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Bridget K. Behe, Paul B. Redman, and John M. Dole

Consumer flower-color preferences are of interest to market researchers, plant producers, and retailers because this information can help them to anticipate accurately the sales product mix. Our objective was to determine consumer bract-color preferences for 47 poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzsch) cultivars. Visitors (124) to the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio, rated `Sonora', a red cultivar, highest (4.6 of 5.0) of any cultivar. Nine of ten highest rated cultivars were red. We compared the ratings of poinsettia buyers with those of nonpoinsettia buyers and found only one difference: nonpoinsettia buyers rated `Jingle Bells III', a marble cultivar, higher (4.3) than poinsettia buyers (3.8). We also compared consumers who had purchased a red poinsettia to those who had purchased nonred colors and found that red poinsettia buyers rated `Sonora' higher (4.9) than nonred poinsettia buyers (4.5). Men rated `Red Elegance' higher (3.7) than women (3.3), whereas women rated `Freedom White' higher (3.1) than men (2.4). We found few differences between men and women, buyers and nonbuyers, and nonred buyers and red buyers, which may indicate a relatively homogeneous market that does not greatly differentiate among poinsettia bract color.

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Lori J. Anderson, Bridget K. Behe, and Kenneth C. Sanderson

Two surveys (one of 101 florists and one of 122 businesses) determined that florists spend little time or money recruiting commercial accounts. Poor communication among businesses and florists was a problem. Of the responding businesses, 91% were never contacted by their florists for any reason, and the methods florists did use for recruiting commercial accounts were incompatible with the means that businesses used to choose florists. Because 79% of businesses made some type of purchase from a florist during the year, florists could pursue commercial accounts as a way of increasing sales. When recruiting new accounts, florists should consider businesses' product preferences, peak gift-giving times, and purchasing preferences.

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Amy H. Simonne, Bridget K. Behe, and Maurice M. Marshall

Fresh and processed tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) consumption has increased 40% in the United States over the last two decades. Through better breeding, fresh tomatoes now are marketed in different forms, sizes, colors, and flavors. However, little published information exists concerning consumer demand, preference, and demographic characteristics related to fresh tomato consumption. Taking advantage of a high percentage of Internet use in the U.S., two web-based surveys were released to approximately 6000 e-mail addresses reaching people in every region of the U.S. The surveys contained a total of 61 questions, including 50 digital images of five types of tomatoes (cherry, grape, cluster, plum, and regular slicing) with combinations of three additional factors (price, lycopene content, and production style) and demographic information. Among 389 respondents, 76% preferred and purchased slicing tomatoes in the 4 weeks prior to the survey. These were followed by grape/mini-pear (42%), plum (36%), cluster (27%), cherry (25%), and yellow slicing tomatoes (4.4%). Overall, production method (organic vs. conventional) had low relative importance in comparison to price and tomato type. However, younger participants (<age 38 years) placed more importance on production method. Participants between ages 39 and 57 years were the most price-sensitive, and female were less sensitive than males. Younger participants (<age 38 years) were less price-sensitive and placed more importance on the other attributes (production method, lycopene content, and tomato type).

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Mary Hockenberry Meyer, Bridget K. Behe, and James Heilig

Six hundred homeowners, equally divided among rural, suburban, and urban areas in Minnesota responded to a 1999 phone survey on their lawn size, maintenance practices, and the perceived environmental impact of their lawns. The average lawn size was estimated to be 0.62 acres (0.25 ha), with an estimated 872,660 total acres (353,427 ha) in home lawns in Minnesota. Annual spending on lawn care per home was about $200, with an estimated $150 million spent annually in Minnesota. Participants reported low maintenance practices and pesticide use. A majority thought fertilizers and pesticides were harmful to the environment and public health. Respondents felt strongly that the government has a right to regulate fertilizers and pesticides in public park and lawn areas, but were divided with regard to the appropriateness of regulation on private property. Many (78.9%) disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that their lawn was harmful to the environment. Most (60%) felt their lawn could have an effect on the environment and 71% felt they personally could make a difference in the environment by how they maintained their lawn.

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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.

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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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Alan W. Hodges, Charles R. Hall, Bridget K. Behe, and Jennifer H. Dennis

The National Nursery Survey has been conducted four times at 5-year intervals (1988, 1993, 1998, and 2003) by a multistate research committee on economics and marketing to help fill the void of publicly available information on management characteristics of the nursery industry. For the first time in 2003, the National Nursery Survey was conducted using a standard sampling methodology with 15,588 total firms representing 44 states. The objective of this study was to provide a regional analysis of nursery production practices, because production practices and technology use may differ across regions in response to varying economic and environmental conditions. From analysis of the 2485 returned surveys, firms in the northern and interior regions of the country with more seasonal activity made greater use of temporary labor. Containerized growing systems were the predominant system throughout the United States; however, firms in the Southeast, South Central, and Pacific coast regions used this system to a greater degree, whereas firms in other regions also commonly used bare root and balled and burlapped systems. Nurseries in the Southeast region, with a warmer climate, used Integrated Pest Management practices more prevalently. Most regions had a significant share of total production from native American plants, approaching or exceeding 20% of total sales, except the Pacific region. In some regions, forward-contracting accounted for a significantly higher share of total sales, perhaps indicating greater aversion to market risk. The Mountain region stood out for its high level of adoption of computer technologies for production, marketing, and management. Data on water use and irrigation technology did not indicate any clear pattern with respect to regional differences in relation to water scarcity.

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Wayne A. Becker, James L. Johnson, Bridget K. Behe, Christine D. Townsend, and Kerry K. Litzenberg

A survey instrument developed to assess service quality in non-horticultural industries (SERVQUAL) was modified and administered to customers of eight florists and 22 supermarket floral departments in Texas. Sixty-six percent of 722 florist and 409 supermarket floral department responding customers had made a floral purchase within 12 weeks of the survey. Their responses were used in the service quality evaluation. Florists met consumer expectations better than supermarket floral departments each of five issues: tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy (p=0.0001). Florist customers perceived their retailer gave higher quality service than supermarket floral customers.

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Jay T. Hudson, Bridget K. Behe, Harry G. Ponder, and William E. Barrick

We compared service quality perceptions and expectations for consumers from five traditional garden centers (TGC) and three nontraditional garden center outlets (NTO) in Charlotte, N.C., in 1995. NTO and TGC customers had very similar expectations of service quality from their respective retailers. However, TGC customers perceived that their retailer better met their overall expectations. Service quality gaps, the difference between customer perceptions and expectations, were identified for both types of outlets for four of five service quality dimensions. Both TGC and NTO customers ranked assurance and responsiveness as the most important service quality dimensions. Empathy was more important than reliability to TGC customers. This order was reversed for NTO customers. Both sets of customers ranked tangibles as the least important service quality dimension.