Reader Survey Brings Praise…

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Cooperative Grocer readers responded to our recent online survey and provided interesting profiles and helpful comments. Our ratings were mostly positive, and many suggestions were made for additional topics or features. Here are the responses to key survey questions, with a few quotes and summary remarks where we asked for reader comments. A total of 203 readers responded to at least part of the survey.

Years involved with food co-ops
Less than 1 year 3.9%, 1–4 years 15.3%,
5–9 years 19.2%, 10–14 years 19.7%,
15–19 years 8.4%, 20 or more years 34.0%.
Lots of veterans!

Employed by food co-op
Yes 52.2%, no 48.3%.
Just over half are co–op staff.

If a food co-op employee, what position
General manager 50.5%, store manager 5.7%, sales department manager 3.8%, administrative department manager 23.8%, other 16.2%.
One–half are top managers.

If not a co-op employee, what is the relationship with a food co-op
Director 81.3%, consultant 2.1%, member 4.2%, shopper 3.1%, academic 1.0%, other 8.3%.
Most other readers are co-op board members.

Gender
Male 42.0%, female 58.0%.
More women than men.

Age
Younger than 25 years 2.2%, 25–34 years 11.0%, 35–44 years 24.9%, 45–54 years 31.5%, 55–64 years 27.1%, older than 65 years 3.3%.
Most readers are over 45 years old.

Years reading Cooperative Grocer
1 year 17.7%, 2 years 10.5%, 3 years 11.0%,
4 years 5.0%, 5 years 9.4%, 6–10 years 18.2%, 11–15 years 17.7%, 16–20 years 5.5%, more than 20 years 5.0%.
Long-time readers are balanced by those reading the magazine for fewer than five years.

Read print version or online version
Print only 64.1%, online only 2.2%, both 28.2%, other 5.5%.
Very few read the online version exclusively.

Reading habits with print version
Read less than 25%: 14.9%; read 25–50%: 13.8%; read 50–75%: 27.6%; read most or all 34.5%; browse/read articles of interest 27%; read classified ads 25.3%; read editorial 39.1%; other 8.0%.
Lots of readers for most pages.

How print version is distributed
Paid subscription 9.2%, copy assigned through organization 56.9%, copy shared at organization 27.6%, other 6.3%.
Co-ops and sponsors frequently provide copies.

Website suggestions
Many readers do not use the website. Several readers suggested improving the topic index with additional information (such as article author and date of publication); wider search function and navigability; and a more current and complete co-op directory.

General attributes
(1 is poor, 6 is excellent)
Writing and editing 5.1, design and visual appearance 4.9, relevance to reader’s work 5.1, usefulness to reader 4.9.
Generally high marks for Cooperative Grocer.

One reader commented, “That our entire management group does read these [C.G. articles] gives us some topics to discuss at our managers’ meetings. We also often pass along specific articles to the supervisors.”

Most readers enjoy the editorials, but a few are uncomfortable with them.

A frequent complaint pointed to the absence of the earlier version of the annual financial survey report. The annual financial report will not be returning due to the availability of current and in-depth comparative data through CoCoFiSt for subscribing co-op managers; as well as NCGA concerns over public access to competitive, proprietary data on co-op operations. See our less data-driven overview in the September–October 2007 edition.

Topic categories (1 is poor, 6 is excellent)
Editor Notes 3.91, Network News 4.30, Operating Excellence 4.95, Board of Directors 5.00, Sustainability 4.75, Sponsors and advertisers 3.42.
The contributions further inside each edition rate higher.

Suggested topics
There were many suggestions, from operational matters (especially human resources and marketing) to cross–sector cooperatives (especially credit unions and agricultural co–ops) to big picture issues and sustainability questions.

Overall satisfaction with Cooperative Grocer
(1 is poor, 6 is excellent)
Usefulness 5.0, relevance to work 5.0, source of info on natural foods industry 4.8, source of info on cooperative movement 4.1, source of info on operational best practices 4.9, source of info about co-op governance 4.8, advertisements 3.9, as a trade journal for food cooperatives 4.9, overall content 5.0, overall quality 5.1, overall satisfaction 5.1.
High marks from most readers.

Overall quality compared to seven trade and industry sources
Progressive Grocer (22% of readers) and NFM (34%) and CDS Solutions (22%) were rated as good as or better than Cooperative Grocer, but most readers (64.7%) did not rely on any other publications.
There are complementary publications for about one-third of C.G. readers.

Overall quality of information on governance compared to seven trade and industry sources
Cooperative Business Journal (19% of readers) and CDS Solutions (47%) were rated as good or better than Cooperative Grocer, while all other sources were rated not as good or not used at all.
Co-op board members have only a few publication sources.

Overall quality of information on food co-ops compared to seven trade and industry sources
CDS Solutions (31% of readers) was the only source getting high ratings, with other sources either rated not as good or not used at all.
Cooperative Grocer is rated best.

Additional comments
“I honestly don’t know what we’d do without this resource, it does more to build long-term, well-considered references and links on important topics than available through more ephemeral sources, such as CGIN or other lists. A journal has more staying power for creating meaningful conversation about critical topics among different stakeholders: board members, management, staff, and other groups such as NCGA.”
Many appreciative comments were recorded, including the magazine’s graphic design and general appearance. There also were several suggestions to improve the online directory and to have more new writers. A few readers singled out for praise the report on the Elk Grove store closing (November–December 2007 edition).

See other articles from this issue: #136 may - june - 2008