Consumer Opinion Institute is just one of the hundreds of survey panels on the web.
It would be nearly impossible for anyone to have enough time to participate in every survey panel in existence, which is why we make the process of finding the best panels for you a little easier with our in-depth reviews.
Which brings us to this review of the Consumer Opinion Institute, a free survey panel that pays you in cash (no points!) for the surveys you take through it. If you want to check out the site for yourself, you can click the link:
Is this survey panel as good as it sounds, and will it be worth your time to join? We’re going to delve into what Consumer Opinion Institute offers to help you make an informed decision.
What is Consumer Opinion Institute?
Consumer Opinion Institute is a semi-exclusive survey panel that only opens registration when it needs to. That’s an interesting concept for a survey panel, many of which allow members to sign up at any time. We’ll get into that more a little later.
This panel has been around since 2012, making it one of the newer panels on the scene. It’s also not one of the most talked-about, probably because it’s somewhat exclusive in who it needs as members.
Not only does the panel close registration at times, but it also restricts new members based on its demographics needs at the time.
For example, if you don’t fall into the needed age bracket, you won’t land a spot on the panel. However, you are welcome to keep checking back with the site to see if registration is open for members like you.
Who Can Become a Member of Consumer Opinion Institute?
There’s not a lot of clear-cut information on who can become a member of Consumer Opinion Institute.
Unlike other survey panels that accept just about anyone 18 or older (some, even 13 or older), Consumer Opinion Institute focuses more on panel members who best fit their needs for the current surveys they have.
From what I can tell, this panel is open only to citizens of the United States. However, I wouldn’t discount it as a possibility that people from other countries could get accepted if a need arises for them to participate in some upcoming research surveys.
The same goes for age. If you happen to fit within the age bracket that the panel is currently looking for, you’re welcome to apply. If not, you can wait and come back another time to see if it’s open for your age group.
How Does Consumer Opinion Institute Work?
Consumer Opinion Institute works a bit differently than other survey panels, not just with its registration process, but also how it sends surveys,
Like other survey panels, you’ll get surveys sent to you when there’s a fit for respondents like you. However, this panel sends surveys both electronically and through snail mail.
That’s something most other panels don’t do, and instead send you invites through your email to take the surveys online.
When you complete a survey from an email link, you just need to follow the instructions on your screen to complete it. Surveys sent through the mail will also have instructions provided. Fill out the survey and send it back in the prepaid envelope.
What Kinds of Surveys Does Consumer Opinion Institute Provide?
Consumer Opinion Institute provides surveys on a wide range of topics like most survey panels do.
One day, you could be answering questions about your grocery shopping habits, and the next day, you’re answering questions about what you love or hate at your current job.
All surveys are for market research purposes. The questions you answer help brands learn about your likes and dislikes so that they can better tailor their products and services to people like you.
Why Does the Panel Send Some Surveys Through the Mail?
I can understand why you might think it’s a little weird that, in this age of technology, a survey panel would choose to send most of its surveys via snail mail. I thought it was weird too until I started thinking about it more.
One of the biggest problems survey panels face is that people fly through their responses in online surveys, hoping to get through the survey quickly and make money.
When you have a paper survey in front of you, you’re probably not as likely to do that. There’s no more click, click, click to get you through the survey.
Although Consumer Opinion Institute doesn’t expressly say that this is why they send some surveys through the mail, I’m willing to bet that it’s most likely the reason.
Some of their partnered companies probably prefer real responses that can be more genuine when taken in person than over the computer.
Pros and Cons of Consumer Opinion Institute
As with any survey panel, Consumer Opinion Institute has a few advantages and disadvantages that are important to consider before you make the leap to join:
- No disqualifications! This panel pre-screens members before sending surveys their way so they always know if they have the right candidates to fill them out.
- No points system. You’ll always know what you make because the panel rewards you with money.
- Most panelists can get one to three surveys per month, unlike some other panels that keep you waiting around for months without a survey.
- Quarterly sweepstakes drawings for $500 for two panel
- Semi-exclusive registration ensures that the panel isn’t oversaturated with members, which means more survey opportunities for you.
- Get paid between $1 and $5 per survey; most surveys take between 10 to 20 minutes to complete.
- Some surveys are sent via snail mail; if you prefer all digital surveys, then this panel probably isn’t for you.
- Registration isn’t always open, so it can be tough to figure out when you might be able to join.
- You’ll have to take a survey when you first join that asks a lot of questions about you, your life, and what you do. Although it isn’t paid, this step ensures that you’ll never have to take a qualifying survey, which makes this kind of a benefit
What Do Members Say About Consumer Opinion Institute?
The reviews of Consumer Opinion Institute, for the most part, are pretty good. Most negative reviews surrounding the company stem from the fact that it’s somewhat exclusive in its registration process.
In other words, people are mad that they can’t get in and start making money.
However, reviews from real panel members are mostly positive. In fact, this Reddit thread shows a few people who have happily received their surveys and money in the mail, as promised, from Consumer Opinion Institute.
Members seem to love that the panel sends their money (usually, a $5 payment) along with the survey. At least no one can say that they don’t pay!
On the other hand, some have mentioned that the surveys they get through the mail are very long – much longer than the 10 to 20 minutes that the website states.
I read a note from one member that said they had over 1,000 responses on one survey to fill out by hand and that the $5 payment was definitely not worth it.
How Else Can I Earn with Consumer Opinion Institute?
Consumer Opinion Institute is one of the few survey panels that doesn’t have other opportunities when it comes to making money. There are no other paid tasks, or even a referral program, to earn money from, so you’ll be solely taking surveys to earn cash here.
On the one hand, it makes the panel a streamlined place for people who are only interested in taking surveys. Plus, you know the people who are there are genuinely interested in taking surveys since there are no other incentives for being a panel member.
However, if you like websites that give you several avenues for making money, then this panel may not be the best opportunity for you.
The only other way to potentially make money here is through the quarterly sweepstakes. They pay out $500 each to two panel members.
Notable Consumer Opinion Institute Features
This survey panel really is different than others, and there are a few features that make it stand out:
The Consumer Opinion Institute closes and opens registrations as it sees fit.
The problem with open sign-ups that most survey panels have is that it restricts survey opportunities for members because everyone will be clamoring to complete a survey and only a select few can complete them.
The semi-exclusive registration feature of Consumer Opinion Institute gives more members a chance to earn money from completing the panel’s surveys.
You won’t have to compete with thousands of other members to nab a spot in a survey because the panel only allows a certain number of members at a time and opens it up for new members when needed.
You Don’t Need to Spend Time Qualifying for Surveys
If there’s one complaint most people have about online survey panels, it’s that they have to spend several minutes qualifying for a survey before they take it.
Sometimes, 15 minutes or more of qualifying questions results in you not even qualifying for the survey. Unfortunately, panels don’t usually pay you for that time.
Consumer Opinion Institute does it differently. They send you several screening questions when you sign up. That way, all the details they need to know are in their system.
This way, they can match you with surveys without wasting your time with long qualifiers.
That means that you’ll need to spend a little time after registration filling out the preliminary questionnaire. After that, though, you’ll only get matched with surveys that you are a good match for.
Get Your Money for a Survey Even Before You Take It
One of the biggest benefits of this survey panel is that it pays you at the same time it sends you a survey by mail! You’ll receive a check for the value of the survey along with the survey the panel sends by snail mail.
There’s no obligation to take that survey. Consumer Opinion Institute states in its FAQ section that if you don’t take the survey, it will “catch up with you on the next one”.
That means that it won’t pay you for another until you take one. It doesn’t specifically say that you can keep turning down surveys, but I’d assume that if you do it a few times, they might give your spot on the panel to someone else.
Still, it’s nice to know that your check is waiting for you before you even complete a survey, unlike other panels that can take days to weeks to credit your earnings to your account.
How Does Consumer Opinion Institute Pay?
You’ll get a check from Consumer Opinion Institute along with a survey that the panel sends through the mail. The panel doesn’t even state that you have to take the survey to cash the check.
However, if you choose not to take that survey and cash the check anyway, you won’t receive a payment for the next one until you catch up.
The panel does also send some online survey invitations (the FAQ section states that you could get one once per month, on average). But, it’s not clear how it pays for these.
From what I can tell from my research, it seems that Consumer Opinion Institute will also pay you with a check for online surveys once you complete them.
The good part about the payment system is that you won’t have to wait months to meet a minimum payout amount to receive your money. You get paid before you take a mailed survey and you should expect your check soon after an online survey.
How Much Money Can I Make with Consumer Opinion Institute?
Like most survey panels, you shouldn’t expect mounds of cash from this panel. However, the money is reliable and relatively consistent for a survey panel. Therefore, it could be a good option for you if you want a steady flow of rewards.
Still, you won’t make much every month. Most people will receive up to two mailed surveys and one online survey per month. The rewards will range between $1 and $5, although most people say that they get paid $5 for their surveys.
Let’s assume you get paid $5 for three surveys a month. That’s only $15, but it’s still $15 more than you had before. However, you may spend an hour or so on a paper survey only to make $5.
This is where you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons for yourself. It’s easy money, but it can still be time-consuming.
Is Consumer Opinion Institute Legit or a Scam?
The Consumer Opinion Institute is 100% legitimate. I’ve read blurbs from several panel members who have said that they’ve had no problem getting paid.
In fact, the way that the panel pays members at the same time they send mailed surveys makes it a popular choice.
I also like that Consumer Opinion Institute is semi-exclusive. Not only does it mean that you’ll have more opportunities to take surveys when you become a member, but it also means that the panel cares about maintaining its integrity and finding the perfect panel members for its research.
The only issue I see with this panel is that I can’t find any clear proof that the quarterly sweepstakes it claims to host are a real thing.
On its website, it states that two members will win $500 every quarter. However, I haven’t been able to confirm this through my research. All I can say is not to get your hopes up for winning the sweepstakes.
How Can I Sign Up for Consumer Opinion Institute?
You’ll have to wait until registration opens to become a member of the Consumer Opinion Institute. When it’s ready for new members, you’ll see a link to the registration page on the main page.
If registration closes, you’ll only see information about the panel with no registration link. If that’s the case, I recommend checking back once a week. The periods it opens just depend on the panel’s needs at the time.
Once the panel approves you, you’ll need to take a screening survey to finalize yourself as a member. You’ll receive an invite to the survey.
Consumer Opinion Institute won’t pay you for this one. However, it will save you from ever having to qualify for a survey in the future. You also won’t be eligible for future surveys until you complete it.
I know that Consumer Opinion Institute won’t be the right panel for everyone. Some people don’t want to complete mailed surveys or deal with a panel that only opens randomly through the year.
If this panel doesn’t seem like a good option for you, then here are some other favorites of ours that might better suit you:
As always, we want to hear from you! Are you a member of Consumer Opinion Institute? If so, feel free to leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts.