Mystery shopping and market research are intrinsically linked. Probably because mystery shopping was born out of a need for certain types of market research and since its conception, has been an integral part of investigating the business-customer relationship.
Because businesses needed a way to directly examine how customer experiences affected their shopping habits, mystery shopping was created as a specific type of market research tool that uses special tactics and methods for identifying this. Any type of market research is developed and implemented in order to identify or solve a problem through its methods.
This is what makes secret shopping and market research so similar and what makes mystery shopping such an integral tool among the many different types of market research.
Because secret shopping identifies problems and provides businesses with a direct line for changing customer related issues, it is a valuable market research tool. It comes as no surprise then that secret shopping as a market research tool has proven to be more and more effective over time. This is not only indicated by the growth of the industry but in the constant demand for good secret shoppers to conduct different types of market research for businesses.
Mystery shoppers conduct their shops in a variety of ways, greatly depending on the assignment that they are given. Some types of market research implemented by shoppers are very specific. For example, if a company suspects that they are losing customer satisfaction based on how customers are treated while making returns on products, a mystery shopper will be asked to conduct a purchase and return, in order to evaluate how he or she was treated during the process. Or, a company might want to see if its employees are asking certain questions to customers when they call in for an inquiry or quote. In this example, mystery shoppers wouldn’t physically enter the store, but instead make a phone shop in order to conduct their evaluation.
The specific use of a certain mystery shopping process ultimately examines something specific about that company. Yet in a broad sense, mystery shopping can be used to make general evaluations about a business like how customers are treated, whether or not they were greeted, the store’s appearance, product placement, if they were asked for help, if employees were neatly presented and a long list of others. Types of market research such as secret shopping in this way can be incredibly valuable for the business in identifying a place where their company can improve.
Some of the more common types of market research tools and techniques used by shoppers include telephone shops and in-person shops. The two main differences between these two methods are that one involves going down to a store in person to conduct an evaluation while the other can be done over the phone or even online. This is discussed in further detail in our member’s sections.
As a secret shopper, the different types of market research and the varying types of shops that you will conduct will constantly change. It is part of what makes being a secret shopper so much fun! As your assignments change so do the challenges. You might find yourself taking notes on a retail shop one week and evaluating a gym the very next. Or, you could be conducting a shop at a car dealership one day, only to be booking vacations with a travel agent the next. The different types of market research and methods will always be different, but they will always be critical to the company you work for, in identifying ways in which they can improve.