While both brand audits and mystery shops help a company or corporation expose its weaknesses and strengths, the holes in its operations and the areas that need improvement, a brand audit asks a shopper to go deeper.
As a brand auditor, you will be asked to delve into more than just the setting, cleanliness and customer-employee interaction; you will be given a checklist, which will prompt you to evaluate and analyze everything from the appearance of the logo and marketing collateral within the store to the positioning, perception and reputation of the brand out in the field to the employee interactions and knowledge to the basics of compliance rules and more. Now, that does not mean you are under qualified or that it will be too difficult for you. It simply means you will be asked to go above and beyond a typical mystery shop, while performing a brand audit.
Brand audits look further into the marketing elements, brand structure and differentiators, the brand’s personality, and position inside and outside the storefront. On the other hand, a mystery shopper is asked to look more at the topical, physical aspects. Some examples are customer service, overall environment, tidiness and sanitation of the store, and clients’ responses to their experience in general.
The following are some of the basic differences between brand audits and mystery shops:
Overt or Covert
Unlike mystery shops, brand audits can be either overt or covert. Brand auditors will usually go into the store, office, hotel, gym or restaurant and make themselves known to the employees and managers before they continue on with their audit. There is a possibility that the auditor will be undercover and equipped with microphones and video cameras just as a mystery shopper is during his or her shop.
Brand audits require auditors to look at a whole array of specific items; whereas on the other hand, mystery shoppers are asked to evaluate their experience across the board with the employees, services and atmosphere. The checklist will guide the auditor through the process, so nothing is left untouched.
Dive In Deeper
Mystery shoppers typically report on their experience, while brand auditors look at marketing strategy and budgeting, brand positioning in and out of store, the personality of the brand, what makes this brand unique and different, how the logo looks, and the particular qualities of the brand. All of these components are listed in the checklist, so auditors have no need to worry about missing some aspect of their brand audits. In addition to the marketing and positioning of the brand, brand auditors may be asked to perform compliance audits, which include age compliance in relation to the selling of tobacco and alcohol, marketing messaging compliance and fair housing compliance.
Despite the differences and the deeper level of analysis required by brand audits, together mystery shops and brand audits can help a company make necessary changes and build its strengths.