Five Reasons to Shop Your Own Brand


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More and more promotional dollars are being channeled towards non-traditional media. How do you make sure its money well spent?

If you’re among the growing number of marketers shifting ad dollars away from traditional media into the flashier world of experiential marketing (promotions, special events, new media and more), you might want to implement some kind of strategic assessment to make sure those dollars are pulling their weight.

Unlike television and print media, the effectiveness of which can be quantified with through relatively simple metrics, assessing the success of alternative media and promotional events is best evaluated through a strategically deployed mystery shopping program.

1. You get to experience the customer’s point of view.
Forget manager’s reports or employee assessments. The best way to ascertain the real impact of your brand is through a carefully designed mystery shop. And not just one. Objective mystery shopper reportage from staggered or repeat visits to the same store, series of stores or event(s) will create a crystal clear picture of just where your promo is working – and where it’s not.

2. You find out what’s going right.
It seems counter-intuitive to talk about measuring experience, but that’s precisely why it’s worth working with an accredited mystery shopping organization. They’ll help you establish a measurable set of evaluation criteria along with specific questions designed to create as accurate an assessment as possible. If you’re shopping a store, for example, trained mystery shoppers can monitor every aspect of the experience, from merchandising and signage to temperature, background music, even the length of time it takes to be greeted by a sales rep

3. You can test your training effectiveness.
Shopping a promotional event like a giveaway provides an excellent opportunity to test the effectiveness of your training programs at all levels – and the results may surprise you. While it’s easy to assume employees are following brand guidelines and complying with promotional guidelines, shopping your own event is really the only way to find out – and to use the results to create additional training or compliance incentives.

4. Establish a Benchmark.
The results of your brand shopping program can obviously be used to initiate very immediate improvements in promotional and brand compliance, employee behavior and training. But the same criteria and results can also be used to establish a clear set of performance and compliance benchmarks and improvement objectives against which future store shops and similar events can be measured. Likewise, data from multiple mystery shops can be used to identify trends and to establish directions for broader-scale improvements.

5. What Gets Measured Gets Done.
The bottom line reason for shopping your brand is simple. Quantifying measurable criteria creates a platform for implementing measurable results. If you know exactly which areas need improvement (and which areas are working), you can implement specifically targeted training and incentive programs – and, of course, ensure that your promotional dollars really are generating value.

David Rich
ICC/Decision Services
David Rich is President and CEO of ICC/Decision Services, a company committed to the customer experience. David has been cited in numerous publications including Smart Money and Fortune. David is a past president of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association and an active member of National Association of Retail Marketing Services.


  1. All good points – and I like how you mention that “it seems counter-intuitive to talk about measuring experience”.

    We’ve recently started a project here in China where we are not only mystery shopping to measure experience – but also to measure “customer engagement”.

    The project is related to sales rather than a standard store visit, but nevertheless it’s proved an interesting challenge to successfully meld the objective with the necessarily subjective in order to measure what’s ultimately an emotional feeling. (Our solution has been to record both and to compare at stages of the selling process).

    Ed Dean, JETT customer experience


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