3 Alternative Market Research Options for Mystery Shopping

Perhaps the best thing about conducting market research is you are never short of options. For instance, if your team is looking for an alternative to mystery shopping, there are plenty of great methodologies to choose from.

Mystery shopping is a common market research data collection method where a secret shopper pretends to patronize a business with the intention of collecting information not readily available to the public.

This information might include pricing, rates, quality of products/services, job performance, and customer experience.

However, there are several other market research methods available that offer the same insight as mystery shopping.

In this blog post, Drive Research, a full-service market research firm, will explore three cost-effective alternatives to mystery shopping including:

  1. Intercept interviews
  2. Online surveys
  3. Shop-alongs

3 Alternative Market Research Options for Mystery Shopping

Alternative Option to Mystery Shopping #1: Intercept Surveys

Similar to mystery shopping, intercept surveys are an effective market research method for collecting immediate, on-site feedback from customers.

An intercept survey typically occurs when an interviewer approaches a person, typically a customer, and asks for their feedback after the experience has occurred.

Intercept surveys can be utilized by companies and brands across a wide range of industries. These might include:

Especially for retailers, this data collection method is great for understanding customer experience and measuring customer satisfaction because you’re able to speak with customers directly after the interaction while the experience is still fresh. 

Here are three benefits of conducting intercept surveys.

Intercept surveys can be conducted either in person or online.

Have you ever been walking around the mall and approached by an interviewer with a few questions about your experience?

Or maybe you’ve been browsing your favorite online store and suddenly you receive a pop-up, asking for your feedback.

Both of these are examples of how intercept surveys or interviews can be conducted. 

Intercept surveys offer in the moment feedback: Intercept surveys occur in real-time.

This means intercept interviews allow customers to offer their feedback while it’s still top of mind.

Learn why in-the-moment feedback is the most superior in market research.

Intercept surveys often receive high response rates.

While emailed surveys often clutter inboxes and are often scrolled past or deleted, face to face intercept surveys often receives high response rates

Alternative Option to Mystery Shopping #2: Online Surveys

Online surveys are also a cost-effective alternative to mystery shopping.

Instead of sending a secret shopper to collect information, market researchers are able to directly survey customers of your brand and other competitor brands to see how you stack up against each other. 

Online surveys are especially useful in place of mystery shopping when your company wants to: 

  • Understand brand preferences
  • Increase knowledge about customer experiences
  • Better meet customer wants and/or needs
  • Collect data on a specific demographic/segment

While mystery shopping can be more limiting in terms of data collection approaches, online surveys can be conducted through a wide range of channels. 

Commonly, online surveys are conducted using: 

Alternative Option to Mystery Shopping #3: Shop-alongs

During a shop-along market research study, a research interviewer will typically follow a customer around the store as they make purchasing decisions.

Similar to intercept interviews, shop-along market research studies allow researchers to evaluate actual shopper behavior in real-time.

Shop-along studies are extremely helpful for collecting customer opinions on: 

  • Packaging design
  • Product placement
  • Product marketing and branding
  • In-store/online customer experience

During a shop-along market research interview, researchers are able to collect information about customer opinions, thoughts, motivations, and preferences.

At the end of a shop-along market research study, your brand will be able to understand why customers gravitative towards competitors, prefer to shop from the displays rather than shelves, or are more likely to pick up your product as compared to others. 

Recently, mobile ethnography has also made it possible to “shop along” with a customer without being in-person through the use of photos and videos. 

Learn more about the benefits of mobile ethnography in this short video.

Find the Best Alternative to Mystery Shopping with Drive Research

Drive Research is a full-service market research company. Our experts can recommend and execute the best market research methodology based on your objectives, target audience, industry, and budget.

To learn more about our services, contact us today!

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

elizabeth sincavage author of market research company blog

Elizabeth Sincavage

Elizabeth has a curious mind and is never afraid to ask “why?” She discovered her passion for research and exploring data while completing her bachelor’s degree at Marist College. As a researcher, she believes you’re never truly done learning.

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Mystery Shopping Intercept Surveys Online Surveys