I’ve been a panelist on the National Consumer Panel (also known as NCP) for a little over a year now, and though this post isn’t an advertisement for them, my membership with them certainly inspired it. They’re considered a Consumer Tracking Organization – a group who’s sole purpose is to track what people spend money on over the long term (and where) in order to help retailers adjust for demand. They’re rather unique in the sense that they track EVERYTHING through a scanner system, and they’re self reported, so you don’t HAVE to report a purchase if you don’t want to. Membership is free and the rewards take forever to earn, but for the purposes of this post they’re a perfect example: because your opinions and purchases (via surveys and scanning) are reported anonymously and directly to retailers and manufacturers.
In other words, consumer tracking agencies are all about making your opinions count, and as a vegan this is extremely important. There are other organizations (Mypoints is another example that I know of) that do similar things in a less “invasive” manner, mostly via surveys. Heck, the cookies in your web browser can help serve this purpose!
Although the title of the post sounds a little ominous (after all who wants to be tracked?) I assure you that this is one of the best ways you can make a difference directly with retailers. For people of size with low self esteem (or people with social anxiety) this is one of the most direct ways to make a difference without being forced into a large amount of uncomfortable human contact. In other words, it’s a great way to express your values to retailers without having to call, email, or talk to anyone directly.
Even without social anxiety issues, consumer tracking organizations are still one of the better ways to show that there is a demand for vegan products. By reporting your purchases via surveys, a scanner, or the loyalty club at your local grocer, you’re showing consistently that there IS a demand for vegan products. Plus a lot of the programs have rewards attached to them as well, giving even more of a reason to “sell” this information to the various tracking organizations.
If you have an interest in getting involved this way, start by checking forums and the like for reputable survey sites and rewards programs. Check out NCP. Sign up for local loyalty programs, such as the Kroger/Fred Meyer/QFC cards up here. For other Pacific Northwest stores, there is also Costco memberships (because they do track what you buy), Safeway, Albertsons, Haggen, and Whole Foods memberships. Even Barnes and Noble or Amazon Prime memberships can show when you buy vegan cookbooks!
Although this sort of privacy invasion may not be for everyone, it definitely qualifies under the header of Making A Difference. Particularly if enough of us survey to show that yes, we’re vegan, no we’re not wavering, and yes, there really is a demand for cruelty-free products.