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Chris Frank, Eric Simonne, Robert Nelson, Amarat Simonne, and Bridget Behe

Most bell peppers produced and consumed in the United States are green in color. However, red, yellow, orange, brown, white, black, and purple bell pepper are also available. While bell pepper consumption has been increasing in the past 10 years, limited information is available on how color, retail price, and vitamin C influence consumer behavior. A conjoint analysis of 436 consumer responses showed that color (75%) and retail price (23%) were more important than vitamin C (3%) in shaping consumer purchase decision. Six consumer segments were identified. Segments II to V preferred green bell pepper, while segments I and VI favored the orange and brown color, respectively. Demographic variables were not good predictors of segment membership. However, previous purchases of bell pepper significantly affected the probability of membership in at least one segment. These results suggest that while green is the preferred color, a market exists for orange, red, and yellow peppers. Results on price sensitivity suggest that profits at the retail level are likely to increase by increasing the price of green peppers, and decresing that of the colored ones.

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Harvey J. Lang, Nancy Howard Agnew, and Bridget K. Behe

Determining consumer preferences for specific plant attributes and plant use can assist in the development of breeding program objectives and marketing strategies. Consumers in Ames, Iowa participated in an intercept-survey to determine their knowledge of, use of, and preference for several varieties of New Guinea Impatiens (Impatiens × hawkeri). Of the population surveyed, 44% had never seen New Guinea Impatiens. Of those that had previously purchased New Guineas, 40% purchased their plants from a retail greenhouse. Outdoor container plantings were the preferred use of New Guinea Impatiens. Mother's Day was chosen by 88% of the respondents as the most appropriate holiday for a gift purchase. Considering plant characteristics, consumers rated condition of the plant as the most important attribute, followed by flower color, flower number, and price. Consumers were asked to rate plants on display comprised of three factors: flower color, leaf variegation, and price. MANOVA was used to determine the most important factor and the trade-off consumers made when expressing a preference for one plant over another.

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Alicia L. Rihn, Chengyan Yue, Charles Hall, and Bridget K. Behe

Choice experiments were conducted to explore the market potential or value added when using longevity information and guarantees on cut flower arrangements in the retail setting. The objective of our study was to determine consumer preferences and willingness to pay for different vase life longevities and guarantees on cut flower arrangements. The choice experiment data were collected using online surveys with 525 U.S. consumers in July 2011. The choice experiment scenarios included single species or mixed species cut flower arrangements with varying vase life longevity (5 to 7 days, 8 to 10 days, 11 to 14 days), presence or absence of vase life longevity guarantee, personal or gift use, and price range ($7.99 to $11.99, $34.99 to $43.99). Two types of arrangements were used in the experiment, mixed arrangements consisting of different species of cut flowers and single-species arrangements consisting of six red roses plus a filler flower. We analyzed the data with a mixed logit model and Ward’s linkage cluster analysis. As expected, participants were willing to pay higher prices for cut flower arrangements with longer vase life longevity. The presence of a guarantee improved participants’ probability of selecting the corresponding cut flower arrangement. Using Ward’s linkage cluster analysis, we found there were three distinct consumer clusters: guarantee seekers (49% of the sample), value-conscious consumers (31%), and spenders (20%). Among the three clusters, guarantee seekers were more likely to select cut flower arrangements with guarantees. Value-conscious consumers were interested in both guarantees and longevity indicators. Spenders were least interested in longevity indicators and guarantees. We conclude floral retailers could successfully implement the use of longevity indicators and guarantees to increase consumer interest in cut flowers and generate profits. Target marketing strategies could then be developed by floral retailers to attract different consumer clusters.

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Alicia Rihn, Hayk Khachatryan, Benjamin Campbell, Charles Hall, and Bridget Behe

A rating-based conjoint experiment combined with eye-tracking analysis was used to investigate the effect of plant attributes on consumer purchase likelihood for indoor foliage plants. The experiment assessed the effects of plant type (Dracaena marginata Lam., Guzmania lingulata, or Spathiphyllum wallisii Regel), volatile organic compound (VOC) removal capacity (high, low, or none specified), price ($10.98–14.98/plant), production method [certified organic, organic production (not certified), or conventional], and origin (in-state, domestic, or imported) on consumer preferences. An ordered logit model was used to analyze the data. Organic production methods, in-state origin, domestic origin, and high VOC removal increased participants’ purchase likelihood. Visually attending to the highest price point ($14.98) increased consumers’ purchase likelihood. Age, gender, child (<12 years), pet, relationship status, education, and ethnicity affected participants’ purchase likelihood for indoor foliage plants. Purchasing barriers for indoor foliage plants are also discussed. Results have implications for indoor foliage plant growers and retailers as they produce, promote, and sell their products.

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Heidi M. Wollaeger, Kristin L. Getter, and Bridget K. Behe

Neonicotinoids have recently been implicated by the media as a contributing factor to the decline of honey and bumblebees. We sought to better understand consumer perceptions and willingness to pay for traditional, neonicotinoid-free, bee-friendly, or biological control pest management practices as growers may seek alternative management practices to systemetic insecticides. We conducted a nationwide Internet survey (n = 3082), where consumers answered attitudinal, comprehension, likelihood-to-buy, and demographical questions about indoor (marketed in 10-cm pots) and outdoor (marketed in 30-cm hanging baskets or 10-cm pots) floriculture products. The likelihood-to-buy questions were analyzed using conjoint analysis to determine which attributes had the greatest part-worth scores or which ones were viewed most positively by survey respondents. Of the total participants, 65.1% (n = 2002) of the subjects had purchased an annual flowering plant in the 12 months before the survey. Respondents reported that the most important plant health and appearance factors that affect their purchasing decisions were that the flowering plants have no plant damage, while the second most important factor was that plants have no insects on them. The least important factor in the ranking of stated importance was that no neonicotinoid insecticides were used during the production of the plant. This finding may have resulted from 56.6% of all participants who reported that they did not understand the term. For those who viewed the indoor 10-cm flowering plants (n = 1052), the plant species accounted for 41.2% of the decision to purchase the plant, followed by production type (32.8%) and price (26.0%). All three product attributes were of equal importance to the subjects who viewed the outdoor 10-cm flowering plants (n = 1024), whereas only price had a lower relative importance when compared with production type and species for those who viewed the 30-cm hanging baskets (n = 1006). Across all three studies, use of the term “bee-friendly” had the greatest economic value because it had the highest part-worth utility score, or the greatest willingness-to-buy. For the subjects who viewed the outdoor plants, “bee-friendly” and “use of beneficial insects” had greater economic value (with positive part-worth utility scores), but “neonicotinoid-free” and “traditional insect control” both had negative part-worth utility scores, indicating they were valued less and detracted from the dollar value of the plant. The term “bee-friendly” was worth up to five times more to those respondents that had bought a plant in the last 12 months compared with those who had not. Therefore, if ornamental plants are labeled with pest management practices, most consumers value the term “bee-friendly” more and will likely discount products labeled “neonicotinoid-free.”

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Bridget K. Behe, Kristin L. Getter, and Chengyan Yue

Sales of many products, including umbrellas and skis, depend on weather conditions. Anecdotal evidence from plant producers and retailers indicate that their sales are also heavily reliant on weather conditions. Still, little published literature documents weather's influence on plant sales. Daily sales data of herbs, vegetables, and flowering annuals were acquired from 42 retail stores in Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan (which were divided into four regions based on zip code). The multisite Midwestern retailer sells food and household items year-round but seasonally sells plants in outdoor covered areas. The data were analyzed using time series regression and the model produced significant results, but the amount of variance captured by region, weather parameters, month, and day of the week was only ≈40% for herbs and vegetables (H+V) and flowering annual plants (FA). Precipitation amount had no effect on sales of H+V and FA, likely because the plants were merchandised under cover. Increasing units of sunshine lowered sales by 1%. H+V sales were greatest in the southeast Michigan region but for FA were greatest in the mid-Michigan region. Lower minimum air temperature reduced sales for sales of both H+V and FA, whereas higher maximum air temperature increased sales. Sales were substantially higher in May and lower in June and July compared with April. Sales were higher in 2009 than 2007. Compared with Wednesday, sales were higher everyday and highest on Saturday. Day of week and month had a greater impact on sales than did any weather parameter. Thus, region, weather, month, and weekday do influence daily plant sales but did not account for most of the variability in 42 U.S. midwestern retail outlets.

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Alicia L. Rihn, Chengyan Yue, Bridget Behe, and Charles Hall

Demand for fresh-cut flowers and floral products has been decreasing in recent years, particularly among young consumers. The objectives of this study were to explore Generations X and Y's positive and negative attitudes toward flowers as gifts; explore differences in perceptions about price, product, place, and promotions among Generations X and Y to determine the best marketing techniques to reach them; and determine what actions the floral industry can take to improve Generations X and Y's use of flowers as gifts. Participants were recruited in Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN, and Lansing and East Lansing, MI. Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire and participate in a focus group discussion. An ordered probit model was used to analyze the data. Results showed that younger consumers were dissatisfied with several floral product attributes, including short longevity, lack of trendiness, relative high cost, lack of appropriateness, and lack of uniqueness. Results also indicate that younger consumers perceived that their friends do not enjoy floral gifts. Additionally, younger consumers viewed floral advertisements less frequently and considered floral gifts difficult to purchase, resulting in decreased awareness and interest. Overall, most participants felt that in-store sales or discounts, greater flower longevity, more price ranges, and trendier arrangements/flowers would increase their use of fresh flowers as gifts.

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Kathleen M. Kelley, Bridget K. Behe, and Elizabeth H. Moore

Four-inch (10.2-cm) potted floweringCampanula carpatica Jacq. 'Blue Clips' (campanula) traditional herbaceous perennials, were sold in floral departments of three retail supermarket chain stores from 5 May through 20 May and 16 June through 1 July 2000. The intent was to determine whether repositioning campanula as a “new” indoor flowering potted plant would add to total floral department sales or detract from sales of more traditional flowering potted plants. Unit sales for all 4- and 4.5-inch (10.2- and 11.3-cm) flowering potted plants stocked in three supermarket floral departments were recorded weekly and compared with unit sales from three stores where campanula were not sold (control). Unit sales for campanula were similar to those of traditional indoor flowering potted plants frequently stocked in floral departments. Statistical analysis showed that mean unit sales of traditional potted flowering plants for stores that did and did not stock campanula were similar. Therefore, adding campanula to the flowering potted plant mix did not detract from or jeopardize sales of similar indoor flowering potted plants.

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Bridget K. Behe, Timothy A. Prince, and Harry K. Tayama

Survey analysis of 510 floral product consumers in Ohio supermarkets identified 34 factors that affect floral purchasing. Responses to 106 survey questions were factor-analyzed using a principal component analysis with varimax rotate that yielded 34 independent factors, accounting for 64% of the total variance. Factors were grouped into five major categories: product, consumer, store, use (gift), and use (location) factors. The analysis condensed the domain of consumer floral purchasing issues into fewer factors that represent the most important influences on floral buying decisions. The factors are useful in market segmentation and were used to define five market segments of supermarket-floral customers.

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Bridget K. Behe, Timothy A. Prince, and Harry K. Tayama

A profile of consumer groups who purchased floral products from supermarkets was studied with a 106-item questionnaire developed to determine the domain of issues affecting supermarket floral purchases. Thirty-four factors were identified in factor analysis and formed the basis for cluster analysis. Cluster analysis was performed on survey responses to create five homogeneous consumer segments. Demographic data and floral-purchase factors were used to profile market segments and distinguishing elements. Fourteen factors contributed most to the differences between segments, including factors of product assortment, number of purchases, degree of personal use, and package importance. Clusters can be used by supermarket and florist management as potential target markets.