Demographic Differences in United States Consumers’ Perceptions and Willingness to Pay for Sustainable Environmental Practices in the Floral Industry

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Coleman L. Etheredge Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS 39759, USA

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Tina M. Waliczek Department of Agricultural Sciences, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX 78666, USA

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James DelPrince Mississippi State University Costal Research and Extension Center, Mississippi State University, Biloxi, MS 39532, USA

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Abstract

Consumers have become increasingly concerned about the environmental standards of industries from which they purchase products. Because consumers’ environmental concerns are increasingly becoming part of their purchasing decisions, industries have begun to restructure their business model to one that is more environmentally sustainable. Studies have indicated consumers’ actions and motivations for purchasing sustainable products vary based on consumer demographics. The main purpose of this study was to compare the differences in consumers’ perceptions and willingness to pay as they relate to retail floral providers’ sustainable and environmentally sound practices based on demographic traits. A total of 2172 people responded to an online survey. The sample used in this study was a random selection of individuals 18 years of age or older living in the United States. Survey responses were collected from 21 Dec 2022 to 27 Jan 2023. Data were analyzed using analyses of variance and post hoc tests as well as descriptive and frequency statistics. Results indicated there was a difference in the way respondents answered the survey questions based on demographics. Respondents 34 years of age or younger with college experience indicated the most willingness to make purchases and pay premiums from floral providers that incorporate sustainable attributes into their business model. Males indicated a stronger willingness to shop at a floral provider based on several of the environmental statements when compared with other genders. The results provide evidence of the value of the integration of sustainability practices into the business model of floral providers to make it more competitive.

Consumers have become increasingly concerned about the environmental standards of industries from which they purchase products. Because consumers’ environmental concerns are increasingly becoming part of their purchasing decisions, industries have begun to restructure their business model to one that is more environmentally sustainable (Ouvrard et al. 2020).

Because consumers have become increasingly aware of health risks and environmental degradation related to the overuse of pesticides, there has been an increase in “Organic,” “Sustainable,” and “Fair Trade” branded horticulture/floriculture products being sold in the United States and around the world (Lernoud and Willer 2017; Toumi et al. 2016). Branding has been shown to increase profit margins and help stimulate demand in a saturated market (Collart et al. 2010). Certifications of branded products can help ensure growing conditions meet or exceed legal government mandates and industry norms as they relate to environmental sustainability (Lernoud and Willer 2017; Raynolds 2012).

Studies have indicated consumers’ actions and motivations for purchasing sustainable products vary based on consumer demographics. For instance, during a study conducted by the Society of American Florists, it was found that 65% of transactions for fresh cut flowers are made by women (Society of American Florists 2016). Another study found that consumers who are typically willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products are female, married, and have at least one child living at home (Laroche et al. 2001). Additionally, it has been found consumers 36 to 50 years of age are the most likely group to proactively purchase products from environmentally friendly companies (Patel et al. 2017). However, those 30 years of age or younger are more willing to spend their income on various products and are more open to trying new products (Eghbal 2014).

Research has found that although consumers with higher annual household incomes are able to spend extra on green goods, because of a lack of trust in quality, they may not purchase sustainable goods (Nguyen et al. 2019). Research has shown that income has a more significant influence on green purchase intentions and green purchase behaviors in developing and emerging countries (Wijekoon and Sabri 2021). This could be because the percentage of disposable income spent on green products is higher in developing and emerging countries, making eco-friendly products more of a premium product than in advanced economies (Wijekoon and Sabri 2021). The same study also found that income was not the main factor when determining green purchase intentions and green purchase behaviors (Wijekoon and Sabri 2021).

During an analysis of European consumers’ purchasing preferences for flowers and plants, increasing evidence showed that consumers value a product’s origin and prefer locally grown and seasonal flowers (Gabellini and Scaramuzzi 2022). It was also noted that sustainability and transparency play an increasingly important role in consumer choice, especially among young, educated consumers (Gabellini and Scaramuzzi 2022). Past research has found that a consumer’s race was not related to actions such as using green products and recyclable bags and separating trash for recycling (Fisher et al. 2012).

A recent study that investigated United States consumers’ perceptions of sustainable environmental attributes incorporated into business models of floral providers found that a majority of those surveyed were willing to pay up to 10% more for floral designs made from a more sustainable floral provider (Etheredge et al. 2023). The same study also found that of the environmentally sustainable attributes that respondents were asked about, the use of locally sourced flowers was found to be the most influential change that a floral provider could make to increasing a consumer’s willingness to purchase. Respondents also indicate a strong willingness to pay a premium to retail floral providers that dispose of floral waste through composting (Etheredge et al. 2023). Research has indicated that the premium a consumer is willing to pay varies depending on the specific environmental attribute (Khachatryan et al. 2014). Additionally, a past study that investigated consumers environmental practices based on the types of plant purchases found that consumers who purchase predominantly herbaceous plants, flowering annual plants, perennial plants, indoor flowering plants, and herbs or vegetable transplants were more environmentally friendly when compared with consumers who purchase other types of plants (Behe et al. 2010).

A recent study that investigated retail flower shop owners’ perceptions of environmentalism and their willingness to compost fresh cut floral waste produced at their retail floral establishments found that most of these owners who participated in the study had a high level of environmental concern and were willing to collaborate with local community programs, such as community gardens and Master Gardeners, if it meant the waste produced at their shops could be composted (Etheredge and Waliczek 2020).

The main reasons why consumers purchase sustainable products are plant/species, soil, and water protection, as well as conservation of resources, greenhouse gas emission reduction, and to encourage recyclability (Isaak and Lentz 2020). A study found that both luxury and utilitarian product perceptions were enhanced by claims emphasizing global environmental benefits (Steinhart et al. 2013). Environmental assertions may also improve consumers’ perceptions of luxury items, thus justifying their indulgence in such products (Steinhart et al. 2013).

The main purpose of this study was to compare the differences in consumer perceptions and willingness to pay as they relate to retail floral providers’ sustainable and environmentally friendly practices based on demographic traits.

Materials and methods

Sample

Institutional review board exemption approval was obtained for this research (IRB Protocol 21–211; May 2021). Respondents were drawn from an online survey that was created using Qualtrics (Provo, UT, USA) and posted for 5 weeks by the sponsors and cosponsors of the study on their social media platforms and spread through post sharing between 21 Dec 2022 to 27 Jan 2023. To gain a more robust sample, the researchers also contracted Momentive Inc. (San Mateo, CA, USA), which maintains a panel of more than 50 million people globally. The researchers specified within the survey consent form/summary that individuals who were targeted for the study needed to be at least 18 years old and reside within the United States. Control mechanisms in place by the contracted provider eliminated duplicate responses.

Instrumentation

The survey consisted of 31 questions within four different sections and was assembled using tested reliable and valid surveys from past research that explored consumers’ preferences and purchasing habits for floral products and views toward environmental certifications and awards (Huang and Yeh 2009; Lee et al. 2019; Short et al. 2017; Yue and Behe 2008). An initial search for test instruments measuring consumers perceptions of environmental sustainability incorporated in business models was performed and sample questions from each instrument were selected and adapted to fit the topic of this study. After questions were selected and adapted to fit the area of environmental sustainability for this study, the questionnaire was reviewed by the panel of experts. The expert panel consisted of eight individuals working within the educational, wholesale, and retail sectors of the floriculture industry. The expert panel was selected based on their experience in the floriculture industry and their willingness to participate on the panel. Then, the questionnaire was pilot-tested to identify problems with the instructions of the questionnaire and specific questions within the survey.

The first section of the survey investigated which sustainable attributes consumers considered to be the most important based on how much more they were willing to pay for varying sustainable business attributes. This section included 14 questions related to respondents’ perceptions of sustainable attributes and their willingness to pay a premium for products from floral providers who was more environmentally sustainable than for those who were not. Respondents answered questions using a 5-point Likert scale (Likert 1932), multiple-choice questions, and ranking questions. Likert answers included “strongly disagree,” “disagree,” “neither agree nor disagree,” “agree,” and “strongly agree.” Examples of questions included, “I think it is the environmentally right choice to make purchases from retail floral providers based on their environmental practices,” and “All other considerations held the same, I would be more willing to make purchases from retail floral providers that recycle their flower waste through composting than retail floral providers that dispose of floral waste in municipal landfills” (Lee et al. 2019). Multiple-choice questions asked respondents to answer questions from a given set of answers. Example of multiple-choice questions included, “Please indicate how much more, if any, you would be willing to pay for a flower arrangement made by a retail floral provider who recycles flower waste through composting rather than disposing of floral waste in a municipal landfill.” Examples of multiple-choice answers included “0%,” “5%,” “10%,” “15%,” “20%,” and “25% or more.”

The second section of the survey was modified from a tested, reliable, and valid instrument used in past research to determine consumers’ perceptions of hotels that received green awards and certifications (Lee et al. 2019). The wording of questions was altered to pertain to the retail floral industry. This section consisted of three questions including two Likert-type questions and one multiple-choice question. Likert-type (Likert 1932) questions were answered using the “strongly disagree,” “disagree,” “neither agree nor disagree,” “agree,” and “strongly agree” scale. The multiple-choice scale included percentage values from which consumers chose a relevant assessment. Examples of questions included, “If an environmentally friendly certification existed for retail floral providers, then I would be more willing to make purchases from a certified environmentally-friendly retail floral provider than from a retail floral provider not certified” and “Please indicate how much more, if any, you would be willing to pay for flowers and floral designs from an environmentally friendly-certified retail floral provider if such a certification existed.”

The third section of the survey consisted of five questions and collected information regarding consumers’ cut flower shopping habits. Respondents were asked to identify the frequency at which they purchase flowers from a retail flower shop and the way they most often make purchases from a retail flower shop: online, face-to-face, or over the phone. Questions were drawn from previously tested reliable and validated studies (Huang and Yeh 2009; Yue and Behe 2008).

The final section of the survey consisted of six demographic questions asking respondents to provide their age, education level, annual household income, gender, ethnicity, and state where they live. These were modeled on a reliable and validated instrument used in a previous similar study (Short et al. 2017).

Data Analysis

Data were analyzed using an analysis of variance (ANOVA) and post hoc [least significant difference (LSD)] tests, as well as descriptive and frequency statistics.

Results and discussion

Survey Response

A total of 2172 people responded to the survey. Overall, the demographics of the respondents aligned closely with the overall demographics of the United States (US Census Bureau 2023). However, the respondent population for this study did skew slightly more toward females (1229; 56.6%), Caucasians (1514; 69.7%), and college-educated people (1221; 56.2%) (Table 1). Overall response rates for certain demographic groups were low, thus eliminating generalizations of some demographic groups to the demographics population as a whole. The survey was successfully completed by respondents living within all 50 states and Washington D.C. (Table 1).

Table 1.

Frequency statistics during the study of demographic differences in United States consumers’ perceptions and willingness to pay for sustainable environmental practices in the floral industry.

Table 1.

Demographic Data Comparison

ANOVAs were performed to determine if there were differences in responses to questions that were answered based on the gender, age, education level, ethnicity, and annual household income of respondents (Table 2). Significant differences were found in all five demographic groups. Post hoc, LSD, and frequency tests were used to determine where these significant differences occurred within each demographic category.

Table 2.

ANOVA and frequency statistics indicating significant differences in the way participants responded to survey questions pertaining to their views on sustainable attributes that could be included in business models of retail floral providers based on the respondent’s gender.

Table 2.
Table 2.

Analysis based on gender

Based on gender, ANOVAs found significant differences in the way respondents answered seven of the environmental health questions (Table 2). Male respondents agreed or strongly agreed more with four of the statements asking about different sustainable attributes that could be incorporated into a floral providers business model compared with females and nonbinary/third-gender participants. The statements in which males responded differently were as follows: “All other considerations held the same, I would be more willing to make purchases from a retail floral provider who sells flowers sourced from local farmers and nurseries (farms and nurseries within 100 miles of the retail floral provider)”; “All other considerations held the same, I would be more willing to make purchases from a retail floral provider who uses sustainable, recycled, upcycled, and/or reusable materials instead of single-use products” (single-use plastic products can be defined as items that are used once or for a short period of time before being thrown away); “If an environmentally friendly certification existed for retail floral providers, then I would be more willing to make purchases from a certified environmentally friendly retail floral provider than from a retail floral provider not certified”; and “If an environmentally friendly certification existed for retail floral providers, then I would trust a retail floral providers’ environmental quality standards when purchasing from an environmentally friendly-certified retail floral provider.” This indicates that males had a stronger willingness to shop at floral providers with certain sustainable attributes associated with them when compared with females and nonbinary/third-gender participants (Table 2).

No significant differences were found when reviewing how much more participants were willing to pay for sustainable attributes based on gender. Although males indicated stronger willingness to make purchases from floral providers based on four of the sustainable attributes more than other genders, they were not willing to pay more for these sustainable attributes than other genders. Although not significantly different from males, overall, females were slightly more willing to pay at least 10% or more for environmentally friendly floral attributes when compared with males. This is supported by past research that found that females were more willing to pay a premium for environmentally friendly products (Laroche et al. 2001).

It was found that the following participants purchased flowers three to four times per year or more: male participants, 554 (60.1%); female participants, 714 (58.1%), and nonbinary/third-gender participants, 12 (54.5%).

Overall, the most frequent way floral purchases were made, regardless of gender, was in person [males, 600 (65.1%); females, 805 (65.5%); and nonbinary/third gender, 13 (59.1%)]. However, male participants were slightly more likely to make purchases over the phone than female and nonbinary/third-gender participants (Table 2). Female participants were slightly more likely to make purchases using a store website than male and nonbinary/third-gender participants (Table 2).

It was found that male participants made purchases for other people at a higher rate than female participants and nonbinary/third-gender participants. Female participants made floral purchases for themselves at a higher rate than male and nonbinary/third-gender participants. Nonbinary/third-gender participants were least likely to make floral purchases compared with male and female participants (Table 2). However, because the sample size for nonbinary/third-gender participation was so small, the results cannot be generalized to the population. Regardless of gender, respondents were the most willing to pay a premium of 10% or more for flowers from a floral provider who uses locally sourced flowers, followed by those that compost their floral waste.

Analysis based on age

When comparing age groups, ANOVA tests found significant differences in the way respondents answered 16 questions (Table 3).

Table 3.

ANOVA and frequency statistics indicating significant differences in the way participants responded to survey questions pertaining to their views on sustainable attributes that could be included in a retail floral provider’s business model based on the respondent’s age.

Table 3.
Table 3.
Table 3.
Table 3.
Table 3.
Table 3.

The data indicated that the overall respondents 55 years of age and older were less willing to make purchases from a retail floral provider who is environmentally friendly when compared with a retail floral provider who is not environmentally friendly in their practices and expressed the least willingness to pay a premium for sustainable attributes (Table 3). When asked to agree or disagree with the statement “I think it is the environmentally right choice to make purchases from retail floral providers based on their environmental practices,” the post hoc analysis (LSD) indicated there was a difference in the way participants 54 years of age and younger responded to the question and the way participants 55 years of age and older responded. Participants 54 years of age and younger agreed or strongly agreed with the statement more when compared with participants older than 55, with participants 34 years of age and younger agreeing the most with the statement [18–24 years of age who agree or strongly agree, 144 (69.5%); 25–34 years of age who agree or strongly agree, 246 (70.3%); 35–44 years of age who agree or strongly agree, 217 (59.1%); 45–54 years of age who agree or strongly agree, 246 (60.4%); 55–64 years of age who agree or strongly agree, 226 (51.9%); 65 years of age or older who agree or strongly agree, 190 (46.9%)] (Table 2). Respondents 65 years of age or older were the least willing to pay a premium for four of the sustainable attributes they were asked about and were the least willing to shop at a floral provider with an environmentally friendly certification (Table 3). Respondents 34 years of age and younger were the most interested in and willing to pay a premium for all sustainable attributes (Table 3). Additionally, the data indicated that respondents 65 years of age or older made the fewest floral purchases when compared with all other age groups, with those between the ages of 45 and 54 years making the most floral purchases (Table 3). Past research has found that younger consumers show more interest in buying green products, but that consumers 36 to 50 years of age are the most likely group to proactively purchase products from environmentally friendly companies (Nekmahmud and Fekete-Farkas 2020; Patel et al. 2017). Regardless of age, respondents were the most willing to pay a premium of 10% or more for flowers from a floral provider who uses locally sourced flowers and composts floral waste.

Analysis based on education level

Results of the ANOVA indicated a statistically significant difference in the way respondents answered four questions based on their education level (Table 4). Overall, participants with at least some college education more strongly agreed with each statement when compared with other educational groups. Respondents with a postgraduate degree expressed the most interest in making purchases from a floral provider that uses fair trade sourced flowers when compared with other education groups [K–11, 10 (41.6%) agree or strongly agree; general educational development (GED)/high school diploma, 156 (49.8%) agree or strongly agree; some college, 275 (54.7%) agree or strongly agree; college degree, 406 (51.8%) agree or strongly agree; postgraduate degree, 276 (63.1%) agree or strongly agree; associate degree/trade school, 52 (46.0%) agree or strongly agree] (Table 4). However, respondents with a postgraduate degree did not indicate a greater willingness to pay for fair trade flowers when compared with other education groups (Table 4). More of those with a postgraduate education purchased flowers at a higher rate when compared with the other education groups [K–11, 12 (49.9%) made three to four floral purchases per year or more; GED/high school diploma, 172 (54.9%) made three to four floral purchases per year or more; some college, 284 (56.5%) made three to four floral purchases per year or more; college degree, 464 (59.2%) made three to four floral purchases per year or more; postgraduate degree, 290 (66.4%) made three to four floral purchases per year or more; associate degree/trade school, 58 (52.2%) made three to four floral purchases per year or more] (Table 4). Past research indicated a positive correlation between environmental consciousness and education level (Boztepe 2012). When asked, “If an environmentally friendly certification existed for retail floral providers, then I would trust a retail floral providers’ environmental quality standard when purchasing from an environmentally friendly-certified retail floral provider,” the post hoc analysis (LSD) indicated there was a difference in the way participants with a K to 11 education answered the question when compared with all other education groups. A majority of all other education groups agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, whereas only 7 (29.1%) of K to 11 education participants agreed or strongly agreed with the statement. However, because the sample size of those with a K to 11 education was small, results regarding this demographic group cannot be generalized to the demographic. Regardless of education level, respondents were the most willing to pay a premium of 10% or more for flowers from a floral provider who uses locally sourced flowers and composts floral waste.

Table 4.

ANOVA and frequency statistics indicating significant differences in the way participants responded to survey questions pertaining to their views on sustainable attributes that could be included into business models of retail floral providers based on the respondent’s education level.

Table 4.
Table 4.

Analysis based on race

Respondents’ answers were compared based on race. A majority of all the participants (69.7%) were white/Caucasian. Because the sample size for other racial groups was small, results regarding some racial groups other than white/Caucasians cannot be generalized to the population as a whole and could vary when testing a larger, more racially diverse sample.

The ANOVAs indicated significant differences in the way participants answered 14 of the survey questions based on their race (Table 5).

Table 5.

ANOVA and frequency statistics indicating significant differences in the way participants responded to survey questions pertaining to their views on sustainable attributes that could be included into the business model of retail floral providers based on the respondent’s ethnicity.

Table 5.
Table 5.
Table 5.
Table 5.
Table 5.

Asian/Asian American respondents were more willing to make purchases from retail floral providers that are environmentally friendly when compared with retail floral providers that are not environmentally friendly when compared with other racial groups [white/Caucasian participants who agree or strongly agree, 915 (60.5%); black/African American participants who agree or strongly agree, 98 (59.2%); Hispanic/Latino participants who agree or strongly agree, 118 (63.8%); Asian/Asian American participants who agree or strongly agree, 140 (71.4%); American Indian/Alaskan Native participants who agree or strongly agree, 17 (62.9%); Hawaiian/Pacific Islander participants who agree or strongly agree, 5 (55.5%); participants of another race who agree or strongly agree, 41 (53.3%)] (Table 5). However, this did not translate to an overall willingness to pay more for flowers from a floral provider with environmentally sustainable attributes when compared with other racial groups. This could be explained, in part, by cultural upbringing. Past research has found that those from Asian countries are influenced by their cultural norms and the implemented policies of their governments (Chan and Chau 2019).

Caucasians and those who identified as a race other than those on the answer list were found to be the least willing to pay a premium for five of the sustainable attributes asked about when compared with all other racial groups. Those who identified as a race other than those on the answer list were also found to answer an additional four questions differently when compared with all other racial groups. Those statements were as follows: “All other considerations held the same, I would be more willing to make purchases from retail floral providers that sell flowers sourced from local farmers and nurseries (farms and nurseries within 100 miles of the retail floral provider)”; “Please indicate how much more, if any, you would be willing to pay for a flower arrangement made using locally grown flowers (grown within 100 miles of the retail floral provider)”; “When deciding where to make a floral purchase, which of the following aspects of sustainability do you consider to be the most important for a retail floral provider to practice”; and “If an environmentally friendly certification existed for retail floral providers, then I would trust retail floral providers’ environmental quality standards when purchasing from environmentally friendly-certified retail floral providers.” Those who identified as a race other than those on the answer list were found to be the least willing to make floral purchases from a sustainable a floral provider who uses locally sourced flowers and were the least willing to trust and a pay a premium to a floral provider with an environmentally friendly certification. When asked, “When deciding where to make a floral purchase, which of the following aspects of sustainability do you consider to be the most important for a retail floral provider to practice?”, the post hoc analysis (LSD) indicated that there was a difference in the way respondents who identified as another race answered the question when compared with all other racial groups. The most frequently selected answer choice for the question for all racial groups, except those identifying as another race, was “Materials (other than flowers) used in floral design are sustainable, recyclable, upcyclable, and reusable.” The most frequently selected answer choice for those who were from another race was “None of the above is important to me when making floral purchases.”

Analysis based on annual household income level

The ANOVAs found significant differences in the way participants answered eight of the survey questions based on their annual household income (Table 6). The data indicated that all differences were among respondents with an income of $200,000 or more when compared with other income groups. In all instances, those with an annual household income more than $200,000 indicated being less willing overall to make purchases from floral providers with sustainable attributes (Table 6). However, although those with an annual household income more than $200,000 indicated less interest in making purchases from floral providers based on sustainable attributes, it did not translate to less willingness to pay a premium for sustainable attributes. No significant differences were found in the way respondents answered the questions regarding how much more, if any, they would be willing to pay for sustainable attributes. Past research found conflicting results regarding the annual household income level and consumers’ willingness to purchase sustainable products. It was found that the annual household income does not affect organic food purchases, whereas other research has suggested that consumers earning higher incomes were more likely to have purchased locally produced foods and to have purchased foods produced with reduced pesticides efforts (Govindasamy and Italia 1998; Jolly 1991; Misra et al. 1991; Ross et al. 2000). Additionally, research showed income has a weak relationship with the level of sustainability efforts (Alkadry et al. 2019).

Table 6.

ANOVA and frequency statistics indicating significant differences in the way participants responded to survey questions pertaining to their views on sustainable attributes that could be included into the business models of retail floral providers based on the respondent’s annual household income.

Table 6.
Table 6.
Table 6.

When asked, “How often do you make floral purchases?” (flower purchases can be defined as cut flowers and indoor potted plants purchased at retail flower providers and separate from nursery/greenhouse purchases), the post hoc analysis (LSD) indicated there was a difference in the way respondents with an income of $75,000 or more answered the question when compared with those with an income less than $75,000. The results showed that those with an income more than $75,000 make floral purchases more frequently than those with an income less than $75,000 (Table 6). Regardless of the annual household income, respondents were the most willing to pay a premium of 10% or more for flowers from a floral provider who uses locally sourced flowers and composts floral waste.

Conclusions

The methods that retail floral providers use to source floral material, create floral designs, market, and brand their companies are increasingly becoming important considerations when trying to promote their services toward environmentally conscious consumers and creating a valuable repeat customer base. Based on the findings of this study, floral providers that currently incorporate any sustainable attributes into their business models should strongly consider using this in promotion and advertisement to set themselves apart from the competition and make consumers aware of their environmental efforts. From the list of sustainable attributes covered in this study, respondents indicated the use of locally sourced flowers and the composting of floral waste as being the two sustainable attributes that could be incorporated into the business model of floral providers that have the most perceived value to consumers.

The fact that respondents placed the most value on the use of locally sourced flowers indicates a need to further research this attribute to understand what locally sourced flowers means more fully to the United States population, as well as the possible need for the expansion of the local cut flower-growing industry into smaller regional pockets.

When analyzing survey question responses based on the demographics of participants, it was found that males indicated a stronger willingness to shop at a floral provider based on several of the environmental statements when compared with other genders. This indicates that floral providers who has incorporated these specific environmental attributes for which males respond more positively should consider promoting their businesses in areas where males are likely to encounter them. Additionally, although males make more purchases as gifts, it was found that females purchase more flowers for themselves. These findings support past research that also found that females are more willing to purchase environmentally sustainable products (Laroche et al. 2001).

Respondents 34 years of age or younger were the most interested in and willing to pay a premium for sustainable attributes. As the age of the participants increased, their overall willingness to pay for environmentally friendly practices tended to decrease. Respondents 55 years of age or older expressed the least willingness to pay a premium for sustainable attributes, with respondents 65 years of age or older being the least willing to pay a premium for environmentally friendly attributes. Respondents 65 years of age or older also indicated they made fewer floral purchases within 1 year than all other age groups. This supports past research that also found that younger consumers have a greater interest in purchasing environmentally friendly products (Gabellini and Scaramuzzi 2022). These findings indicated that floral providers incorporating sustainable attributes in their business model should focus their promotional efforts on individuals younger than age 55 years, and especially those younger than age 35 years.

There was little disagreement among participants when comparing survey answers based on education. Overall, respondents with college experience indicated a greater willingness to make purchases from floral providers with sustainable attributes.

Because of the small sample size of several of the racial demographic groups, generalizations regarding racial groups could change with a larger, more racially diverse sample.

When analyzing responses based on the annual household income level, it was found that participants with an income of $200,000 or more indicated less agreement with several of the environmentally friendly attribute questions. However, participants with an income $200,000 or more were still willing to pay the same premium levels for environmentally friendly attributes compared to those with other income levels and even slightly more in some instances. In general, all income groups were willing to pay at least 10% or more for sustainable attributes.

Because floral providers may not be able to differentiate certain demographic groups from others, efforts should be made by retail floral providers who have implemented sustainable attributes within their businesses to inform an audience that is as broad and diverse as possible through as many promotional venues available, such as instore signage, statements posted to online websites and social media accounts, and information regarding the businesses-sustainable efforts sent to customer e-mail lists.

Because this was a preliminary study of consumers’ stated preferences for hypothetical environmentally sustainable attributes that could be incorporated into retail floral providers’ businesses, future studies investigating this topic using the revealed preferences methods are suggested to ascertain whether the participants’ real-world purchasing decisions reflect the survey findings.

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    • Search Google Scholar
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  • Jolly DA. 1991. Differences between buyers and nonbuyers of organic produce and willingness to pay organic price premiums. J Agribus. 9:97111.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Khachatryan H, Campbell B, Hall C, Behe B, Yue C, Dennis J. 2014. The effects of individual environmental concerns on willingness to pay for sustainable plant attributes. HortScience. 49(1):6975. https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTSCI.49.1.69.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Laroche M, Bergeron J, Barbaro-Forleo G. 2001. Targeting consumers who are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products. J Consumer Mktg. 18:503520. https://doi.org/10.1108/EUM0000000006155.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lee KH, Lee M, Gunarathne N. 2019. Do green awards and certifications matter? Consumers’ perceptions, green behavioral intentions, and economic implications for the hotel industry: A Sri Lankan perspective. Tourism Econ. 25:593612. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354816618810563.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lernoud J, Willer H. 2017. The organic and fairtrade market 2015, p 143–148. In: Willer H, Lernoud J (eds). The world of organic agriculture (18th ed). Medienhaus Plump, Rheinbreitbach, Germany.

  • Likert R. 1932. A technique for the measurement of attitudes. Arch Psychol. 22:140155.

  • Misra S, Huang CL, Ott SL. 1991. Georgia consumers’ preference for organically grown fresh produce. J Agribus. 9:5365.

  • Nekmahmud MD, Fekete-Farkas M. 2020. Why not green marketing? Determinates of consumers’ intention to green purchase decision in a new developing nation. Sustainability. 12:131. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12197880.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nguyen HV, Nguyen CH, Hoang TB. 2019. Green consumption: Closing the intention-behavior gap. Sustain Dev. 27:118129. https://doi.org/10.1002/sd.1875.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ouvrard S, Jasimuddin SM, Spiga A. 2020 Does sustainability push to reshape business models? Evidence from the European wine industry. Sustainability. 12:2561. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12062561.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Patel J, Modi A, Paul J. 2017. Pro-environmental behavior and socio-demographic factors in an emerging market. Asian J Bus Ethics. 6:189214. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13520-016-0071-5.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Raynolds LT. 2012. Fair trade flowers: Global certification, environmental sustainability, and labor standards. Rural Sociol. 77:493519. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1549-0831.2012.00090.x.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ross NJ, Anderson MD, Goldberg JP, Rogers BL. 2000. Increasing purchases of locally grown produce through worksite sales: An ecological model. J Nutr Educ. 32:304313. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-3182(00)70589-9.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Short K, Etheredge CL, Waliczek TM. 2017. Studying the market potential for specialty cultivars of sunflower cut flowers. HortTechnology. 27:611617. https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTTECH03710-17.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Society of American Florists. 2016. Consumer trends on buying flowers. https://safnow.org/aboutflowers/about-the-flower-industry/consumer-buying-trends/. [accessed 16 May 2021].

  • Steinhart Y, Ayalon O, Puterman H. 2013. The effect of an environmental claim on consumers’ perceptions about luxury and utilitarian products. J Cleaner Production. 53:277286. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2013.04.024.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Toumi K, Vleminckx C, Van Loco J, Schiffers B. 2016. Pesticide residues on three cut flower species and potential exposure of florists in Belgium. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 13:943. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph13100943.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • US Census Bureau. 2023. Census results. https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decennial-census/decade/2020/2020-census-results.html. [accessed 16 Jun 2023].

  • Wijekoon R, Sabri MF. 2021. Determinants that influence green product purchase intention and behavior: A literature review and guiding framework. Sustainability. 13:6219. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13116219.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yue C, Behe BK. 2008. Estimating U.S. consumers’ choice of floral retail outlets. HortScience. 43:764769. https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTSCI.43.3.764.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
Coleman L. Etheredge Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS 39759, USA

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Tina M. Waliczek Department of Agricultural Sciences, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX 78666, USA

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James DelPrince Mississippi State University Costal Research and Extension Center, Mississippi State University, Biloxi, MS 39532, USA

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Contributor Notes

This study was facilitated and funded by the Floral Marketing Fund in cooperation with the American Floral Endowment and co-sponsored by BloomNet®, a floral services company, serving more than 5000 local florists across the country, and Syndicate Sales, a leading manufacturer/supplier of floral hardgoods for retail florists.

C.L.E. is the corresponding author. E-mail: cle248@msstate.edu.

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