Who Are Mystery Shoppers?


I first heard of mystery shopping back in the early 90’s. My grandma worked at a large retailer as a greeter, and called me one day to let me know that “secret shoppers” thought she was in her 50’s. Confused, I asked her what she was talking about, and she explained that secret shoppers came in posing as customers to evaluate the employees. I asked her how she did, and her only focus was that the shopper thought she was in her 50’s when in reality she was in her mid 70’s (she always looked younger than her true age).


I didn’t know then that a few years later I would be immersed in the world of mystery shopping. It has evolved significantly over the last decade and broken through some of the stereotypes.


The one stereotype that still exists on some level is that the mystery shopper is a stay at home mom type looking for some extra income. I will hear that from some prospective clients, especially those that are interested in B2B mystery shopping, as they believe we may not be able to utilize shoppers who mirror their typical customer.


Our company alone has over 300,000 mystery shoppers at our availability to conduct shops. Over the years, I’ve learned that they truly come from all walks of life – we have the traditional stay at home mom, college students (who better to conduct liquor and tobacco compliance shops), lawyers, small business owners, nurses, and engineers. Shoppers range in age from 18 to 85; some do the work on a part-time basis while others make this their full-time work.


Because of this, mystery shopping has been able to serve many more industries than it once used to, and has been one reason we’ve been successful in B2B mystery shopping.


Everyone knows the value of good customer service, and shoppers want to be a part of making that happen. The next time you think of the shoppers that come into your business, don’t look for what you perceive as the traditional shopper – you may be surprised at who it is!


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