Though diary panels are still in existence in a number of developing countries, most panels today are scan panels. Scan technology essentially relies on bar code, scanner, and the telephone network. Panellists record their daily purchases through a menu-driven interface on handheld scanners (see Exhibits 7.1 and 7.3). The scanner is normally perched on a cradle that connects to the telephone line. The data is polled once a week; typically the cradle is programmed to call the service operator’s computer and download the data.
In the future, data collection methodology will shift from telephony to wireless and internet. Should ePCs (electronic product codes) replace bar codes, which is unlikely in the near future, ePC readers will replace scanners and the task of recording purchases will become less cumbersome.
The preferred mode of data collection of credit card statements and telecom account statements, in soft copy format, is via email/internet. For motorist panels, even SMS messaging using mobile phones should work well.
In future, with the advent of NFC (near-field communication), it would become much easier to track out of home purchases with smart phones and other mobile devices.
Consumer panels offer a very wide repertoire of analysis; some of the most useful ones are covered in this chapter. The TRB Share Prediction model, a technique that predicts the market share for newly launched products, is covered in Chapter Product Validation.
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