Mystery Shoppers on Luxury Brands In-Store vs. Online

In What's New, Industry News by Accessories Staff

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New York—Burberry earned top marks for its in-store and online experiences among luxury brands in a recent mystery shopper study, according to the WealthSurvey from the Luxury Institute.

Conducted by Professor Veronica Marlow of Brooklyn College, the mystery shoppers survey recruited a panel of 167 fashion marketing and merchandising students who paid some 263 visits to Manhattan store locations of Burberry, Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada. The mystery shoppers also logged another 257 visits to the same brands’ websites to evaluate design, navigation and whether they would likely prompt a purchase or recommendation to friends or family.

“In its store, Burberry succeeds at creating a friendly atmosphere, with 85% of mystery shoppers saying they felt comfortable wandering around and browsing the merchandise,” the Luxury Institute reported. “Only Gucci came close to duplicating Burberry’s success in creating a comfortable atmosphere with 67% of shoppers saying they felt at ease inside of Gucci.”

Burberry scored top marks online, too, with 77% of visitors impressed by its visual appeal and 75% citing the superior design and ease of navigation.” Louis Vuitton also ranked high on site design with 75% of visitors favorably impressed. Burberry’s website also excelled for ease of completing purchases at 85%.

Interestingly, in its 2011 Global Brand report, Intrabrand last fall specifically cited Burberry as a top riser among luxury brands. “Burberry bested them all by focusing on its core competencies in fashion, digital innovation and global expansion,” Intrabrands reported.

As to whether they’d make a purchase online in the future, Burberry tied with Gucci as 42% of visitors said they would return to make a purchase. Whereas (22%) and (24%) garnered the lowest among those who were willing to recommend the site to others.

Among the mystery shoppers others findings:

•Sales associates’ behavior and demeanor had a major effect on how “polite” a brand was viewed. About 96% said Burberry’s in-store staff was “pleasant” while only 60% said the same of Prada. Burberry and Chanel both received more than 90% on having staffs that were articulate and educated.

•Sales associates were more likely to offer assistance to shoppers at Burberry (75%) while Prada staff offered help only 55% of the time. “When you asked them a question, they quickly responded with little detail and walked away quickly,” observed one mystery shopper about Prada’s associates.

•Overall sales associates at Burberry (92%) and Louis Vuitton (91%) were seen as polite and courteous. Only 69% said the same of Prada’s staff.

•Prada, however, scored the highest on its store design with 91% applauding the aesthetics. Next was Burberry at 82% and Gucci at 75%.

“Ultimately shoppers are just as likely (42%) to make a purchase at Prada as they are to shop at Burberry in the future; 50% plan to return to Chanel. Chanel also earns the highest score (58%) for deserving a recommendation to friends or family.”

For additional information about this study and others, see

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