Review of the Nielsen HomeScan Consumer Panel

nielsen homescan panelI don’t remember exactly how long ago it was, maybe three or four years ago, but I used to be a member of the Nielsen HomeScan consumer panel. This panel has surveys you can take just like you get with paid surveys, but another thing they do is actually mail you a handheld scanner to use for scanning your grocery purchases at home. The Nielsen company has been around for a long time and gathering consumer data is what they do. For instance, I know there are some people who monitor their TV watching habits for Nielsen. They have another program where you let them track your internet surfing habits. So this grocery thing is something else they are behind.

Is the handheld scanner they send free?

Yes, it’s completely free, but you have to send it back to them if you decide at any point you don’t want to participate. If you decide you no longer want to be a panel member, they will send you a prepaid shipping label to use for sending it back. Be sure and keep the original box it comes in too so you won’t have to worry about coming up with a box.

What do you get in return for scanning your grocery purchases?

Sweepstakes entries and redeemable points. They have a catalog of rewards, and you can use your points for things in the catalog.

How does the scanning process work?

Once you have it, you turn it on and scan the barcodes on your grocery items when you bring them in. Sometimes this isn’t as easy as it looks. For each item, they want to know the quantity and also whether or not you used a coupon for the item. If you shop at certain stores, the price will automatically come up, but at other stores it won’t and you may have to enter it manually. For that reason you need to be sure to have your receipt on hand while you’re doing the scanning. You get points in your Nielsen account for everything you scan.

At the end of each week, you have to transmit your data through to Nielsen. To do this, I had to hook the scanner into my computer and then press a few buttons on the scanner to get everything to send through to them. This only took a few minutes to do if I’m recalling correctly.

Who can sign up?

The Nielsen HomeScan panel is open to the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and possibly other countries as well.

How do you sign up for the HomeScan panel?

You can sign up here if you are in the US. Below are the sign up links for other countries –

Signing up is free and easy, but there may be a waiting list. Apparently a lot of people want to do this and get the little scanner like I did at one time. For what it’s worth, I do not think that I had to wait that long to get in.

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  1. Karen says

    I totally agree with Anna, it took mew 4 years to 100,000 points which I thought I could get $100.00 for, NOT~!!!!
    I did get a cordless phone but all that hassle after shopping? Plus their stupid surveys that ask what I purchased and where and I can’t remember!!
    Often my husband gets really upset, looking for stupid receipts and sometimes I have to put in the amount and sometimes not, depending on the store.
    I am still doing it but I WOULD NOT recommend it to anyone, especially if they have money and buy lots of groceries.
    We are on a limited income so I thought I’d supplement it, not worth it!

  2. Deb Knight says

    I have tried this, and yes it was kind of fun and I felt like I was maybe doing something worthwhile until I looked online at the catalog listings and saw how many point things cost…and most of it wasn’t even all that great. Even a small toy would probably take nearly a full year of scanning weekly in order to gain enough points. It really hasn’t changed all that much from what you described and I am about ready to send back my scanner as well. I feel I received nothing more than frustration and disappointment with this one. They do now have a “non-bar code” paper that you can scan for things like coffee or even meats at the store, but you scan the card, input the cost, how much you purchased etc. It really is more of a chore than it’s worth.I find the most annoying part is the fact that if you skip a couple weeks of scanning or forget to scan before putting away your groceries and therefore don’t send in your scan results for the week, they will begin to call you numerous times a day, every single day! Since the number shows up as a local number but UNKNOWN on the caller ID, I never answer figuring it’s a telemarketer or something like that. Sometimes they leave a message saying that they didn’t receive my scan this week and if I am having problems I should call them, other times they leave no message at all. I feel like I am being hounded by either a bill collector or a ticked off boss for not showing up at work when in all reality this is completely voluntary on my part.

    Bottom line, I do not feel this is worth the hassle or the time and I would not recommend it to anyone.

  3. Lisa says

    I had the same experience. It sounds like we were doing it around the same time period. I did it for a couple of years, but it WAS more of a chore, after a while. And, quite frankly, If I had to get gas on an errand run, I would not always remember to ‘SCAN EVERYTHING’! And, sometimes, there just were not codes for certain things. I don’t mean to sound negative – the concept is good, but it does get much more time consuming, as time goes on, and the rewards take a LONG time to accrue to get anything that you would really feel like was worth the inconvenience.

    • says

      That’s exactly how I felt about it Lisa. I loved it at first but after a while it became more of a chore and I decided the rewards were not worth the trouble for me personally. But then I know there are some people who have done this religiously for years.

      Ultimately wasn’t for me, but something others might enjoy. This is pretty much the only thing through Nielsen I have done. The internet tracking thing I didn’t like the sound of.

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