Slower sales growth in the Green Industry may be an indication that a market has matured, bringing increased competition among companies for consumers’ dollars (Hodges et al., 2009). An influx of brands is likely to occur in mature industries in an effort to differentiate products from competitors and enhance the perceived product value (Kotler and Keller, 2009). Branding helps to create the perception of added value and distinguish a company’s products from competitors’ products. Differentiation and enhancing perceived value through branding may be successful actions for a company striving to increase sales in a mature market. In horticulture, anecdotal evidence suggests that plant branding appears to be increasing.
With >70% of all buying decisions made at the point of purchase (POP), marketers have increased their in-store marketing budgets (e.g., signs, logos, and brands) from ≈3% in 2004 to ≈8% in 2010 (Ståhlberg and Maila, 2012). Marketers use brands at the POP to facilitate consumers’ buying decisions. In the marketing literature, research findings support the notion that consumers first identify necessary information before they cognitively process it, then they arrive at a purchase decision (Lin and Chen, 2006; Olson and Jacoby, 1972). Some of the information used in the purchase decision includes brands. Therefore, it may be important for academics and practitioners to know which pieces of information at the POP, especially regarding plant brands, influence consumers in their purchase decisions.
Bisson et al. (2002) said, “The challenge to wine producers in this new century is daunting—to understand the fundamental motivation behind consumer choice and to produce wines of enhanced attractiveness while simultaneously developing and implementing sustainable production practices for both grape growing and wine making.” With an abundance of choices in wines, capturing attention among the plethora of choices is a challenge. Pictorial and text branding are both prevalent in that industry, e.g., in the $54 billion industry (Mintel, 2014), where consumers most often make their purchase decision at the point of sale (Chaney, 2000) brand logos often depict images of animals and plants that have nothing to do with the wine. The wine marketers’ efforts to attract attention are due, in part, to the vast number of product choices in stores, which can be overwhelming for any consumer. Thus, their actions are focused primarily on attracting consumers’ attention, but how does capturing consumers’ attention influence purchase intention? Given the overwhelming choices in the horticulture industry, could the focus on grabbing attention influence sales? If wine marketers use animals on their labels, would that strategy be effective for plants in capturing attention? Could a fictitious brand (with a unicorn) act in the same manner as a nationally recognized brand to gain consumers’ attention and influence their purchase motivations? While there have been a few studies on plant brands (Behe et al., 2016; Collart et al., 2010), industry and academia need more information regarding the impact that brands have on consumer perceptions or intentions to purchase plants.
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