2021 Owner Satisfaction Survey Results

Feb 16, 2022 | Coop Board, ownership, updates

You are amazing!

Belfast Co-op Owners,

You spoke up and you’ve been heard! This past fall, 797 owners completed the University of Wisconsin triennial national survey of grocery co-ops. We received more feedback than any other survey and our response was better than the national average!

As a community, you are clearly engaged and paying attention to our mission. As individuals, you were insightful and direct. What matters to you, matters to all of us – our great Co-op community.

You have provided our General Manager and our Board of Directors a firm footing on which to continue to build our strategic direction. Your answers to questions and your many comments will be a source of rich reserves for tailoring operations to meet the needs and aspirations of our community in the years ahead.

In cooperation,
Your Co-op’s Board of Directors

Questions may be sent to: info@belfast.coop

Thank you again for sharing your feedback and continuing to support our community-owned Co-op! See you in the aisles!

Here are some of the survey’s details:

In the fall of 2021, the University of Wisconsin River Falls Survey Research Center (SRC) conducted its triennial customer satisfaction survey of co-op grocery shoppers across the country.

The SRC invited the 2,121 Belfast Co-op owners for whom we had addresses to participate. A total of 797 people completed the survey, a robust 38% response rate. Based on our total number of owners (currently over 4,600), the estimates from the panel survey are accurate to within plus or minus 3.1% with 95% confidence.

Key findings:

•Sticker shock is a nearly universal concern for food cooperatives, including Belfast, but there was significantly more satisfaction with prices in 2021 than in the 2018 survey.

•There was also a significant improvement from 2018 to 2021 in satisfaction with customer service, friendliness, and staff knowledge.

•Eight in ten or more respondents said their needs were met well or very well by having a clean store with a good atmosphere/ambiance, a handy location, and offering quality/fresh products, generally, and natural/organic products.

•Room for improvement was indicated in coffee/tea, bulk, bread/bakery, deli, and meat/fish departments.

•While Belfast shoppers tend to have larger than average grocery budgets and patronize the store with greater frequency than at the average food co-op, there were relatively few significant differences in overall satisfaction across market segments (older vs. younger, below and above-average income households, etc.). This suggests our Co-op is equitably meeting the needs of its shoppers.

Of concern, compared to other co-ops, we seem to capture a smaller share of our shoppers’ grocery budget. There is no mystery as to the primary competitor for Belfast – nearly half of the respondents identified Hannaford’s as their primary grocer. Slightly more than one-third of the respondents said Belfast is their primary grocery store.

•Of the 72 respondents who selected “Other” and specified where they spent the majority of their grocery budget, 20 said they split it among multiple grocers, 11 said they buy primarily from
farmers’ markets, CSAs, or directly from producers, and 10 said they live most of the year out of the Belfast area. A total of 13 respondents identified a different co-op (Blue Hill, Portland, Good Tern, Marsh River).

•As is true at most cooperatives, the two changes that would have the biggest impact in terms of inducing Belfast shoppers to spend more of their grocery budget at our Co-op were the availability of more lower-priced products and a better selection/variety of products.

•Our Co-op has a very high probability of receiving positive word-of-mouth from its current shoppers.

•Compared to its peers nationally, our Belfast Co-op ranks in the top 25% with respect to the store location.

In addition to the specific questions included in the Customer Satisfaction Survey, there were several open-ended questions for respondents to answer if they saw fit.

There were 843 comments! Can you believe it?!

There were some common themes that rose to the surface including an appreciation for our Co-op’s existence, a desire for our café to return, and concern over affordability.

Here are just a few comments:

•“I feel lucky to have such a good health food store that is convenient to me. I have shopped there for many years. For me, it’s more of a specialty store, in other words, if I need tissues or laundry soap, I would buy that at Hannaford. If I want grains, nuts, health products, then the Co-op. It’s also great for prepared food.”
•“It has made improvements over the last years, and I hope they continue to do so.”
•“My mother was a member of the original Co-op when it was a true co-op and members were required to volunteer. The atmosphere has changed a lot. I am grateful that we have the Co-op in our community but would like to see more of a variety of products”
•“Please don’t move out of downtown Belfast–so great that there are real shopping needs fulfilled there, including the Co-op.”
•“We always go to the Co-op when in Belfast. I find things there I rely on. Please stay where you are and keep doing things the way you do!”
•“When I considered moving to Belfast in 2015, I believed the Co-op’s thriving existence indicated there were good people in the area!”
•“You (and the whole city) are growing a lot. That brings changes that some will love and some will hate. Please remember your core values and we’ll be fine with whatever you do.”

•“You can please some of the people some of the time, but you’ll never please all the people all of the time.”


Questions may be sent to: info@belfast.coop

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