From a press release today:
Speedmark Information Services is pleased to announce the merger with SG Marketing Group effective January 1, 2006.
“In order to increase our commitment to the mystery shopping segment of our business,” commented Scott Hiller, President of Speedmark, “we wanted to add more depth of experience in the financial services sector. So this alignment makes perfect sense. Speedmark is a well known quality provider of mystery shopping and merchandising services, primarily in the food services, convenience store and the banking sectors, while SG provides “level above” quality Mystery Shopping primarily in the financial services sector.”
So, what does this mean for shoppers? SG Marketing president Susan Seiler sent an email to SG Marketing shoppers today that includes the following:
SG Marketing Group will operate as a Division of Speedmark Information Services. Our “Level Above” system will remain, and you will continue to use the http:///www.sgmarketing.com website just as before. The current management team and employees will remain, and our offices in Arnold will run just like always.
We are thrilled at the opportunity to join forces with Speedmark and have spent several months making sure that the transaction goes smoothly. All of us at SG look forward to continuing to work with you just as before! Look for public announcements on both websites soon.
In my (Cathy’s) opinion, this is a good development for shoppers. Both Speedmark and SG Marketing are great companies to work for. By joining forces, they can better serve new and existing clients. As they become more successful, we will have more opportunities, too.
Over the last few years there have been a number of changes in how mystery shopping companies do business. The International Mystery Shopping Alliance is a group of companies that have banded together to serve clients with locations around the world. We have seen several consolidations as mystery shopping companies have merged or acquired other companies.
As the industry continues to evolve, I believe that most growth will come in two areas: big companies will get bigger and small, “boutique” companies will fill the niches that are too small or too different for the big companies to serve cost effectively. Large companies have the capabilities and economies of scale to provide services to other large companies. Smaller clients, or those with specialized needs, will turn to the smaller boutique companies to provide the customized services they require.
This development is certainly not unique to mystery shopping. We have seen it in the publishing industry. As the largest publishers have merged and acquired mid-sized companies, thousands of small presses have sprung up to serve niches that are not profitable for the big guys. This is not a bad development, it is just a natural business evolution.
Watch for more mergers and acquisitions in the mystery shopping industry. When the companies involved are quality organizations like Speedmark and SG Marketing, the result can only be good for those companies, their clients, and shoppers.