Production and marketing of ornamental plants are becoming increasingly important components of the U.S. agricultural sector. With a diverse set of retailers marketing floral products, competition is intensifying while channels of distribution are changing. Despite the growth of the ornamental plant market, the competition between traditional freestanding floral outlets (TR) such as garden centers and florists; general retail (GR) outlets, including supermarkets and department stores that sell floral products; box stores (BS) such as mass merchandisers and club centers; and direct-to-consumers (DC) outlets including Internet and telephone is becoming more intense. Other retail stores (OS) not characterized here such as street venders and farmer's markets are also marketing floral products.
Consumers choose different retail venues as a result of their own preferences and habits relative to the attributes of the retail venues, including available products and services. A better understanding of consumers' purchasing patterns and behavior and those key factors that affect consumers' choice can help retailers increase their sales in market share or price per transaction.
Some literature on consumers' preference for service and products related to landscape retailing at state and regional levels has been published. At the regional level, Brand and Leonard (2001) studied consumers' preference of plant attributes and choices between independent garden centers and mass merchandisers in New England. Behe and Barton (2000) investigated consumer perceptions of product and quality attributes of a variety of garden centers in six U.S. states (Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas). Barton et al. (1998) published a review of the research related to consumers' preference in the nursery and landscape industry. Studies related to landscape retailing have been conducted in different states, including New Jersey (Baker, 1965), Arizona (Niemiera et al., 1992), California (Stamen et al., 1990), Kansas (Khatamian and Stevens, 1994), Georgia (Day, 1994), and North Carolina (Safley and Wohlgenant, 1995). Behe and Wolnick (1991) found that supermarket floral purchasers also infrequently made purchases from traditional retail florists; the consumer segments were discrete but overlapped somewhat. However, there is little insight on a national level with regard to consumer choice of floral retail outlets. This research is of great importance, because it helps fill this gap in the literature. In addition, this article differs from previous studies because it investigates multiple outlets to capture consumers' purchases in greater detail. There is also a longitudinal component, because panel data also allowed us to examine consumers' choice over time from 1992 to 2005.
Barton, S.S., Brooker, J.R., Hall, C.R. & Turner, S.C. 1998 Review of customer preference research in the nursery and landscape industry J. Environ. Hort. 16 118 124
Behe, B. & Barton, S. 2000 Consumer perceptions of product and service quality attributes in six U.S. states J. Environ. Hort. 18 71 78
Behe, B.K. & Wolnick, D.J. 1991 Market segmentation of Pennsylvania floral consumers by volume and primary retail outlet HortScience 26 1328 1331
Huang, L.C. 2007 Behavioral differences in prepurchase processes between purchasers of flowers for self use and for gift use HortTechnology 17 183 190