Consumer Panel

Understanding the Meaning, Value, and Types of Consumer Panels

What are Consumer Panels?

In today’s fast-paced market, understanding consumer behavior is not just beneficial; it’s essential. Consumer panels stand at the forefront of this understanding, offering a window into the real-world choices and preferences of consumers. But what exactly is a consumer panel? Simply put, it’s a group of selected individuals who provide data over a period of time on their purchasing habits, usage, and attitudes. This data is invaluable for companies in b2c commerce, retail, and more, aiding in strategic decision-making and market analysis.

NielsenIQ (NIQ) and GfK, with their expertise in retail and consumer panels, offer a unique advantage. They provide a holistic view by combining retail and consumer panel data, a distinctive feature that sets them apart in the market. For more insights into their services, visit NIQ’s Consumer Panel Services.


NielsenIQ Homescan Consumer Panel

Track, diagnose, and analyze consumer behavior from more than 250,000 households across 25 countries.

How do Consumer Panels Work?

Consumer panels function by gathering detailed data from a group of individuals representative of a target market. This data collection can range from purchase history to product preferences and lifestyle choices. For these panels to be effective, companies often need to provide background information, ensuring that the panel is accurately aligned with their target demographic. This collaboration is crucial for the panels to yield actionable insights.

Types of Consumer Panels

Consumer panels vary in type and focus. Some common types include:

  • Purchase Panels: Track buying behavior over time.
  • Media Panels: Monitor media consumption patterns.
  • Specialty Panels: Focus on specific demographics or industries.

Each type offers distinct advantages and disadvantages, depending on the industry. For instance, e-commerce businesses might benefit more from purchase panels to track online buying trends, while media panels could be more beneficial for entertainment and advertising industries.

How is Consumer Panel Data Collected?

The collection of consumer panel data involves various methodologies, from direct surveys to digital tracking tools. Companies should be mindful of privacy concerns and ethical considerations when collecting data. The value of the data collected can vary significantly, with some forms offering deeper insights into consumer behavior than others. For industries like retail and e-commerce, understanding these nuances is key to leveraging consumer panel data effectively.

Consumer Panel Pros

Consumer panels offer numerous benefits, especially for industries like retail, e-commerce, consumer technology and FMCG. They provide deep insights into consumer behavior, help in identifying market trends, and aid in making informed strategic decisions.

Data from Consumer Panel Services (CPS) can be combined with data from Retail Measurement Services (RMS), to get a total market view.

RMS and CPS are two primary data service, offering similar yet distinct perspectives on sales and purchasing behaviors. While both services take samples of the population projected across the universe, they differ in their data sources and methodologies. RMS data is sourced from retail stores and provides insights into in-store sales and market performance, such as what, when, and where products are sold. On the other hand, CPS data is sourced from panelists recording their household purchases, offering insights into consumer demographics, behavior, and purchasing patterns intended for home use.

When complementing RMS data with CPS data, businesses can obtain a more comprehensive view of sales among all buyers, including purchases from non-participating retailers. While trends and stories between the datasets are usually aligned, differences in measurement and data capture methods may lead to variations. RMS serves as the premier tool for measuring sales and market share, while CPS helps explain the purchasing behavior behind those sales.

For example, businesses can use RMS data to track changes in brand sales within a specific retailer, while CPS data can be utilized to analyze the reasons behind those changes, such as shifts in buyer demographics or purchasing preferences. In essence, RMS data provides “the buy,” while CPS data offers “the why behind the buy.”

NielsenIQ’s suite of data services, including Retail Measurement Services (RMS) and Consumer Panel Services (CPS), offer complementary resources to build a comprehensive understanding of the market.

NielsenIQ Retail Measurement Services (RMS)

Trust your performance and trend data in retail and e-tail markets with comprehensive CPG market measurement solutions.

How to Use Consumer Panels in Marketing Research

In marketing research, consumer panels can be a goldmine of information. They help companies understand market needs, test product concepts, and refine marketing strategies. This knowledge is crucial for companies in retail, e-commerce, and FMCG to stay competitive and responsive to market changes.

Using Feedback to Test New Products and Services​

Consumer panels are invaluable for testing new products and services. They provide real-world feedback, helping companies refine their offerings and align them more closely with consumer expectations. This approach is particularly effective in industries like retail and e-commerce, where consumer preferences can rapidly evolve.

Testing Ads and Other Campaigns

Consumer panels also play a crucial role in testing advertising campaigns and marketing strategies. By gauging consumer reactions, companies can fine-tune their messaging and delivery, ensuring that their campaigns resonate with their target audience.

Measuring Your Brand Awareness

Understanding and measuring brand awareness is another critical application of consumer panels. They provide insights into how well a brand is recognized and perceived in the market, which is essential for businesses in all sectors, particularly in retail and e-commerce.

Identifying and Analyzing Your Competitors

Competitor analysis through consumer panels helps businesses understand their market position relative to their competitors. This insight is crucial for strategic planning and maintaining a competitive edge.

Improve Your Target Marketing

Consumer panels aid in refining target marketing strategies by providing detailed insights into consumer preferences and behaviors. This targeted approach is particularly beneficial for companies in retail, e-commerce, and FMCG, where understanding the customer is key to success.


In conclusion, NIQ offers comprehensive solutions in consumer panel services, helping businesses harness the power of consumer insights for strategic decision-making. Their expertise in this field is unmatched, providing valuable tools and insights for companies across various industries. Explore their offerings further:

  • NielsenIQ’s Homescan: Track, diagnose, and analyze consumer behavior from more than 250,000 households across 25 countries.
  • NielsenIQ’s Omnishopper: Capture consumer purchases across online and offline channels for a complete view of changing omnichannel behaviors.
  • Consumer analytics: Go deeper and create more clarity around shopper behavior with custom surveys and segmentation.
  • Consumption moments: Reveal the true motivations behind customer consumption behavior and usage to guide product innovation and marketing strategy.

By leveraging the expertise of NIQ, businesses can gain a deeper understanding of their consumers, enabling them to make more informed decisions and stay ahead in the competitive market landscape.