Watch out! The shopper next to you could be fake

01 Nov,2013

By Shramana Ganguly


Vidya Nayak could be shopping alongside you during the pre-Diwali rush. This 36-year-old Bengaluru housewife looks no different from the hundreds of others you rub shoulders with this season, but she’s on a mission that’s not just a sale.


The onset of this festive season and some product launches have brought to the retail floor the mystery shopper – a person paid to shop in a bid to screen brand performances, gauge trends and consumer sentiment.


“I have been checking if the promotions and pricing are presented in a correct manner to the consumer in this festive season,” says Ms Nayak, who takes time out for this assignment for Sony and LG.


Fears of a bleak Diwali have pushed brands across FMCG, apparel, consumer electronics and automotives to send in the reserve forces to fight poor sales. “Diwali will get waves of mystery shoppers,” notes Saurabh Mishra, senior manager (marketing) at Channelplay Ltd. The retail marketing company assists brands in retail intelligence, visual merchandising, loyalty programmes, et al. Mr Mishra has 400 mystery shoppers working doubly hard this season.


Ms Nayak, for instance, browses and bargains like an authentic shopper. She may or may not spend, according to her client briefing, but would check on brand performance. A luxury automotive brand could hire 40-year-old mystery shoppers, preferably a couple, while an apparel brand could have a 20-year-old do the job.


Assocham says the festive shopping spirit is lowest across Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Mumbai and Hyderabad on “expected lines, as economic recovery is rather slow and consumer confidence low”.


“Consumers are not bullish this season. Every brand will try to ensure maximum conversions against walk-ins, although less compared to last season,” notes Sanjeev Shenoy of HS Brands International. HS offers mystery shopping services, loss preventional solutions and data collection tools to retailers and brands globally.


For instance, mystery shoppers at AlphaOne saw developers Alpha G:Corp install an ‘automatic piano’ on the second floor to attract customers, triggering a 200% jump in footfall. The retail destination in Ahmedabad houses KFC, Swarovski, Tommy Hilfiger, Levis, FCUK, Timberland, Sony, HP, Samsung and Pizza Hut, among others.


“Stores on the second floor are now looking forward to converting this momentum into sales with exclusive offers and value deals,” said Alpha G:Corp executive director (marketing, corporate affairs & retail) Prodipta Sen.


With staggering sales at stake, the mystery shopper ensures that each consumer is handled in the best possible way to ensure she spends.


Source:The Economic Times

Copyright © 2013, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved

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