THE CONSUMER PANEL AS A TOOL FOR MARKET RESEARCH IN HORTICULTURE
The following general information is requested: composition of the family, nationality, sex, age, profession of the family members and social situation of the head of household, the income group as well as information about the possession of certain storage equipment (refrigerator, deepfreezer…). Apart from the data about purchases of the products just mentioned, the families also register data about the days of absence, the meals that family members take out of the house, the self-provisioning and the products received free. As regards the purchases themselves, the following information is recorded: date of purchase, name of the supplying source, purchase in shop with attendance or in self-service, precise name of the purchased products, in the case of loose products the quantity and the price paid for the purchase, in the case of prepacked products the brand name, country of origin, the number of purchased packages, the packing model, the quantity per package and the price. Depending on the product group some additional information has to be given such as size and grade in the case of eggs, the packing material in the case of dairy products, the destination in the case of cut-flowers, pot-plants and bouquets, as well as the conditioning process (fresh, frozen, canned, dried) for those products where this information is meaningful. It is important that the families are given clear instructions on all these topics.
At the end of the trial period that is now running, the A.E.I.-consumer panel will consist of about 3000 households. Each family provides its cooperation about 4 times a year, each time for a two week period, so that continuously one sixth of all families collaborate. After dividing the sample according to the provinces, municipalities were randomly selected, but such that all large towns were automatically represented more or less in proportion to their population. In each municipality the theoretical minimum number of chosen households was five. Those households were also selected on a random basis.
For the practical implementation, which consists of enlisting the families and assisting them, controlling the housekeeping booklets and eventually coding the information, an appeal is made initially for the cooperation of A.E.I. - personnel working in Brussels or stationed elsewhere in the country. As far as necessary, other collaborators are called upon.