Fresh cut flowers can be given as gifts at many different holidays and occasions. The wholesale value of domestic cut flower production was $403 million in 2008 (USDA, 2009). Still, imported cut flowers account for a greater percentage of U.S. sales; in 2003 (most recent available data), the value of imported cut flowers was $611 million, but domestic production was valued at $425 million (USDA, 2005). Flowers promote self-esteem and satisfy the need for aesthetically pleasing surroundings (Krech et al., 1969). Recent studies reinforced the premise that flowers and plants have psychological, emotional, behavioral, and environmental benefits. Haviland-Jones et al. (2005) found that flowers as gifts had positive effects on people's emotion, mood, social behavior, and even immediate and long-term memory.
Flower color is a primary product attribute for combination planters (Mason et al., 2008), edible flowers (Kelley et al., 2001, 2002), geraniums (Behe et al., 1999), and poinsettias (Redman et al., 1997). Robertson and Chatfield (1982) published some of the early consumer research that provided evidence that red flower color was preferred by men and pastel colors by women. This was especially true for roses (Hutchison and Robertson, 1979). Both men and women preferred red geraniums (Behe et al., 1999) and poinsettias (Redman et al., 1997), but there was a significant market for a hypothetical blue geranium (Behe et al., 1999).
Consumers have attributed meanings and symbolism to flower colors and they use different flower colors to convey different feelings, which somehow may guide consumers' choice of different colors of flowers at different occasions. Attributing meaning to certain flower colors may have begun in Victorian times. Traditionally, red has conveyed passionate love and affection; pink—grace, gentility, and happiness; orange—energy, enthusiasm, and warmth; purple—dignity, pride, and success; white—innocence, humility, and reverence; yellow—joy, lightheartedness, and friendship; and blue—peace, openness, and serenity (Anonymous, 2008). Doyle et al. (1994) studied how people connected six meanings with particular arrangements of flowers and found that participants reliably associated three arrangements with particular meanings. For instance, three red roses were particularly appropriate to convey the messages “I love you” and “I apologize,” but three yellow carnations and three white daisy sprays were inappropriate in conveying these messages. Birren (1940, 1972, 1988) associated different flower colors with different personalities: long-wavelength colors such as red and orange indicate extroverted personalities and short-wave colors such as blue and violet indicate introverted personalities. Red is a commonly used color at Christmas and most consumers preferred red poinsettias (Redman et al., 1997).
A better understanding of consumers' preferences for cut flower colors and their purchasing patterns and behaviors at various calendar holidays and noncalendar occasions can help retailers more effectively merchandise certain flower colors for certain events and potentially increase their sales, market share, price per transaction, or profitability. However, there is little insight with regard to consumer choices of flower colors at different calendar and noncalendar occasions. This study helps to fill this gap.
Consumers' choice of different colors is motivated by and depends on the flower receivers' (buyer's own or gift recipients') latent degree of satisfaction that is derived from the particular colors at different occasions (Greene, 2002; Yue and Behe, 2008). In theory, consumers chose the flower color that gave the giver and recipient the highest latent degree of satisfaction. Although latent satisfaction cannot be observed, flower color choice can be.
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