If you’re sick and tired of trying out different paid survey platforms without being able to earn a buck, we have good news. Not all market research platforms are based on collecting user data via surveys alone. Not all of them will have you spend 20 minutes on a pre-survey that is only meant to disqualify you from the actual paid survey.

Meet National Consumer Panel, a system that will always deliver – provided you manage to enter. Find out everything you need to know in this National Consumer Panel Review.

Overview

National Consumer Panel was founded as a joint venture between two consumer insights providers, IRi and Nielsen. These two firms have been operating since 1923. Their model for gathering consumer insights is pretty different from their competitors. Like the majority of market research panels, they offer you a possibility to earn by filling out surveys and studies. But their main selling point is somewhere else.

Provided your household is eligible, they will send you a special scanning device or access to their mobile app. You are supposed to bring the device to your normal shopping trips and scan barcodes on the products you buy. What they need from you is information on who buys, what they buy, where they buy, whether they use member cards, and so on. In return, you will get points convertible into various prizes.

Can Everybody Join and How?

Everybody can sign up for an account. But unfortunately, not everybody will be approved. They have rigorous specifications as to their target demographics, and they will let you in only if you are an exact match with what they currently need.

But the good news is that you can enlist in just a few minutes. Head over to their website and enter your personal information. After you submit your info, it shouldn’t take more than a few days for them to decide if you’re a match or not. If you get an email for them inviting you to join, bingo! They will mail the device or send you access to their mobile app. Since the entire process is free, there’s nothing to lose.

Woman working on an online survey

I Managed to Get in. What’s Next?

No need to set up anything – just head to the stores like you would normally do. After each shopping trip, scan the barcodes of the groceries and other stuff you bought. At the end of each week, you will just transmit your shopping data to National Consumer Panel.

Plus, there will be optional questionnaires and surveys to fill out from time to time. Every survey you finish up will get you more points.

What Prizes Are Available?

This system doesn’t allow you to earn cash. The points you get will be converted into prizes once you meet the 8,000 points threshold, which translates to about $10. You can exchange points for gift cards (iTunes and Amazon among others), kitchen and home appliances and various other merchandise such as sewing machines, luggage, food choppers, charity donations, sweepstakes entries, as well as different discounts.

Just for submitting your shopping data, you will get 150 bonus points each week. Plus, you will receive an extra 250 points on your birthday, as well as up to 1,500 bonus points on your 3-month and 1-year anniversaries.

Pros

  • Even though they are not accredited with the BBB (Better Business Bureau), National Consumer Panel is a legit enterprise that’s been recognized as a good company. It’s been a holder of Best Companies to Work for Award for the last three years. One of NCP’s parent companies, Nielsen, has a rating of A+ on BBB. All of this, along with many positive user experiences throughout the decades, confirms they are legit.
  • The biggest pro is that the system never fails to deliver. Whenever you submit your purchasing information, you will automatically get your points. Unlike most other consumer insights panels, this one doesn’t exclusively rely on surveys, which means you will be spared the frustration of wasting your time on qualification surveys.
  • Earning points is very easy. Most people own a smartphone these days, and if you’re one of them, all you have to do is install their mobile app, which is very user friendly. Your info will be automatically sent out at the end of the week. If you are eligible for their system but don’t have a smartphone, they will send you their scanning device.
  • Many happy users have been working with National Consumer Panel or its parent firms for decades now.
  • As soon as you get approved to join the National Consumer Panel, you will become automatically eligible for discounts at retailers such as AT&T.

Cons

  • There is no way to get admitted if your household isn’t eligible. They aren’t even transparent about the eligibility terms – you will just have to give it a shot and hope you match their profile.
  • They don’t pay in cash. All you get to earn is points that are convertible into things you might not even need.
  • It’s not easy to meet the 8,000 points threshold so that you can cash out.
  • Scanning products’ barcodes can be a bit time consuming – especially considering the fact that some groceries such as frozen food aren’t barcoded, so you’ll have to manually enter the data.
  • According to customer complaints with Better Business Bureau, the scanning device can be a big issue if they want you to return it. They even requested it from people who never actually got the device, threatening legal action in case their demands are not met. This issue can be prevented by installing their app instead of working with their gadget.
  • If you don’t transmit your shopping information for whatever reason, they will call you multiple times to remind you. That can be a bit of a downside for people who don’t do much shopping on a regular basis.

Final Verdict: Give It a Try

In spite of a few issues and drawbacks, we still think this system is worth trying. There’s nothing to lose! True enough, you will have a hard time earning lots of points, but it stands for most market research panels. Unlike their competitors, National Consumer Panel won’t require you to do things that you wouldn’t have done anyway. Considering that it takes comparatively little time and effort on your side, this system is pretty rewarding. So, feel free to give it a shot!