Market Force Acquires Tell Us About Us

Boulder, Colorado-based Market Force Information has acquired Winnipeg-based Tell Us About Us (TUAU), Canada’s largest customer intelligence solution provider. This is Market Force’s fourth acquisition since 2005. Market Force claims to be the largest mystery shopping company in the world and one of the largest price audit and analytics firms in North America. TUAU is also a leading customer intelligence company that provides a range of customer feedback solutions. Both companies provide services to many national and international brands.
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A New Era of Mystery Shopping

Guest post by Jeff Hall, CEO, Second To None

The recession that began in 2007 has affected the mystery shopping industry. Not long ago, traditional shopping assignments were abundant, requirements were straight forward and payments were generous.

What a difference a few years make.

Many retail and restaurant operators have experienced measurable declines in revenue, as a rising unemployment rate and general economic anxiety have forced consumers to tightly manage spending habits. As brands have struggled with losses, many have reconsidered the resources allocated to market research and within this environment, mystery shopping.

This era has also ushered in a new corporate mindset regarding the value of market research, with increasing emphasis on custom research projects. Our firm has witnessed a shift toward non-traditional applications of mystery shopping—the type of assignments that demand significant preparation, instore interactions and increasingly complicated cognitive and observational requirements.

Today’s economic environment has forced businesses to assess their own operational performance through increasingly complicated mystery shopping efforts. While businesses continue to recognize the value mystery shopping adds via critical business intelligence, end-user (client) expectations are becoming more sophisticated.

What impact does this have on service providers, and shoppers?
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What is Ahead for Mystery Shoppers in 2009?

predictionWe are hearing lots of doom and gloom about the economy, but what can we really expect in the coming year?

Things will get better–they always do–but it will not happen overnight.

As mystery shoppers there are two major things that will affect us.

  • First, some clients will go out of business and others will cut back on their mystery shopping programs.
  • Second, more people will be looking for ways to make extra money and will turn to mystery shopping.

Those two factors add up to more competition for fewer mystery shopper jobs.

So does that mean you should forget about mystery shopping?Continue Reading

Mystery Shop Link Settles with the FTC will pay $850,000 to settle charges of deceptive advertising and contempt brought by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, according to a press release

In March, 2007, the Federal Trade Commission shut down and charged them with deceptive advertising. Mystery Shop Link advertised on television and radio, online and in newspapers, claiming that they had many mystery shopping jobs available and that, in exchange for a $99 fee, consumers would be given enough jobs to make a part-time or full-time income as mystery shoppers.

What consumers got for their $99 was a worthless certification and job postings that they could have received for free from the mystery shopping companies who were actually offering the mystery shopper jobs.Continue Reading

Will Mystery Shopping Become Obsolete?

ivr.jpgHave you ever gotten one of those notices on your receipt to call a toll-free number and answer a few questions about your experience at a store or restaurant? Often the business “bribes” customers to participate by providing a coupon good for a discount on their next visit, or by entering them in a drawing for cash and other prizes.

Integrated Voice Response (IVR) is used by a lot of businesses, often as an add-on to their mystery shopping and other market research programs. Mystery shoppers have often wondered if IVR will put us out of business, but I do not believe it will. There is, however, something else on the horizon that causes me more concern.Continue Reading

Mystery Shopping On “Good Morning America”

“Good Morning America” recently did a story on mystery shopping. They followed shopper Tammy Turner as she shopped, and interviewed Turner and Game Film Consultants president, Renee deSantis.

ABC presented a positive and realistic view of mystery shopping. They showed what shoppers really do (although they focused on the shop, not doing the report later) and said that shoppers can make $100 or so a week. Of course, it is possible to make much more than $100 a week, but it is not likely that new shoppers will make that much.

What did you think of the story? If you missed it, you can see it here.

Market Force Information Acquires Certified Marketing Services

Market Force Information, Inc. announced that they have acquired Certified Marketing Services, Inc. (CMS), a full-service, national marketing and merchandising services organization. According to the press release from Market Force, this acquisition makes Market Force Information the only company in the industry to offer a truly full-service, integrated suite of mystery shopping, direct customer feedback, on-site merchandising and analytics services from a single provider.

So what does this mean to mystery shoppers?Continue Reading

MSPA Gold Certification Instructors

The Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) began the Gold and Silver Certification programs in 2002. From November, 2002 until late in 2006, I presented all of the Gold Certification Workshops. But in 2006, we found three really amazing new instructors who are taking certification across the country along with me.In 2007, the four of us are presenting a total of 30 workshops, from Miami to Spokane. Meet (from left to right) Karmi Anna Mattson, Chelsea Bening and Gail Witt. The selection of these three talented presenters was a long and difficult process, but in Karmi, Chelsea and Gail, we found exactly the presentation skills, mystery shopping experience and, well, that WOW! factor we were looking for.Continue Reading