What We Learned from Hawaii Business Magazine’s 2022 Reader Survey
Most respondents say they consistently read our in-depth reports and email newsletters, and they come from a variety of backgrounds.
Last summer and fall, Hawaii Business Magazine conducted a comprehensive reader survey. My colleagues and I felt it was important to better understand who our online readers are and how they feel about our journalism, especially after we increased our digital presence during the pandemic.
We received feedback from 250 readers. Nearly 70% of respondents have been reading our stories for less than five years. When we looked at people based in-state, 32% of O‘ahu respondents and 21% on the Neighbor Islands have been reading us for more than five years.
Respondents were also asked to estimate the minutes they spend reading Hawaii Business online each month. Forty-six percent said they spend less than 30 minutes on our site each month, 30% spend 31-60 minutes, and 24% spend more than an hour. Interestingly, 66% of respondents who live outside Hawai‘i spend 30 minutes or more on our site; 50% of local respondents do that.
Our email newsletters are the most popular way that respondents (59%) learn about our stories. We produce a twice-daily summary of the state’s top local news, plus a weekly real estate newsletter. In fact, 97% of respondents told us they always read or skim through Today’s Hawai‘i News A.M. and P.M., and 76% do the same for Hawai‘i Real Estate News.
As for topics that respondents regularly read, local/Hawai‘i-focused stories took the top vote, with 96% saying they always read or skim through these articles. Other top vote-getters included in-depth articles (92%) and stories about government/politics (92%), tourism (92%), business advice (91%), and environment/sustainability (91%).
In terms of annual features, 90% of respondents said they always read or skim our Best Places to Work list and our Best of Small Business awards. Other popular features included our Top 250 Companies (88%), Most Profitable Companies (87%) and Most Charitable Companies (86%) lists.
We asked respondents to tell us if there were any special reporting projects or coverage that has been notable. Our November 2021 report on Honolulu’s rail and 2016 report on Red Hill fuel leaks were the most commonly mentioned. This is likely because Red Hill fuel leaks and defueling efforts, plus updates on Honolulu’s most expensive public works project, were often in the news during the survey period. Nonetheless, it shows that our in-depth reports continue to be informative to readers years later.
We also asked readers to tell us if there are other topics they want to read more about. Forty percent said they would like to see more entrepreneurial advice stories, 38% want more success stories, and 37% want more timely and current events.
In addition to people’s preferences about topics covered, the reader survey gave us insights into our online readers. Forty percent of respondents live on O‘ahu, 34% on the Neighbor Islands, 25% on the Mainland and 1% elsewhere. Most respondents (69%) own their homes versus renters (26%) or those who live rent free (5%).
We had an almost even split in respondents’ genders: 53% identify as male and 46% as female. The typical respondent was about 41 years old. Nearly half (45%) were under the age of 35, 26% were between 35 and 49, 16% between 50 and 64, and the remaining 13% were 65 and older. In terms of ethnicity, 48% of respondents primarily identified as Caucasian, 19% as Hawaiian, 10% as Japanese and 23% as other.
The magazine has long had a highly educated audience and that was similar for online readers, with three in four respondents having some type of four-year college degree. A little over half of respondents (56%) are employed for wages, 21% are self-employed, 13% are freelancers, 5% are retired, 2% are unemployed but looking for work, and 3% report something else. Respondents work in a variety of industries, with the most popular being construction (14%), retail (11%) and finance (11%).
We asked respondents about their voting backgrounds and political affiliations. Most (79%) are registered voters, with 91% of those based in Hawai‘i being registered to vote. Two in five respondents (42%) identify as Democrats, 16% as Republican, 30% as Independent and 12% as other.
In all, the survey results told us that readers believe in the work we do. About 92% of respondents said they were very or somewhat likely to recommend us to their friends, family and coworkers, and 94% find our site to be a credible source of information. We also asked readers how satisfied they were with how we communicate our reporting processes and the impacts our stories have. About 72% said they were somewhat or very satisfied.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our reader survey. Hawaii Business Magazine aims to help readers better understand Hawai‘i, its people and issues through articles that are unique, useful, rigorously researched and fact-based. We cover the important intersections between business and community – and thanks to the information we gathered in our reader survey, we plan to keep doing this in 2023.