Mysterious buyer - Marketing Innovation

& "Mysterious Shopper

If the object of developing innovation is a high-tech service, when investigating the needs of the client, one can not do without the mysterious buyer method. This method is also not replaceable when researching the buyer's behavior in the process of selling goods and providing services for a new high-tech product.

Mysterious buyer (mystery shopping ) is a research method that involves assessing the quality of customer service with the help of professionals acting as front-line consumers (customers, customers, etc.).

The essence of the method boils down to the fact that a specially trained agent comes to the observable organization under the guise of an ordinary buyer (visitor). They are evaluated and diagnosed by the organization according to the characteristics important to the researcher according to a specially developed legend. At the same time, he looks, listens and analyzes what is happening in the organization. If it is stipulated by a legend, it buys a new product or service. For example, the mysterious buyer buys a new service in the sphere of cellular communications. After visiting the organization (using the product, service), the agent enters his assessments in a special form (most often a questionnaire).

The mysterious buyer more correctly attributed to the complex (synthetic) methods of research. In reality, it combines elements of observation, interrogation and experiment.

There are two basic varieties of the "mysterious buyer" method. The first option assumes that the agent visits only the units of his own firm. The second option involves visits both to the units of your company and to direct competitors. In this case, the assessments that the agent presents to his firm are compared with those of the competing company.

The method is particularly suitable for retail chains of high-tech products, firms that provide high-tech services, including service for new products. The most common method is the mysterious buyer is applied in the following areas: banks, mobile operators, computer and home appliances salons, high-tech products service centers, etc.

Stages of the technology method "mysterious buyer" will look like this:

1) preparation of the program:

• Defining the tasks and objectives of the program;

• drafting of the project budget;

• development of the questionnaire;

• development of the legend (behavior patterns) of the "mysterious buyer";

• compiling a list of bypass points;

• Forming requirements for mysterious buyers & quot ;;

• Selection of mysterious buyers and conducting trainings with them;

• development of a control scheme for the work of "mysterious buyers";

• Defining the scheme for collecting and processing questionnaires;

2) carrying out the program;

3) evaluation of the results:

• processing of questionnaires;

• analysis of results;

4) development of recommendations.

Exploration using the mystery shopper method usually conducted by specialized companies, each of which has developed and is constantly improving the methodology for their conduct. Each study is a project that includes a set of goals, objectives, timelines, budgetary and other constraints.

The advantage of this method is the ability to analyze the quality of services through the eyes of the real consumer (to conduct an assessment that is close to the opinions of consumers). The results of such an assessment can reveal the market advantages and disadvantages of the company and its competitors.

The disadvantage of the method is the impossibility of completely eliminating the subjective factor in the evaluation. In order to reduce subjectivity, it is desirable that one visit is made by several agents and their estimates are averaged.

The final result of the stage consumer's voice - it is structured in the form of a hierarchy, a complete (necessary and sufficient) set of consumer needs, set out by the language of the consumer himself and weighted according to the value scale for the consumer. We will expand this definition in more detail.

1. A complete set of needs: adequate methods of collecting and processing information ensure maximum completeness of fixing needs, as well as filtering the needs of product functions and solutions to problems prompted by the consumer.

2. Structured set of needs: an inherent property of the human psyche - hierarchical structuring of information; The methods of VoC allow you to identify as much as possible the "natural" hierarchy of needs; all this makes it possible to approximate the vision of the researcher to the picture of the world of consumers, increases the accuracy of the subsequent quantification, allows to optimize the scope of work, stopping at a certain level of the hierarchy.

3. Statement by the language of the consumer himself: fixing on the household, rather than the technical language, allows to keep the essence and specific needs with minimal distortions, excludes the developers' guesses, avoids the rectilinear decisions prompted by the wordings.

4. Weighing on the scale of value for the consumer: the use of adequate quantitative research methods allows us to establish the true priorities that the consumer himself usually does not suspect.

Over the long history of QFD, users of the methodology have managed to apply almost all available tools for marketing research. It should be specially emphasized that QFD is the only approach that, in practice, overcomes the chronic gap between qualitative and quantitative research. Practically all the information about the needs, obtained during the processing of the results of qualitative research, is subject to quantification at the next stage.

As for the choice of a specific toolkit, in any project it is dictated by the inevitable compromise between costs and efficiency. The least suitable for QFD purposes is desk research and the indirect collection of information about customer needs by employees of the company. Unfortunately, a huge number of QFD projects even in Japan itself used and uses this approach. At the other end of the spectrum is testing by consumers of the prototype product or its prototype. This method gives the highest result, but even the largest companies can not always afford it. Optimal to the majority of researchers in this area are methods of in-depth interviews and group interviews (focus groups). At any opportunity, interviewing should be accompanied by ethnographic research.

The result of the research carried out at this stage will be raw material (audio and video recordings, their decoding, notes of interviewers and researchers, etc.), which needs additional processing. Very many researchers, especially corporate marketers, neglect this most important part of the work and go straight to conclusions. The QFD experience shows how much the difference between the structured approach and the processing of qualitative research data is. This processing consists of the following steps:

• decryption of records;

• All the lexical constructions that are candidates for the expression of one of the needs are selected;

• Transfer of the selected lexical constructions to the special table "the voice of the consumer";

• Exploring the table in order to reduce duplicate entries and, if necessary, change their wording;

• Extraction of true needs from the number of candidates (technical solutions and product functions imposed by the consumer are discarded).

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