Farmers Market Survey Reveals High Customer Satisfaction

Farmers Market Survey Reveals High Customer Satisfaction

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Customers of farmers markets in Rockingham and Strafford Counties are highly satisfied with the quality of the products sold at their local markets, and the number of vendors participating in the markets has grown since 2005. Those are some of the findings of two recent studies of farmers markets conducted by the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture and UNH Cooperative Extension.

The findings reveal details about consumers’ preferences and behavior and provide benchmarks and insight for market managers and those considering starting a farmers market. One study polled 388 customers of 24 markets in the two counties. Another study polled the managers of 25 farmers markets in the counties.

Nada Haddad, Cooperative Extension food and agriculture field specialist, says the results provide “interesting fodder for growers and market managers, especially.”

The consumer survey:

In the survey of farmers market patrons, researchers found that the majority of customers spend between $26-50 per market visit, 77 percent travel fewer than 10 miles to their farmers market and 46 percent shop at their local farmers market once per week.

The surveys revealed that between 2005 and 2010, 85 percent of the markets either grew in the number of participating vendors or stayed the same. In addition, the studies revealed “a very high satisfaction level among farmers market customers when it comes to the quality of the products sold at their markets,” says Haddad. “Eighty-four percent said they were very satisfied in this area.”

The survey also looked at customers’ perceptions about farmers market prices. More than half said they believed the farmers market prices were higher than supermarket prices. “Nonetheless, more than 80 percent of the respondents were either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the prices,” the researchers write. “Price is not a major factor in customers’ decision to shop at these particular farmers markets.”

Other findings in the consumer survey reveal attitudes about market atmosphere and amenities as well as customers’ motivation for shopping at farmers markets. The researchers note, “The desire to support local producers appears to be the dominant reason why respondents patronized their farmers market.”

The market manager survey:

The survey of market managers revealed that between 2005 and 2010 annual sales grew for 61 percent of markets. It also showed that 85 percent of the markets relied on stall fees as the primary source of revenue, and advertising was the greatest expense for most markets. Managers also revealed which types of advertising they believe to be most effective, what types of amenities their markets offer and their goals for the coming years, among other details.  

“These results are full of interesting benchmarks for market managers,” Haddad says. “We hope they will pore over them and use them to make changes that will benefit their markets.”

Former graduate student Jewel McKenzie conducted the research. UNH associate professor of environmental and resource economics Alberto Manalo, Extension professor and specialist Michael Sciabarrasi, and Haddad were the study team.

To obtain a printed version of either report, contact Haddad at (603) 679-5616 or nada.haddad@unh.edu.

To read the full results online, go to:

http://bit.ly/1dZUTWH  (consumer report)

http://bit.ly/GDj3Lz  (market manager report)