by Kate Safin, Marketing & Member Services Manager

In January and February 2019, the East End Food Co-op (EEFC) worked with the Survey Research Center (SRC) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls to conduct an online survey of Co-op members adapted from the National Co-op Grocers (NCG) Shopper Satisfaction Survey. We conduct this survey every other year to help us better understand member needs and satisfaction levels. This was EEFC’s fourth survey with SRC; the longevity of our partnership with SRC provides the EEFC with long-term data specific to our store. The results also include benchmarking against peer co-ops across the country.

We want to extend our deepest appreciation to those Co-op members who took the time to give us honest feedback through this survey. The SRC sent an invitation to 3,705 members for whom email addresses were deliverable; a total of 795 usable responses (21% of invitees) were received in the data gathering period producing estimates that are accurate to within +/- 3.3% with 95% confidence.

Survey Results
At least 8 of 10 respondents said that their needs were met well or very well with respect to the availability of natural/organic foods, store hours and cleanliness, product quality/freshness, and friendly and knowledgeable staff. Compared to other food cooperatives, East End Food Co-op is much above average with respect to meeting customer satisfaction “very well” in the category of natural/organic foods availability, but continues to rank below national database averages for location/convenience, atmosphere, cleanliness, and hours. And while we are meeting a majority of people’s needs well or very well, most areas of satisfaction are in decline or stagnant from previous years’ surveys.

We also rank lower than national average in relation to member shopping patterns including: amount spent per week on groceries, proportion of members who identify EEFC as their primary grocery store, percent of grocery dollars spent at the Co-op, and the frequency of shopping at the Co-op.  According to EEFC members, by far, lower prices is the top factor which, if implemented, would cause them to spend more of their grocery dollars here. A more convenient location and improved product selection were the second and third factor, respectively, that would cause members to spend more at the Co-op. These same three factors (in the same order) were also the top factors in 2017. Of the many alternative grocery store options in our region, none presents itself as a primary competitor to the Co-op; rather shoppers tend to visit multiple stores relatively equally to meet their needs.

The feedback categories with the largest number of open-ended comments from members pertained to products, location/convenience, and positive sentiments about the Co-op. There were also 103 open-ended comments specific to parking issues. Co-op members continue to rank supporting local agriculture as the most important issue for the Co-op to focus on (81%), followed by support/improve environment (52%), and support fair labor practice (36%).

Finally, we conducted an optional communication module to understand members’ most preferred means of getting information from East End Food Co-op. Most members prefer email and report they are are overwhelmingly satisfied with both the content and frequency of EEFC’s communication.

The results of this survey are incredibly meaningful to us as we work on developing new strategic plans and evaluate the ability for the East End Food Co-op to meet member needs in its current location. We are always listening to member feedback and adapting where we can, but this survey will be an important piece of our toolkit as we make plans for the future. Thank you again for your constant support of your community store. We are here to serve you!

Report data and summaries provided by Shelly Hadley and David Trechter of Survey Research Center (SRC) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.