Shopping in the customer’s shoes

Marketing research is largely about getting inside the heads of your customers and clients. What better way to do that than to become one yourself? “Secret shopping” is a time proven method to garner an understanding of what your target audience experiences in the selling process for your product or service. What happens when a prospective user begins their search for information? How easily can they make contact from finding that contact information to getting a timely and informed response? How do your representatives present your product, answer questions and, generally, treat a prospect? What follow up is done? And, because the secret shopper is not typically going to convert to an actual sale, what feeling do they leave the prospect with once they hear a “no?”

We recently completed a secret shopping activity on behalf of a hotel client. We visited the client hotel and two competitors in the guise of hosting an upcoming meeting at one of their properties. The experience was invaluable in our ultimate understanding of the three properties and how they compete against one another. In the end, we were able to provide our client with insight as well as ideas as to how they could enhance both the product and the marketing and sales experiences.

Secret shopping can be the ultimate test of what really happens in the field – an effective way to get to know competitors, assess the sales opportunities and test the salience of key messages.