Thursday, October 2, 2014
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Majority of Consumers: Thumbs Up to Co-op Businesses



An April 2012 National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA)/Consumer Federation of America (CFA) survey found more Americans think credit unions and other cooperative businesses have the best interests of their members and customers in mind more than for-profit businesses do.

The NCBA/CFA survey, administered by Opinion Research Corp International (ORC), Princeton, N.J., questioned 1,008 respondents. Based on the survey results, close to one-third of Americans (29%) identified themselves as members of a consumer cooperative.

The survey also revealed a favorable view of cooperatives in regard to their business trustworthiness and quality of service. In fact, co-ops received higher marks across the board than for-profit businesses.

Seventy-seven percent of respondents said co-ops are committed to providing the highest quality of service to their customers, compared with 64% that said that of for-profits.

Nearly 80% said co-ops could be counted on to meet their customer's needs, and 77% said co-ops offered fair, competitive prices, according to the survey. For-profit businesses had lower scores in each of those categories, receiving approval marks of 70% and 67%, respectively.

"This survey illustrates that the 29,000 cooperatives in this country offer a much-needed alternative that consumers appreciate," Liz Bailey, NCBA interim president/CEO, says.

"At a time when the entire business community is focused on demonstrating shared value and social responsibility, it's gratifying to know that Americans continue to place their trust in member-owned, democratically governed cooperative business enterprises," she adds.

Cooperatives offer a much-needed alternative that consumers appreciate.

CFA Executive Director Stephen Brobeck says his group "has long believed that cooperatives offer pro-consumer services and enhance pro-consumer competition in the marketplace."

2012 has been named the International Year of Cooperatives by the United Nations and the U.S. Senate. The theme for the year is "Cooperative Enterprises Build a Better World," and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), publisher of Home & Family Finance Resource Center, has pledged to "lead efforts to engage the credit union community in the promotion of International Year of Cooperative Activities."

CUNA is also taking part in an NCBA-led steering committee working to raise the profile of cooperatives, improve access to cooperative business, and reach out to government officials and the youth of the world to educate them on cooperative business.

The 7,400 credit unions in the United States represent the largest segment of the more than 29,000 American cooperative businesses, holding nearly $1 trillion in assets and serving more than 92 million consumers.



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