How to sell more flowers is always a concern of the practitioners in the floral market, therefore, understanding the driving forces that influence consumers' choices in regard to the purchases of flowers, such as to buy or not to buy, how much to buy, or what kinds of flowers to buy, will help florists in alleviating such concerns.
Sheth et al. (1991) proposed the theory of consumption values in explaining consumer choice behavior. In the conceptualization of their theory, there are five consumption values (i.e., functional value, social value, emotional value, epistemic value, and conditional value) that influence the consumer in his or her choice of whether to buy or not to buy, what types of product to buy, and what brands to buy. Consumption values illustrate the product values or benefits that consumers want to have from the products they buy, and different product categories may deliver different consumption values to consumers. For example, Sweeney and Soutar (2001) found that the consumption values for durable goods were set in terms of emotional value, social value, quality, and price. Oppenheim (2000) used consumption value factors to identify the market segment that was most likely to purchase flowers for in-home decoration, and found that for consumers who were more likely to purchase flowers for in-home decoration, they were more likely to do so for an emotional lift, to associate flowers with seasons, and to arrange unusual flowers.
The consumer's motivation to purchase and his or her preferences regarding the purchase of flowers also imply that consumers attach value to their desire to have flowers. According to the results of previous studies, consumers buy flowers to decorate their home/office, to celebrate a special event or moment, or simply for personal enjoyment (Kim et al., 1999). There are several factors that inhibit consumers from purchasing flowers, such as the low quality of products and the short vase life (Jowkar et al., 2007). Such inhibiting factors reflect the consumers' unwanted values for the floral products.
Matsuo (2008) observed that plants have a function of healing and pleasure for human beings because humans appreciate plants with all of their five senses and combine doing physical exercise with horticultural activities. Through their successful experiences of growing plants, people share their experiences and results with family members, neighbors, and friends, and therefore satisfy their need for belonging and self-esteem. Criley (2008) claimed that human appreciation for flowers is influenced by cultural differences. Because culture is usually aesthetically based, it influences how the beauty of ornamental plants is perceived. The study outcomes of Matsuo and Criley explore the psychological value, social value, and experiential value of flowers. Due to the values associated with flowers, flowers are intensively used in human life rituals (Goody, 1993).
Even though previous studies have explored the values of flowers from different dimensions, as described above, these findings were not systematically summarized. Therefore, Yeh and Huang (2009) cited the relevant findings from previous research and converted these findings into questionnaire statements that were used as tools to measure the consumption values that consumers have for the purchases of flowers. As a result, five consumption values were extracted for the floral products, including sensory hedonics, emotional conditioning, curiosity fulfillment, monetary worth, and showing care to others. Sensory hedonics refers to the sensory joy aroused by the floral products. Emotion conditioning refers to the psychological value of flowers in conditioning consumers' minds into a pleasant, calm, and peaceful status. Curiosity fulfillment refers to the value of flowers in satisfying the consumers' need to seek variety. Monetary worth refers to the value of the flowers in terms of physical performance, such as quality and longevity, which is evaluated in terms of the price consumers are prepared to pay.
Different consumer groups may choose floral products in terms of different value aspects. For example, among the consumers in Japan, the younger generation tends to choose flowers based on first impressions, while the older generation tends to take the monetary value into consideration (Imanishi et al., 1992). In a market survey of Pennsylvania floral consumers, Behe and Wolnick (1991) found that the light users, medium users, and heavy users of flowers differ in regard to the intended use of the flowers purchased. For example, the heavy users tend to make many purchases of flowers for their personal enjoyment, while the light users of flowers tend to purchase flowers as gifts. Huang (2005) had a similar finding for the heavy users of flowers in that the heavy users of flowers have fewer negative attitudes toward flowers and tend to buy more flowers as daily essentials, as well as to buy more flowers as gifts.
Even though the context of the floral consumption values has been explored and theoretically it is said that consumption values are the driving force behind the outcomes of consumer choice (Sheth et al., 1991), the relationship between the floral consumption values and the consumer choices toward the purchases of flowers remains unknown. This study was conceived to address this deficiency. The objectives of this study were to evaluate floral consumption values across the consumer groups who had different purchase choices for flowers, such as the choice of whether to buy or not to buy flowers, how often to buy flowers, as well as what kinds of products to buy. This study evaluated the differences in the floral consumption values between the users and nonusers of flowers, the differences in floral consumption values among the light users, medium users, and heavy users of flowers, and the differences in floral consumption values among the consumer groups who prefer to buy different types of floral products, including cut flowers, potted plants, and other types of floral products.
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