Wild Oats conducted its biannual shopper survey in January 2018. Over 600 customers shared their shopping and dining habits and provided opinions on a range of subjects. Survey participants were primarily Wild Oats member-owners, although about 20% were shoppers who do not belong to the co-op.
Many of the questions were supplied by National Co-op Grocers, which compiles survey data from participating co-ops and publishes summary information that can be used by member co-ops as benchmarks.
Overall Satisfaction Levels
The survey asked several questions to gauge general satisfaction levels with the co-op. Overall, the majority of respondents expressed strong levels of satisfaction. About four out of five (79%) rated their overall satisfaction with Wild Oats as “Extremely Satisfied” or “Satisfied,” with 81% saying they were “Likely” or “Very Likely” to recommend Wild Oats to a friend or colleague.
Health & Wellness
Almost universally (96%), co-op shoppers said they were “proactive about my health,” taking steps to lower health risks and prevent disease. Most (80%) said that they read articles and books about health and wellness. Only half agreed that they were satisfied with the results achieved through conventional medicine, with about 50% saying they use alternative or complementary healthcare providers. Just over half said that they buy store-brand wellness products and nearly everyone (94%) said they were confident in the safety of vitamins and supplements sold at Wild Oats.
Eating & Shopping Habits
In terms of eating customs and habits, the vast majority (91%) reported that members of the household regularly eat the main meal together, while a smaller majority (77%) said that they generally have time to prepare dinner from scratch. In addition, 61% said that they “usually pack a lunch for myself or family members in the morning.” Most (81%) said that they regularly shop at farmers markets, with 35% also reporting that they belonged to a CSA.
Over 30% of customers said they regularly shop for gluten-free products, a number that has grown steadily over the years. (The co-op has recently updated its gluten-free shelf signage to help identify these products.)
The survey asked shoppers to consider the impact the co-op has on the community, the environment and in their own lives.
Nearly three-quarters (73%) agreed or strongly agreed that the co-op works to create a sense of community, and 82% felt that the co-op has a positive influence on community. When asked whether the co-op can be trusted to make ethical business decision, 77% agreed or strongly agreed, while 75% concurred that the co-op is inclusive of diverse persons.
78% agreed that the co-op practices environmental stewardship, while 44% felt that Wild Oats has even helped them become a better environmental steward. Some 63% agreed with the statement that “the co-op is meaningful in my life,” and a similar number—62%—said that their decision to shop at Wild Oats is influenced by its being a co-op.
The survey asked how well customers’ needs were being met across a range of categories. In most areas, customers indicated needs were being met well or very well, with the following categories receiving the highest scores:
- Friendly staff
- Store ambiance
- Knowledgeable Staff
In two categories, Selection/Variety and Availability of Brands My Family Likes, survey participants expressed some ambivalence, with only about half saying their needs were being met. In one area (Pricing) more respondents said the store was doing poorly than doing well.
Another question asked how well shoppers’ needs were being met across a range of products. The following departments received high scores (meeting needs “Well” or “Very Well”):
On the other hand, the following product categories received relatively low scores:
- Pet Food
- Paper/Cleaning products
- Frozen Food
Barriers to increased shopping
The survey asked customers to choose and rank three changes that would lead them to do more of their shopping at Wild Oats. These were the leading factors (with weighted scores in parentheses):
- Lower Prices (197)
- Improved selection/variety (81)
- Improved reliability of products in stock (37)
- Availability of more local products (38)
- Improved quality/freshness (34)
- Availability of more organic/natural foods (29)