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Large consumer panels offer size, representativeness, and anonymity. Yet there are times when generalizability and projectability are not the goals of the study. In these cases, a panel of conveniently available non–representative consumers – a convenience panel – can be useful. Such a convenience panel can be "cheap, quick, and good" by offering ease and speed of access. Because convenience panels tend to be locally–focused, they can also offer the opportunity to prescreen people for focus groups, in–depth interviews, and face–to–face experimental tasks.
Convenience panels can be called different names depending on who is using them and on how they are using them. Companies often call them "pilot panels," because they are used for pilot studies or for measurement development. Academics call them "academic panels," not surprisingly, but can formally name them based on the focus of their research (e.g. , University of Illinois Food Psychology Panel or the Brand Revitalization Panel). Despite the differences in name, all convenience panels tend to have similar purposes – to easily and quickly generate data (albeit not generalizable) that will be helpful in questionnaire design, idea generation, or theory testing.
Wansink, Brian and Seymour Sudman (2002). Building a Successful Panel. Marketing Research, 23–27.