Retail Mystery Shopping and Customer Experience Research Case Studies

Coupon Compliance: Are Independent Retailers Accepting Your Coupons for a Competitor’s Brand?

Confero often works within tough parameters to get clients the critical brand information they need, and to get it to them quickly. Often times, our client’s own project and reputation are on the line. This is usually the case for projects involving marketing and advertising agencies. Timelines are short, requirements are strict and significant advertising budgets are riding on the results.

As an example, a manufacturing company wanted to learn if stores were accepting their coupon for a discount on a competing brand. If stores were doing this, it would mean that the company was spending considerable dollars to print and distribute coupons which customers were not even using to purchase their product.

To accomplish the project goals, the client engaged Confero to mystery shop roughly 900 convenience stores to test compliance with coupon requirements. Mystery shoppers visited a mix of stores evenly represented by store type, size and type of market (rural vs. urban). Confero’s kitting and fulfillment services allowed the project to include shipments of specific coupon print lots to mystery shoppers who attempted to use those coupons on incorrect products at stores.

Confero completed the mystery shop audits, meeting the specific requirements, and delivered this critical information to the client, on time.

It took us just 24 days from the date of our client’s initial inquiry until the day the final report was delivered. This vital information, delivered quickly, allowed our client to determine whether wave two of the coupon campaign would be feasible and would produce the expected ROI for their own client.

Audit a National Retail Reset: 2000 stores, 2 days notice, 3 days to complete

Sometimes, you need to know quickly if something is not going well. Our marketing agency client was responsible for monitoring the merger of two national consumer electronics brands and orchestrating the accompanying national resets of the re-branded, merged products. No small task. Confero was engaged to conduct audits to ensure that electronics stores were displaying a correct point of purchase materials associated with the merged, re-branded products in advance of a national advertising campaign..

Confero engaged field auditors to telephone audit over 2,000 stores located throughout the U.S within a 3 day time period. The auditors spoke with the managers and asked if the store had received and placed the required materials in end cap displays. They also asked if the stores received related promotional gift cards. For quality assurance purposes, Confero recorded the calls and listened to them prior to releasing the results to the client. Stores with deficiencies of POP inventory or those experiencing delays or missing parts were reported to the client immediately. Confero collected, reported and conveyed the information on all locations on time, and our client was able to deliver missing materials quickly and within the promotional time frame.

This entire project, start to finish, took 5 days.

No Discounting Allowed

A leading jewelry brand was concerned that its pricing and display requirements at retail stores were not being met. As a leading premium brand, it was extremely important that its pricing guidelines be met and that the product never be discounted. Confero was asked to send mystery shoppers to specific jewelry stores to assess product placement and to ensure that the products were not being discounted during the sales process. Results are used to renegotiate relationships with jewelry store chains and to determine which firms will be allowed to sell the product.

Grocery Store Checkout Times

A regional grocery store chain was concerned about what factors were contributing to longer than normal checkout times. While their service was excellent, there was no measure of the extraneous factors that contributed to longer checkout time, nor was any anecdotal information being collected about these factors. Confero assisted with the development of a series of mystery shopper survey questions specifically designed to elicit wait time increments and observations from shoppers. The results over the next six months provided management with key baseline information as well as the key factors that were negatively impacting the checkout times.

Alcohol and Tobacco Sales: Compliance with ID Laws

A leading convenience store chain approached Confero about alcohol and tobacco compliance issues. To ensure compliance with all laws, the chain wanted Confero to send shoppers under age 30 to its units to buy alcohol and tobacco products. Confero recruited shoppers within the age range and dispatched them to specific locations to attempt these purchases. Shoppers who were asked for ID gave the employees a pre-printed note of thanks. Those who did not ask for ID were presented with materials on how to perform better next time. The result is that more of this client’s stores remain in legal compliance than before and the public good has been served.