SERVQUAL has been demonstrated to be a reliable and valid tool to measure customer perceptions and expectations of service quality. Two previous uses of the survey in the horticulture industry were identified. In Spring 1997, we adapted the SERVQUAL instrument to survey 701 customers of 10 retail garden centers (TR) and four nontraditional retail or mass-merchandise outlets (MM) in seven U.S. markets. Among the seven markets, customers differed on only two of six demographic characteristics: income and number of people residing in the household. Demographic characteristics of TR and MM customers were similar in terms of age (47 and 45 years), people residing in the household (2), percent female respondents (77% and 73%), and family status. Customers differed demographically on 1996 household income ($50,722 and $44,753). Customers of TR and MM had similarly high expectations for three of five service quality and one product quality dimensions. However, TR customer perceptions were consistently higher on all service and product quality dimensions than MM customers. This yielded consistently higher service quality gaps for MM customers when compared to TR customers. We concluded that TR hold an advantage in these seven markets with higher customer perceptions of product and service quality.
Michigan fresh asparagus marketers were interested in profiling asparagus consumers in the Northeast and Midwest with regard to preferences, purchases, preparation, and consumption. A computer-assisted survey was conducted with a total of 1126 respondents representative of the population on average in 12 selected states in the Northeast and Midwest. Even though the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends adults consume three servings of vegetables daily, on average over the 2 weeks before taking the survey, 62% did not. Only 39% of the persons in the sample ate fresh asparagus in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. Twenty-five percent ate it steamed on the stovetop. The conjoint analysis accounted for 63% of the variance in asparagus preference with attribute relative importance decreasing from price (42.0%), to brand (29.9%), to spear diameter (23.5%), to spear segment (4.6%). Light users consumed fresh asparagus at least once in the 4 weeks before the survey, during the peak fresh asparagus season. The potential to increase consumption in this large group (28% of the sample but 71% of asparagus consumers) is tremendous. They placed high relative importance on price per pound and will likely be the more price-sensitive group. If their consumption can be increased by one more asparagus consumption event per month, it could increase asparagus demand by 14%. Results show there is good market potential for a prepackaged fresh asparagus product in the Northeast and Midwest.
Firms have limited resources that cannot be allocated efficiently to the market as a whole, but can be targeted to selected customer groups. Market segmentation is the process of dividing a market into distinct customer components. Selected products and services that best meet the needs of a selected customer group are targeted to that particular segment in a marketing strategy. Market segmentation and product-targeting concepts help management efficiently allocate scarce resources as part of a comprehensive strategy to expand revenues and profits.
Flower color is a dominant attribute of fresh flowers, likely playing a key role in purchase preference. Several prior studies showed flower color preference differed by gender, but other information on color preferences is sparse. Data for this study were collected by the Ipsos-National Panel Diary Group for the American Floral Endowment, which maintained an extensive panel of consumer transactions from 1992 to 2005, including floral purchases. Multinomial logit analysis of single-stem cut flower purchases showed that men and women differed in their cut flower color preferences but that flower color preference also varied with demographic characteristics and by occasion. We grouped colors into six categories: BluePurple, RedBronze, PeachPink, White, Yellow, and Other. The highest percentage of flowers purchased were RedBronze (34%), whereas the lowest percentage of flowers were Yellow (10.01%) with Other flower colors accounting for less than 5% of purchases. Although women used a more diverse color palette, both men and women were more likely to buy RedBronze flowers for an anniversary and buy PeachPink flowers for Mother's Day. Between 1992 and 2005, women were less likely to purchase PeachPink flowers and men were less likely to purchase RedBronze over time. Overall demand for BluePurple and Yellow flower colors increased over time, whereas the demand for other color categories decreased over time.
In Sept. 2004, an Internet study was conducted to evaluate and determine differences in gardening participation, purchases, and levels of satisfaction and regret by ethnic background. Consumers were asked to identify their participation in seven gardening activities and about the purchase of 12 gardening product categories. The sample was stratified by income and age. The number of differences in garden-related activity participation and purchases decreased as income level increased across ethnic groups. At every income level, persons of Caucasian descent had a higher satisfaction average score and factor score and higher regret mean score and factor score. This indicated that Caucasians did experience greater satisfaction and less regret than persons of other ethnic backgrounds, regardless of income. For marketers, this shows a heterogeneous market at lower-income levels and a more homogeneous market at upper-income levels. Ethnicity could be used as a basis for market segmentation, and differences are indeed present.
Market segmentation is an, efficient method of defining consumer groups to develop new markets. The purpose of this research was to determine the viability of market segmentation strategies based on volume and location of purchase. A sample of 401 Pennsylvania floral consumers was divided into groups based on the number and the primary location of floral purchases. Two discriminant analyses were conducted to determine differences between market segments. Heavy floral consumers exhibited a higher level of floral knowledge, purchased more floral products for themselves and from nonflorist retailers, and had higher incomes than light or medium floral users. Florist customers purchased fresh flowers more frequently, bought more floral gifts, and spent a higher amount per purchase than supermarket customers. Segmentation based on volume of purchase and primary retail location are both viable alternatives for market development strategies for floral consumers.
We determined the influence of demographic characteristics and floral knowledge (measured as product experience) on the type of floral product purchased. A sample of 401 Pennsylvania residents was divided into fresh flower and flowering plant consumer segments. Results of discriminant analyses showed the two segments were moderately distinct. Purchasers of fresh flowers were younger and more likely employed outside the home than those who purchased flowering plants, but the latter had more blooming plants in their homes than did consumers of fresh flowers. Consumers of flowering plants and of fresh flowers did not differ in their level of floral knowledge or demographic characteristics. Minor differences were found between the two segments that were not substantial enough to justify distinct marketing strategies.
As the diversity of the American population increases, so should efforts to understand gardening behavior of different subcultures. Businesses need this information to effectively target these consumer groups, and improve their level of product satisfaction. An Internet study of gardening activities was conduced in Sept. 2004, with a sample of 1591 individuals, but over sampled for African-, Hispanic-, and Asian-Americans. Results showed many differences in the purchases, enjoyment, expenditures, and product satisfaction for these groups compared to the Caucasian sample. More Caucasians had mowed their own lawn in the year prior to the study (60.2%) than African-Americans (47.1%), Hispanics (50.4%), or Asians (50.5%). More Caucasians (58.2%) had participated in flower gardening than African-Americans (33.5%) or Hispanics (44.1%), but similar to the percentage of Asian-Americans (50.9%). However, a similarly high percentage of Asians had participated in fruit, vegetable, or herb gardening (33.8%), compared to Caucasians (33.5%). Both groups participated in fruit, vegetable, or herb gardening more than African-Americans (16.3%) or Hispanics (26.7%). Hispanic gardeners spent 7.3 hours in the garden on average each week, compared to 6.7 hours for Caucasians, 6.5 for Asians, and 4.7 for African-Americans. Yet, Hispanic (3.8) and Asian (3.8) gardeners rated their level of outdoor gardening enjoyment (7-point Likert scale) higher than African-Americans (3.1) but lower than for Caucasians (4.0). This first glimpse of non-Caucasian gardeners shows businesses should target these groups for specific gardening products and may have some extra work to do to improve their level of satisfaction and enjoyment.