The concept of market segmentation in the floral market has become widely accepted, and a substantial body of research has investigated the characteristics of consumer behavior in several different segments of the market. Robertson and Hahn (1978), for example, examined the demand structure and price elasticity of potted chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium) purchases in the market segment of supermarket shoppers; Behe et al. (1992a, b) identified 34 factors in product, consumer, store, and use that influence flower purchases in supermarkets. Behe and Wolnick (1991a) compared behavioral differences among floral consumers segmented on the basis of flower retail outlets and purchase volume. Behe and Wolnick (1991b) also determined that demographic characteristics and floral knowledge differed significantly between fresh flower purchasers and flowering plant purchasers. Although consumer characteristics of many important segments of the floral market have been studied, very little has been learned about different market segments with respect to the intended use of purchased flowers.
Purchase intention influences consumer consumption of flowers. Personal use (e.g., purchases for ceremonies, celebrations, home or office decoration, spiritual uplifting) and gift giving are the two most prevalent purchase intentions in the floral market. This is exemplified in the following empirical market reports: In Japan, the gift and commercial sectors account for an impressive 80% of cut flower consumption, whereas the household sector accounts for 20% (Kim et al., 1999). In Korea, 60% of cut flower consumption is for ceremonial or celebratory purposes, 20% for cut flower arrangement instruction, 10% for home use, and 10% for office use, whereas 60% of potted plant consumption is for gifts, 30% for office or firm decoration, and ≈10% is for home use (Kim et al., 1999). A floral market study by Baourakis et al. (2000) also found that floral products are mostly purchased as gifts, or home or office decoration. Huang (2005) has recently shown that the use of flowers on a daily basis or as gifts puts consumers into the category of heavy flower users. Evidently, personal use and gift giving are the two main motivating forces behind flower purchasing. Thus, to improve the efficiency of marketing strategies in the floral market, behavioral characteristics associated with personal use and gift purchases need to be identified.
Some studies have identified the potential impact of intended use on floral consumer behavior. For example, an Australian consumer survey indicated that consumers with different purchase intentions, regardless of whether they were for home decoration, displayed different emotional values in their flower purchases (Oppenheim, 2000). A qualitative research study based on consumer interviews found that the intended use of flower purchases—namely, personal use or gift giving—influenced the frame of criteria consumers used for selecting their purchase alternatives. When consumers purchased cut flowers for personal use, diversity, price, and color were most highly valued (Baourakis et al., 2000). However, in that study, only emotional value and the selection criteria were compared. For this reason, further study is required to improve our understanding of behavioral differences between self users and gift users in the floral market. This study is designed to fill that void.
Consumer purchase outcome is viewed as a consequence of choice, and there is a complex decision process that determines purchase behavior and purchase outcomes (Blackwell et al., 2006; Engel et al., 1979). Consequently, consumer actions in the decision-making process and the influence of consumers’ actions on the process are the structural framework for a consumer behavior study. Many widely used theoretical models are available to illustrate the consumer decision-making process, like the Nicosia, Howard–Sheth, and Engel–Blackwell–Miniard (EBM) models (Blackwell et al., 2006; Howard and Sheth, 1969; Nicosia, 1966). These models all use the consumer decision process approach to interpret consumer behavior.
Because the EBM model, renamed from the well-known Engel–Kollat–Blackwell (or EKB) model, has the most advanced information in defining consumer behavior, and its analytical units are clearly clarified, it has become one of the most popular theoretical models for contemporary researchers to gain insight into consumer behavior (Blackwell et al., 2006; Engel et al., 1979; Rau and Samiee, 1981). The conceptualization of the EBM model has frequently been applied to investigate consumer behavior associated with various products, including general tangible goods, financial services, education, and products on the Internet (Harrison, 2003; Krepapa et al., 2003; Stiber, 2000, 2001).
The EBM model provides the current study with a theoretical base for examining behavioral differences in the prepurchase stages of consumers’ flower purchase decision process between self use and gift use purchasers. The model divides the consumer decision process into seven stages: need recognition, search for information, prepurchase evaluation of alternatives, purchase, consumption, postconsumption evaluation, and divestment. Clearly, each stage involves certain distinct acts. The need recognition stage is characterized by purchase motivation, and the factors that trigger consumer purchase motivation are of concern when studying the characteristics of consumer behavior during this stage. During the second stage, the search for information stage, consumers look for information to help them with their purchase decisions. The sources of information used to arrive at a decision and the relative influence of the different sources are the major concerns here. After an information search, consumers are likely to find different alternatives. Therefore, the criteria that consumers use to weigh the alternatives become the main issues for understanding consumer behavior in the third stage of the consumer decision process (i.e., the stage of prepurchase evaluation of alternatives). After consideration, consumers select from among the alternatives in the purchase stage. The consumption, postconsumption evaluation, and divestment stages mainly indicate the postpurchase behavior of consumers, and this includes consumer satisfaction after the purchase decision.
Even though the EBM model divides the consumer decision process into seven stages, the objectives of the current study are achieved by investigating behavioral differences between self users and gift users during prepurchase stages with regard to search for information, prepurchase evaluation of alternatives, and purchase. Because this study uses purchase motivation during the need recognition stage to categorize the sample consumers as self users or gift users of flowers, and because behavior during the consumption, postconsumption evaluation, and divestment stages is usually viewed as the subject of postpurchase behavior, this study does not investigate behavioral differences in the need recognition, consumption, postconsumption evaluation, and divestment stages. This study uses the terms “self users” and “gift users” to distinguish between consumers who mainly purchase flowers for personal use and those who mainly purchase flowers as gifts.
To identify the main behavioral differences in prepurchase processes between self users and gift users of flowers, three objectives are central to this study. They are to identify differences between self users and gift users 1) in the information sources used in the search for information stage, 2) in the frame of criteria used in the prepurchase evaluation of alternatives stage, and 3) in the retail channel choice and the criteria for store choice in the purchase stage.
BeheB.K.NelsonR.BartonS.HallC.SafleyC.D.TurnerS.1999Consumer preferences for geranium flower color, leaf variegation, and priceHortScience34740742
BeheB.K.WolnickD.J.1991aMarket segmentation of Pennsylvania floral consumers by purchase volume and primary retail outletHortScience2613281331
BeheB.K.WolnickD.J.1991bType of floral product purchased and demographic characteristics and floral knowledge of consumersHortScience26414416
KelleyK.M.BeheB.K.BiernbaumJ.A.PoffK.L.2001Consumer preference for edible-flower color, container size, and priceHortScience36801804
KrepapaA.BerthonP.PittL.CaruanaA.2003Industrial marketing and the Internet: Frameworks for assessing communicationJ. Asia Pacific Mktg.2121
StiberG.2000Characterizing the decision process leading to enrollment in doctoral programs: Theory, application, and practiceJ. Mktg. Higher Educ.101326
StiberG.2001Characterizing the decision process leading to enrollment in master's programs: Further application of the enrollment process modelJ. Mktg. Higher Educ.1191107