The Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) is the largest professional association dedicated to mystery shopping and related forms of market research. Although membership in the MSPA is not open to shoppers, the MSPA serves shoppers in many ways. Here is what you should know about the MSPA and its role in the mystery shopping industry.
MSPA has more than 150 member companies worldwide. There are currently three chapters–North America, Europe and Asia/Pacific–with a South America chapter planned for the near future. In order to join the MSPA, companies must have been in business providing mystery shopping services for at least two years, agree to adhere to the MSPA’s Code of Professional Standards, have a reputation for conducting business in a professional manner, and provide client references.
Companies that provide services to the secret shopping industry, such as companies that provide computer systems and other services to mystery shopping companies, may apply for Associate Membership.
The MSPA provides educational and promotional opportunities to members, and they also promote the industry as a whole. For example, the MSPA conducts an active public relations campaign to inform businesses and the public about the value of mystery shopping and to educate prospective shoppers about secret shopping and avoiding scams. The MSPA has worked with law enforcement authorities to identify and prosecute those who may be running a secret shopper scam.
As a secret shopper, what does the MSPA do for you? First of all, because the MSPA establishes and maintains standards for member companies, shoppers can feel comfortable contracting with companies that belong to the MSPA. Many of the prospective mystery shoppers who contact me are confused about how to know which firms are legitimate mystery shopping companies and which are not. One simple way to spot a legitimate company is if they belong to the MSPA. There are, of course, legitimate companies that do not belong to the MSPA; however, if they are MSPA members you can be sure that they are legitimate.
The MSPA promotes education for shoppers through the http://www.mspa-na.org/certification, as well as the annual Shopper Educational Conference. Although Certification is not a requirement to become a secret shopper, many MSPA member companies give first access to shops, or other benefits, to shoppers who have completed certification. The annual conference provides an opportunity to network with other shoppers as well as representatives from many mystery shopping companies.
You will find resources for secret shoppers in the shopper area of the MSPA web site, including a forum, job board and more. Certified shoppers can also print business cards and participate in live chats in the shopper resource center.
Check out the Mystery Shopping Providers Association’s web site at http://www.MysteryShop.org/ to learn more about how the MSPA serves the mystery shopping industry.