Floral preservatives are a mixture of ingredients added to the water of a fresh floral arrangement to increase the postharvest longevity of cut flowers and greens (Nowak and Rudnicki, 1990). Commercial floral preservatives contain a combination of compounds that provide a food source for fresh cut materials (carbohydrate) and reduce bacterial growth (antimicrobial agent) in the container’s water (McDaniel, 1996). In the consumer trade, floral preservatives are frequently referred to as “floral food.” Hydrators promote water uptake by reducing water pH via an acidifying agent (Dole and Wilkins, 2005).
Despite extensive evidence that appropriate use of floral preservatives extends postharvest longevity of most fresh flowers, their use by traditional full-service florists is variable (Coake, 2012). Given that 55% of the retail floral industry’s revenue is comprised of fresh floral arrangement sales (First Research, 2010), consumers’ beliefs and opinions about these products should be better understood.
In a study of consumer purchases of floral products in supermarkets, Behe et al. (1992a) determined that care and handling instructions and floral longevity were important product attributes for some demographic groups, such as “educated mothers.” These researchers later reported that knowledge of postharvest care for cut flowers added value to a floral arrangement (Behe et al., 1992b). Similarly, Huang (2007) found that consumers emphasized floral longevity as important in purchases of floral products for themselves. Most recently, Yue et al. (2011) reported that most survey participants agreed that they “like the idea of knowing how long to expect cut flowers to last.” Indeed, according to Gutman’s means-end model (Gutman, 1982; Oppenheim, 1996), knowledge of postharvest care for cut flowers has the potential to add value to the floral arrangement for consumers, which is pertinent for florists seeking to increase price per transaction (Yue and Behe, 2008). In addition, consumer regret manipulates repurchasing habits of horticultural products (Dennis et al., 2004), and regret can be combated when floral products are sold with a “use of preservatives” guarantee.
The objectives of this study were to determine 1) if the presence of floral preservatives or 2) if knowledge gained about the function and effectiveness of floral preservatives increases consumers’ perception of quality, purchase intention, and price of a floral arrangement.
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