefining where retail markets are saturated or underserved, where consumers spend above or below the national average in different product categories, and what a market’s growth potential is.

    But proving its credibility will be Asterop’s primary challenge. It is just now unveiling its latest methods to attract more retail clients.

    The research found U.S. as deeply under-retailed when it comes to putting the right kind of stores in the most opportune locations. Asterop estimates, for example, that Americans might spend $80 billion more per year on food and $60 billion more per year on tech products if retailers had a better understanding of the potential for one location and another.

    The Paris-based firm, whose clients include Ikea in Europe and Anchor Blue and Kiehl’s in the United States, was founded in 1999.

    It began operations in U.S. in 2005 through the acquisition of another research company. Girardier projects $10 million in U.S. revenue for Asterop in 2008 and is aiming at $100 million within four years.

    Next week, Asterop plans a formal announcement to publicize its techniques for predicting consumer spending.

    Girardier said his company underwent a profound change after a U.S. retailer raised major questions about the accuracy of some of Asterop’s market analysis.

    They now focus on data they obtain about age, income, occupation and other household characteristics from the Consumer Expenditure Survey (from the Bureau of Labor Statistics) and the U.S. Census Bureau. And they say they’re vetting their statistical work through INRIA, the French national institute for research in computer science and control.