The definition of Mystery Shopping
Mystery shopping or a mystery consumer is a tool used externally by market research companies or watchdog organizations or internally by companies themselves to measure quality of service or compliance to regulation, or to gather specific information about products and services. The mystery consumer’s specific identity is generally not known by the establishment being evaluated. Mystery shoppers perform specific tasks such as purchasing a product, asking questions, registering complaints or behaving in a certain way, and then provide detailed reports or feedback about their experiences.
The Methods of Mystery Shopping
Mystery shopping is related to market research, but they are not the same. Mystery shopping is typically more operational in nature than market research. It is most often used for training and incentive purposes. Whereas, market research involves determining real customer and prospect opinions, perceptions, needs and wants. Under these circumstances, mystery shopping fills the information gap between operations and marketing.
Mystery shoppers are not real customers, as they know what to evaluate before entering the store. However, they may not typically visit the store they are evaluating. Mystery shopping should not be used alone to determine customer satisfaction. It can compliment but not replace traditional satisfaction research. Mystery shopping is not predictive of every customer’s experience unless sufficient samples are taken and data analyzed in aggregate.
The development of Mystery Shopping in China
It was initialed in banks and retails in the USA, At first it was used by international companies such as KFC, Nokia, Motorola, Philip and so on. In China, the first Mystery Shopping company is founded in Wenzhou. It is Wenzhou Quanjing Marketing Research Company. But the company denied to approve that they do mystery shopping. Now there are not many marketing research companies in China doing mystery shopping business. But with the development of China’s economy, they are coming soon into Chinese market. The marketing research companies doing mystery shopping include Huiyan enterprise consulting company in Zhengzhou and JCR, the premier member of MSPa.
The company Daxue Consulting focuses on mystery shopping in China. Daxue Consulting has realized a series of mystery shopping projects in the service, retail and supermarkets sectors for several companies. It realizes mystery shopping using various methodologies, such as sending a few investigators, deployment of mystery shopping in many cities, mystery phone calls in the name of a customer or a student, Qualitative interviews with vendors and customers and taking photos.