Mystery shoppers must follow specific guidelines on what to do during an evaluation and shop at specified locations they may not normally visit. Marketing research study participants are not given evaluation guidelines in advance.
Mystery shopping is typically more operational in nature than marketing research and is most often used for quality control, training and incentive purposes. Marketing research is used most often to determine real customer and prospect opinions, perceptions, needs, and wants.
Mystery shoppers are recruited based on specific profiles that closely match a company's real customers. Marketing research study participants are sampled at random from a qualified population to represent a larger population.
Mystery shoppers are asked to be objective and explain observations. Marketing research study participants are encouraged give their subjective opinions freely.
Michelson, M. (2003, November 1). MSPA North America. Retrieved from http://www.mysteryshop.org/news/article_pr.php?art_ID=19