Types of Consumer Panels:
1. Audience Panel
Audience panel is quite popular and widely used in advertising and other communication media. Audience panel consists of listeners and viewers of radio and television programmes. The panel members are asked to listen or watch a particular radio or television programme and record their opinions about the specific programme. In India, such panels are used by Doordarshan, All India Radio and other private organizations for finding out viewership per programme, media selection etc.
2. Purchase Panel
It is a group of consumers (mostly housewives) who agree to share their purchasing behaviour with the researcher. Members of purchase panel are asked to record their purchases in a diary supplied to them by the researcher. These, panels use Home Audit and Diary Method for collecting data. Diary Method is very popular and effective. In Diary Method, panel members are supplied with a 58 diary. The members are asked to record regularly the details of purchase made by them. The data collected through diaries can provide an insight into brand preference, pattern of purchase, frequency of purchase. In short, purchase, panels supply on regular basis data on buying behaviour.
3. Dealer Panel
It is a panel of stockiest, distributors etc. established to collect data on sales, stock movement, prices, promotional efforts, after sales services provided etc. Dealer Panel members voluntarily agree to provide information on daily sales and inventory position on a regular basis. Such data enables the marketing executive to study the market trend, selecting suitable channel of distribution, providing after sales services and matters relating to distribution of goods and promotional measures. Dealer panels are established by the manufacturer or by research agencies.
4. Product Testing Panel
It comprises consumers who are given new products for use before it is introduced in the market. Product testing panels are quite familiar with test marketing. The members are given a sample of the product for use, and are asked to give their views on the product quality, packaging, price, brand name etc. Pre-testing of products with panel enables the company to get first hand opinion about the, product from prospective consumers. The data collected from panel members, are useful to remove the drawbacks of the product and improve its acceptability in the market.
5. Retail Store Audit Panel
In retail store audit a sample of retail outlets are selected on the basis of type of organisation (private, public or co-operative) size of the store, total turnover and number of commodities traded. While selecting stores, factors like location, area covered are also considered to make the sample of stores selected entered into with store and the research agency, which allows the verification of stock, audit of all purchases and sale. A representative of the research agency (called auditor) calls on each store at regular interval (say 30-60 days) and checks the stock of selected type of products. The auditors also check the invoices, delivery notes etc. A record is also maintained of selling prices, discount offered, window display and other sales promotional techniques.