Review of Nielsen’s Homescan Consumer Panels



Like many people out there was looking to leverage surveys and other sites to help generate a side income or at least win some perks and free stuff.  One of the most legitimate enterprises I have found was Nielsen’s Homescan Consumer Panels.  This company will actually mail you a bar code scanner, and all the instructions to participate.

Picture of equipment sent to me:
homescan

So, the idea is simple or so I thought.  You scan all of your purchased items bar-codes into the scanner, plug the scanner into your computer via USB and it uploads your spending and shopping patterns.  You get awarded points based on how often you submit uploads (you must submit weekly) and how long you were a panelist and you start out by getting only 150 points per week, but the longer you are with the company the more points per week you get.  You get 1,000 bonus points for signing up and each scan enters you in weekly drawings, and there are monthly and quarterly drawings as well.  These range from $25, $50 and to $1000.

I haven’t won any random drawings nor do I expect to, but I did simply scan and see.  The program in the scanner when connected for the first time downloads a huge list of stores in your area.  It does this well, as almost every store I can shop at is in my homescanner.  The product is fairly easy to use, but could use a search function.  When I want to select Walmart, I have to scroll through A-W to find the store, even with the scroll 5 at a time button, this can take some time.

The problem you very quickly discover is how tedious this whole process becomes, if I shop at Fry’s Food and Drug, each item I scan the device does not need you to enter price, but each item scanned you have to enter whether or not you used a coupon and quantity.  This isn’t to bad, but the problem is when you shop at a store like Walmart, where for each item scanned it wants you to input price.  This involves going through your Walmart receipt and finding the abbreviated item, then the price.  This now becomes nasty, I shop for like 50 things at Walmart at a time, I don’t need to go line by line scanning boxes and inputting prices.

This whole system would be so much better if you can just scan the store receipt and it can pick the items and totals from the receipt itself, instead of scanning the bar code one each and every item.  In addition, at a bare minimum you should not have to enter prices for each item when shopping at Walmart, I don’t know why the system will work with Safeway or Fry’s Food and Drug without manually entering prices.

So I do all of this, and browse the reward catalog and even the shoddiest and most useless awards are in the 12,000+ point range, so I have to endure literally all of this inconvenience for minimum of 9+ months to even collect enough points to get a token item that is practically useless?  They should add gift cards to the list of rewards, but they do not.  Gift Cards are worth saving points up for, even if you could get a $25 gift card at least every 6 or 9 months it would be worth it for some simple scanning.

As a result I am considering backing out of the program, they have the scanner sent to you with a return UPS postage so you can send it back to them for free when you cancel the program.  I will stick it out a few more weeks and see if I win any drawings or gift cards, but I am not holding out any hopes.

  • In Summary:

For those who have the time and want to participate in volunteering your shopping habits, you can participate in Nielsen’s Homescan, where you are asked to scan the bar-code of every product you buy from just about any store.  Even a candy bar from a vending machine is requested.  It is tedious, cumbersome and takes more time than you would think.  Especially if the store doesn’t have prices automated like Walmart and you are required to input each purchase price.

The rewards catalog is very minimal not nearly as good as most credit cards reward catalogues, and you collect points 150 per week at first (600 per month) which takes almost a year to even get the most minor rewards.  So I am not terribly impressed with this program at a first glance.  I think surely a $10 gift card every month or two for collecting and submitting all this data should be worth something.

-Dragon Blogger

Justin Germino
Working in the IT Industry for over 17 years starting with OS, Networking and then moving into web based technologies including authentication and online security. Dragon Blogger has unique insights and opinions to how the internet and web technology works. An Avid movie fan, video game fan and fan of trying anything and everything new.
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