Thursday, April 17, 2014

National Consumer Panel Review
Paid Survey Sites


Report Card Grade
0 Reviews
Best Feature:
Smaller panel increases odds of winning sweepstakes
Worst Feature:
Scanning all purchases is tedious and time-consuming
Best Uses:
Homemakers / sweeps enthusiasts with lots of free time
Rewards:
7,200 Gift Points = $10 (rough estimate)
Company:

Join Now

Company Name
Cost

Overview

In 2009, the Nielsen Company and Information Resources, Inc. (IRI) announced they would be combining their Nielsen Homescan™ and IRI Consumer Network™ panels to form an operational joint venture known as the National Consumer Panel (NCP). Nielsen and IRI are two of the top market research companies in the US, and they use NCP to collect data on consumer purchasing behavior for their clients in the manufacturing and retail industries. NCP consists of 100,000 members, all of whom are selected based on their household demographics in order to create a representative sample of the US population as a whole. Therefore, it can sometimes take awhile to be accepted onto the panel because applicants have to wait until there is an opening for someone with their background.

Once accepted, NCP members are equipped with a scanning device (or mobile app) that they must use to record and transmit all of the purchases they make each week. Depending on how you shop, it could take between 10 - 20 minutes a week to scan items, and membership is contingent upon complete and consistent participation. If your logged purchases fall below normal for a household of your size and demographics, NCP reserves the right to cancel your membership and deny access to the mobile app or request that you return the scanner. Besides scanning everyday purchases, panelists may also be asked to participate in occasional online surveys or other types of studies/data collection.

For their participation, panelists are compensated with entries into sweepstakes and with gift points. Sweepstakes are run on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis and give away prizes ranging from a $25 Visa® prepaid card to a brand-new car or a check for $20,000. In terms of gift points, you'll start by earning 150 points per transmission but can earn more points the longer you are on the panel and the more active you are. Gift points can be redeemed on NCP's website (once you have at least 8,000) for merchandise, gift cards or charitable donations. For the most part, you will access earning opportunities with NCP through your scanner or computer. Some panelists who have an iPhone (or other iOS device with a camera) may be invited to access NCPMobile, NCP's free downloadable mobile app, which they can use to scan purchases and participate in surveys.

This is NCP's public homepage. To apply for the panel, you will click the "Join the Panel" box.
Credit: Mary Griffin

Product Report Card Grade

We give National Consumer Panel an A-. NCP is a very reputable panel formed by two of the top market research companies in the US, and we would recommend it to anyone with extra time on their hands who wants to join a “voice of the consumer” panel. We had to deduct points because it is tedious and time-consuming to scan purchases (particularly if you shop at specialty stores or use a lot of coupons) and the number of gift points you earn for weekly transmissions is pretty pitiful. With that said, we’ve chosen to overlook the gift points and focus on the sweepstakes. Since NCP only has 100,000 members, your odds of winning one of the weekly, monthly or quarterly sweepstakes are significantly higher than they would be with most other panel companies. NCP gives away numerous prizes over the year ranging from $25 - $20,000, and we really like being a part of such an exclusive lotto.


 
This Product
Top of Class
Overall Score
65%
75%
70%
Our Awards
Date Reviewed
October 2013
October 2013
October 2013
Pros
Reputable company; smaller panel means higher odds of winning sweepstakes; scanner is easy to set up and use; new NCPMobile app makes scanning easier
Reputable panel; higher than average payouts; panelists prequalified for all product evaluation studies; points redeemable for cash, charity or various merchandise; no minimum redemption balance; fast payment processing; get to try out exciting new products at home
Reputable company; does a very good job of sending relevant survey opportunities; minimum redemption balance is $10; points redeemable for cash, gift cards, merchandise or charity; earn 150 points for each referral; runs numerous sweepstakes
Cons
Scanning purchases is time-consuming and tedious; gift points earned are pretty meager compared to time/effort; can’t redeem points for cash; gift card options are limited; can take a while to be accepted into panel; mobile app is by invitation only and not currently available for Androids; details on panel not readily available outside of members’ area
Can be difficult to join; website has very bad, dated user interface; fewer survey opportunities (about 1 – 2 per month); some complaints of unresponsive support; aren’t able to select your own username/password; doesn’t offer a mobile app
Many complaints about customer service); BBB has received complaints that reward points aren’t provided in a timely manner; can’t make updates to your lifestyle profile; FAQ page isn’t easily searchable and basically impossible to find for non-members; limited functionality on mobile app
Industry Presence (10%)
Member Experience (5%)
Earning Opportunities (20%)
Rewards Program (25%)
Ease of Accessing Opportunities (10%)
Redeeming Rewards (20%)
User Feedback (10%)
Affiliations
BBB
CASRO
ESOMAR
MRA
BBB
CASRO
ESOMAR
MRA
BBB
CASRO
ESOMAR
MRA
Open or Invitation-Only Membership
Invitation-Only
Invitation-Only
Open
Minimum Age
18+
13+
16+
Types of Paid Research
Product Scanning
Online Surveys
Online Surveys
Product Testing
Online Surveys
Mini Polls
Focus Groups
Online Communities
Product Testing
Minimum Time Requirements
Yes, at least 10 – 20 minutes per week
Yes, about 20 minutes per month
None
Rewards System
Points
Sweepstakes
Points
Sweepstakes
Points
Sweepstakes
Rewards Points Conversion
7,200 points = $10 (estimate)
1,000 points = $10
1,100 points = $10
Sweepstakes
Weekly
Monthly
Quarterly
Bi-Weekly
Daily
Monthly
Quarterly
Payout Options
Gift Cards
Merchandise
Charitable Donations
Cash
Charitable Donations
Merchandise
Cash
Gift Cards
e-Certificates
Merchandise
Charitable Donations
Raffle Tickets
Minimum Payout
8,000 points
None
1,100 points
Rewards Processing Time
6 – 8 weeks (Physical Goods)
1 – 3 business days (PayPal)
7 – 10 business days (Check)
2 – 4 weeks (Physical Goods)
10 – 13 business days (PayPal)
7 – 10 business days (e-Certificates)
3 – 8 weeks (Physical Goods)
Profiling Surveys (For Targeting Opportunities)
NCP doesn't ask panelists to complete any additional profiling surveys after registering.
PineCone occasionally sends short household profiling surveys to help them match you with product evaluation studies.
MySurvey.com pays new members 10 points to take a 5-minute profiling survey about their lifestyle.
Earning Rewards
Members earn gift points and/or sweepstakes entries by submitting their purchases on a weekly basis and by participating in occasional online surveys. For each weekly transmission, you’ll receive sweepstakes entries and gift points. You’ll start by receiving 150 gift points per week, but you will eligible to receive more points the longer you are on the panel. Additionally, the more often you submit your weekly purchases, the more gift points you can potentially earn and the more sweepstakes entries you’ll receive.
Members earn rewards for completing product evaluation studies and household profiling surveys. Product evaluation studies could be theoretical or require actual in-home testing. These studies average 1 – 2 per month, take about 15 – 20 minutes to complete and pay 300 rewards points ($3). Household profiling surveys are unpaid, but only take an average of 2 – 5 minutes to complete. However, members will automatically receive an entry into PineCone’s $500 bi-weekly sweepstakes for taking profiling surveys (and for their participation in product evaluation studies).
Members primarily earn rewards for participating in mini polls and surveys, but they may also be asked to join other research studies. While compensation varies by study, typical surveys take about 15 – 20 minutes to complete and pay around 50 – 200 points. You can expect to receive around 60 - 65 survey opportunities a month. Participating in surveys will earn you points (if you qualify) and/or at least 1 entry into the daily, monthly and quarterly sweepstakes. You can also earn 1 entry into the daily, monthly and quarterly sweepstakes for participating in mini polls, and 1 entry into the daily and quarterly sweepstakes just for logging in to your account.
Referral Bonus
N/A
N/A
150 points
Mobile/Tablet Optimized Website
No
No
No
Mobile App
Yes
No
Yes

ProductReportCard Editors' In-Depth Review


Pros And Cons

Pros

  • Reputable company (JV between IRI and Nielsen - BBB accredited and affiliated with CASRO)
  • Scanner is easy to set up and use
  • Smaller panel means odds of winning sweepstakes are more in your favor if you consistently participate
  • Scanner comes with detailed instruction manuals
  • Scanning even easier on the new NCPMobile app that is currently compatible with the iPhone, iPod Touch (with camera), and iPad2 (or above)

Cons

  • Scanning purchases is time-consuming and tedious, so it definitely isn't a panel for people with busy schedules
  • Gift points earned are pretty meager compared to time spent scanning
  • Can't redeem points for cash, and there are limited gift card options
  • Closed panel that only accepts applicants based on demographics in order to maintain representative sample of US population
  • Mobile app is by invitation only and not currently available for Androids
  • Details on panel not readily available outside of members' area

Key Features

Eligibility
All legal US residents are eligible to participate in NCP, but space on the panel is restricted to 100,000 households and members must maintain a representative sampling of the population. To be accepted, your household demographics must fill a gap or need in their panel.
Registration Process
Membership is free, and you just need to submit your name, contact information, date of birth and some additional demographic background in order to complete the initial registration process. Once you submit your information, NCP will review your household demographics against the current needs of their panel. Please keep in mind that it can take some time to be accepted (about 5 weeks for me), but NCP will contact you by email as soon as a space on the panel opens up to confirm your continued interest in joining. If you still want to join, you will then receive an email that confirms the shipment of your scanner (or your access to NCPMobile) and that provides you with your member ID, so you can log on to the members’ area of ncponline.com. NCP will also send an instruction manual and a barcode reference booklet. The scanner or app will already be programmed with stores specific to your area, but you’ll also receive a reference booklet on store names and types for additional convenience.
You will begin the initial registration process on this page. After you have applied, NCP will contact you as soon as they have a scanner available for you.
Credit: Mary Griffin
If you require a scanner, it will come with everything you need to get it up and running. Just in case it is broken or you decide not to participate in the panel, NCP includes a prepaid return label for your convenience.
Credit: Mary Griffin
Targeted Opportunities
Since NCP has carefully chosen each of its members, you will qualify for all of the earning opportunities you receive. Besides regular price scanning, Nielsen/IRI may also use the information they have on your household demographics and shopping habits to send you relevant online surveys for any research they are conducting on behalf of their clients.
Rewards System
NCP compensates its panelists for their participation with gift points and with entries into weekly, monthly and quarterly sweepstakes. The points system is set up so that 7,200 gift points is roughly equal to about $10. We'll discuss how to earn points and sweepstakes entries in the next section, but here is a brief overview of the sweepstakes offered:
  • "Lucky Weeks Sweepstakes": Each week, 10 active panelists will win a $50 Visa® prepaid card.
  • "Monthly Sweepstakes": Each month, 25 active panelists will win a $500 Visa® prepaid card.
  • "Random Surprise & Delight Sweepstakes": Each month, another 25 active panelists will win a $25 Visa® prepaid card.
  • "Pay for Your Shopping": Each month, NCP will reimburse 1 active panelist for one of their recent shopping trips (up to $300).
  • "Grand Prix": Each quarter, 1 active panelist will win their choice of a brand new car from Ford (i.e. Fiesta, Escape, Mustang, Taurus or F-150) or a check for $20,000.
  • "Super Scanner Sweepstakes": Each quarter, 40 active panelists will win a $500 Visa® prepaid card.
  • "Ultimate Shopping Spree": Each quarter, 1 active panelist will win 10 gifts (of their choice) from the current gift selection.
  • "NCP Connect": Each quarter, 10 NCP Connect participants will win a $500 Visa® prepaid card.
  • "Survey Points or Prizes": Panelists will be given the option on select online surveys to receive either gifts points or an entry into a special monthly prize drawing. Each month, 1 panelist will get to choose their prize from a list provided by NCP.
You can check your rewards history and gift point balance from the "Rewards" tab within the members' area.
Credit: Mary Griffin
Earning Rewards
Panelists earn gift points and/or sweepstakes entries by submitting their purchases on a weekly basis and by participating in occasional online surveys or other programs (i.e. NCP Connect). You'll receive 1,000 gift points as a bonus when you sign up, and you will also have the opportunity to take a short welcome survey about the website for another 500 points. After that, you'll start receiving 150 gift points and sweepstakes entries for each weekly transmission you submit.
Scanning is easy once you get the hang of it! If you aren't able to scan a barcode, you can use the barcode reference book to indicate which item you are trying to scan.
Credit: Mary Griffin
You will gradually earn more gift points per weekly transmission the longer you are on the panel.
Credit: Mary Griffin
Your weekly gift points will gradually increase over time, and the more often you submit your weekly purchases, the more gift points you can potentially earn and the more entries you'll receive into the various sweepstakes. Each weekly transmission will earn you one entry into the "Lucky Weeks Sweepstakes", the "Monthly Sweepstakes", the "Random Surprise & Delight Sweepstakes" and the "Pay for Your Shopping" sweepstakes. If you submit all of your purchases each week for a month, you'll receive an additional 350 points as a Super Scanner bonus, and you will also receive one entry into the quarterly "Super Scanner Sweepstakes". If you submit your purchases every week for an entire quarter, you'll also receive one entry into the quarterly "Grand Prix" sweepstakes and the "Ultimate Shopping Spree" sweepstakes. Lastly, NCP will also give you 250 bonus points on your birthday, 1,500 bonus points on your 3-month anniversary, 1,000 bonus points on your 6-month anniversary and 1,000 bonus points on your 1-year anniversary (and each year after that).
Accessing Opportunities
You will primarily access opportunities with NCP using your computer and scanner or NCPMobile. Access to the free mobile app is by invitation only, and it is currently only compatible for the iPhone, iPod Touch (with camera), and iPad2 (or above). The scanner and the mobile app essentially work in the exact same way. After a shopping trip, you'll answer very basic questions about who the primary shopper was on the trip, whether anyone accompanied them, where they went shopping and if they used double or triple coupons. Then, you'll scan the barcode of each item that you purchased individually and enter the quantity purchased, price paid and any deals used. When you are done scanning, you'll enter the total cost of the trip, whether you used a frequent shopper card and how you paid (cash, check, credit, debit or other). NCP stresses that it is equally important to scan larger purchases as it is smaller purchases. Complete and consistent participation is essential to the success of their research.
Instead of the scanning device, some members will be invited to use NCPMobile, the mobile app for the iPhone, iPod Touch (with camera), and iPad2 (or above).
Credit: Mary Griffin
This is the "Home" page of the members' area.
Credit: Mary Griffin
Redeeming Rewards
You can redeem gift points using NCP's online catalog (starting at 8,000 points) for a variety of merchandise (ex. appliances, electronics, sporting equipment, etc.) or gift cards (ex. iTunes, Jiffy Lube, Facebook, etc.). Gift points are also redeemable for charitable donations.
From the "Rewards" page, you can redeem your gift points for gift cards, merchandise or charitable donations.
Credit: Mary Griffin
Rewards Processing Time
After you've placed your order, your gift will arrive in about 6 - 8 weeks. Please note that gifts can only be shipped to physical addresses and not to P.O. boxes.
Time Requirements
You are required to transmit all of your purchases each week or to at least indicate that you have not been shopping. Depending on where and how much shopping you do, it could take between 10 - 20 minutes per week to scan your purchases.
Extra Programs
NCP also offers panelists the opportunity to participate in "NCP Connect", in which software is installed onto your home computer to monitor how you use the computer, how you use the internet and what you buy. For your participation, you will receive one entry into a special quarterly sweepstakes that awards 10 NCP Connect members a $500 Visa® prepaid card.

Reputation

NCP is a very reputable company that is registered with the BBB and affiliated with CASRO.It runs a professional, well-organized panel and offers reliable payouts, but it has received some mixed reviews online from panelists. While some people have really liked the program, others didn't think it was worth their time (or the wait). In my experience, it took about 5 weeks from the time I registered until I was selected to participate on the panel. My scanner arrived in perfect working order and was pretty straightforward to set up. The device itself is relatively small and unobtrusive, so I had hoped to keep it conveniently located in my kitchen, but, unfortunately, it isn't wireless and needs to be plugged into the wireless router in my office. At first, I found it difficult to remember to use it, but I eventually got into the routine of grabbing it before I started to unpack my groceries. The device is so easy to use that you almost don't even need the instruction manual, and the whole process becomes pretty mindless once you've figure out a scanning method that works for you. I personally like to unpack all of my groceries onto the countertop and then scan items as they appear on the receipt before putting them away. A few months into using the scanner, I was invited to try NCPMobile, which was free and easy to install on my phone. The app allows you to input your purchases by using your iPhone's camera to scan barcodes. Even though the functionality is essentially the same, I much prefer using my smartphone instead of the scanning device because the user interface is better and it makes inputting purchases significantly faster.

The bottom line, however, is that scanning all of the items you purchase each week is tedious and time-consuming. Most people complained that it just wasn't worth the effort, especially considering the pitiful number of gift points earned for each transmission. Spending 10 - 20 minutes a week for 150 points? Let's face it, you'd probably earn more money just by checking under your couch cushions. With that said, we still really like NCP and recommend it to anyone who is interested in participating in a "voice of the customer" panel so long as they have extra time they can devote to scanning their purchases each week. Even though you won't earn much in the way of gift points, your odds of winning one of their weekly, monthly or quarterly sweepstakes are significantly higher given the limited number of panelists. It's almost like being a part of an exclusive lotto with multiple chances to win prizes ranging from $25 to $20,000. If you don't have a very busy schedule, we would encourage you to try the scanner for a while to see how you like it. NCP includes a prepaid return label with the scanner in the original box, so you can easily return it if you decide that the panel just isn't for you.


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