Mystery shopping it volume products making the channel accountable

Date of publication: June 15, 1994


The paper will introduce some of the major marketing issues facing vendors of IT hardware and software. An increasingly competitive market environment is forcing such companies to consider the following key questions: What is the best mix of channels for my product? What branding strategy should I adopt? What pricing strategy will complement my brand strategy? How can determine if my company's interface with the end-user is the most appropriate? Where traditional market research can go far in answering many of these questions, IT Product Managers often find it difficult to monitor the performance of their products and brands in the market. How can they tell, for instance, if sales personnel in high street retailers are spontaneously recommending their products? How can they tell how much discounting key competitors are adopting at point of sale? How can they be sure that the channels to market consistently present their products in the best way? The mystery shopping technique allows many of these questions to be answered. Research International undertook its own telephone Mystery Shopping exercise amongst a variety of types of PC dealers. The purpose of this was to determine the relative strength of a variety of PC, software and printer brands in the market for entry-level systems. The paper will include findings from this survey (which was undertaken in the UK earlier this year). The results show the significant strength that a relatively small number of brands have built within the channels to market. The study indicates strong potential for mystery shopping in the business-to-business sector - particularly by manufacturers wishing to determine the effectiveness of channels to market in supporting their brands.

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