Thursday, February 9, 2012

National Consumer Panel

Have you ever heard of "Nielsen ratings"?  I always wanted to be a "Neilsen home" when I was younger, because I wanted to have some say in the shows that were on TV.  Even though we haven't had cable TV since our daughter was 3 months old, I grew up watching A LOT of television.  Anyway, I received an invitation to join the "National Consumer Panel" which is listed as "a Neilsen/Symphony/RI Joint Venture".  At first, I ignored it, as I do many of the invitations to fill out surveys, though I do fill out quite a few surveys, because I want my opinion heard.  Then, one day, it dawned on me that it now, more than ever, I need to make my "voice" heard, for my daughter's sake.  Now, instead of want to have a say in what's on TV, I want to have a say in what's on the local store shelves!

This is how the NCP program works.  You submit an application and if you are accepted, they send you a barcode scanner.  At first, it is only loaded with a few basic store names/types.  After you submit your first "practice" shopping trip, they will send you the customized list of stores in your area.  When you come home from the store, you select the store from the list, then scan your items.  For many popular chains, you will not have to enter prices, but for some stores, it will ask you to enter prices, so just keep your receipt handy.  After you scan all of your items that have barcodes, it will ask you for the total spent, included non-barcoded items.  Each week, you hook your scanner up to you computer and transmit the information to NCP.  You get entered into drawings for submitting information weekly and you get points for entering surveys.  Points can be redeemed for prizes, etc.

Honestly, I'm really not all that interested in those aspects.  I don't care about earning points to redeem for a pair of slippers or a new universal remote.  I just want the people looking at this data to see us, a food allergy household, and analyze our shopping habits.  I want to put a food allergy household on the marketing map.  I want manufacturers to notice and pay attention to the volume of allergy-safe/allergy-friendly foods that we are purchasing.  Our family's hard-earned dollars are being poured into these products and with great frequency.  I encourage all of the food allergy families out there to apply, so we can all make our purchasing dollars count.  I understand that because of our children's multiple food allergies we buy a lot of fresh vegetables and things without barcodes, but for those items with barcodes, let's get our shopping activity noticed and hopefully bring more allergy-friendly products to the market.  It is really only a mild inconvenience to scan your purchases and I, personally, find it fun to scan the barcodes and go beep-beep-beep.  You could even involve your kids in the process!

Here's the link to their registration page.  I know it involves some effort, but I believe it is worth it!

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