This study adds to the consumer choice literature by linking consumers’ environmental concern (EC) orientations (egoistic, altruistic and biospheric) to willingness to pay (WTP) premiums for proenvironmental attributes. Results from a mixed-ordered probit model showed that individuals were willing to pay a premium for energy-saving production practices ($0.131), non-plastic containers such as compostable ($0.227), plantable ($0.122), and recyclable ($0.155), and locally grown plants ($0.222). Individuals scoring high on the EC scale expressed higher WTP across all attributes—$0.148 for energy-saving practices, $0.288 for locally grown plants, and $0.255, $0.143, and $0.175 for compostable, plantable, and recyclable containers, respectively. Using the results, we discuss the practical implications for nursery and garden stores (i.e., communicating product attributes related information to consumers).
Hayk Khachatryan, Ben Campbell, Charles Hall, Bridget Behe, Chengyan Yue, and Jennifer Dennis
Ariana P. Torres, Alicia L. Rihn, Susan S. Barton, Bridget K. Behe, and Hayk Khachatryan
Online advertising is becoming a mainstay business practice to reach firms’ customer bases. Yet, the adoption and use of online advertising in the green industry are topics that have not been adequately researched. Using a national survey of green industry firms conducted in 2019, this research uses a double-hurdle model to investigate factors that impact firms’ adoption of, and amount spent on, online advertising. Our results show that one-third of the companies invested in online advertising. Of those investing in online advertising, the average percentage of online advertising as a share of all advertising expenditures was 46%. Small businesses were less likely to invest in online advertising compared with larger businesses; however, once they invested in online advertising, the percentage of investment was 25% higher among small firms when compared with their larger counterparts. Increasing years in operation as well as trade show participation was related to a 3% decrease in likelihood to use online advertising. Business owners who perceived hiring competent employees as a barrier to business growth invested 19% less of their advertising budget in online channels, which may indicate a lack of human resources to advertise online. We also compared the industry results with data from a 2014 survey and found the amount invested in online advertising increased ≈3% to 5% between studies. The percentage in wholesale sales influenced the amount spent on online advertising in 2014 but not in 2019. Being a small firm in 2014 increased the amount spent on online advertising, but the effect was 14% lower in 2019. In 2014, firms located in the Pacific, Southcentral, and Southeast U.S. regions invested more in online advertising compared with other regions, but in 2019, the only geographic difference was that firms in the Great Plains spent less on online advertising. Despite their lower adoption rates, the increased expenditures on online advertising implies that smaller firms that implement online advertising receive value through that channel and are willing to allocate more resources to leverage its reach. Firms contemplating adopting and investing in online advertising should consider their resource availability and marketing goals related to reaching different customer groups through online advertising.
Alicia L. Rihn, Ariana Torres, Susan S. Barton, Bridget K. Behe, and Hayk Khachatryan
The landscape service sector is an important part of the environmental horticulture industry. However, research addressing factors impacting its business and marketing practices are scarce. This manuscript uses data collected via online and mail industry surveys in 2014 and 2019 to investigate U.S. landscape service firms’ advertising and marketing practices and different factors that influence their business strategies by firm type and size. Product mix, advertising method, and the importance of different business factors were impacted by firm type. Landscape service only firms had the most diverse product offerings, while firms with wholesale production had the least diversity. Landscape service only firms primarily used in-person and telephone advertising, while firms with wholesale production used a broader swath of advertising medias to reach a more diversified clientele. Overall, weather and labor-related factors had the most impact on landscaping firms’ business practices. Larger firms perceived labor factors as more important than smaller firms.
Bridget K. Behe, Benjamin L. Campbell, Hayk Khachatryan, Charles R. Hall, Jennifer H. Dennis, Patricia T. Huddleston, and R. Thomas Fernandez
Plants are often merchandised with minimal packaging; thus, consumers have only the plant (intrinsic cue) or information signs (extrinsic cues) on which to assess the product and base their purchase decision. Our objective was to segment consumers based on their preferences for certain plant display attributes and compare their gaze behavior when viewing plant displays. Using conjoint analysis, we identified three distinct consumer segments: plant-oriented (73%), production method-oriented (11%), and price-oriented (16%) consumers. Using eye tracking technology, we show that subjects spent more visual attention to cues in the horticultural retail displays that were relatively more important to them. For example, plant-oriented consumers were the fastest segment to fixate on the plants and looked at the plants for longer amounts of time compared with the other segments. Production method-oriented consumers looked at the labeling related to production method for a longer duration, whereas the price-oriented consumer looked at the price sign the longest. Findings suggest that retailers should carefully consider the type of information included on retail signage and the visual impact it has on different consumers.
Esther McGinnis, Alicia Rihn, Natalie Bumgarner, Sarada Krishnan, Jourdan Cole, Casey Sclar, and Hayk Khachatryan
The millennial generation, born between 1981 and 1996, is the largest demographic age group in the United States. This generation of plant enthusiasts has experienced financial setbacks; nevertheless, they collectively wield immense economic power. In 2018, this generation made one-quarter of all horticulture purchases. Consumer horticulture (CH) is challenged to develop targeted programming and outreach methods to connect with this influential and information-hungry generation. To examine the possibilities, the CH and Master Gardener Professional Interest Group held a workshop on 23 July 2019, in Las Vegas, NV, at the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) annual conference. The workshop first actively engaged participants to build points of connection by discussing nontraditional terminology that resonates with younger audiences. Suggested terminology included plant parent, plant enthusiast, plant babies, apartment-friendly, sustainable, and urban agriculture. After the opening discussion, three presentations explored innovative content, marketing and outreach in the areas of social media, retail promotions, and public gardens. The social media presentation focused on building a two-way partnership with millennials on Instagram that emphasized shared values of sustainability, local foods, and wellness. During the second presentation, the speaker highlighted retail point-of-sale promotions that appeal to younger audiences. The final presentation described creative programming used by botanical gardens to engage younger visitors. A facilitated discussion followed the presentations to identify and evaluate techniques and content that could be incorporated into CH research, teaching, and extension to reach and interact with new millennial audiences. Based on the workshop presentations and the facilitated discussions, the ASHS CH and Master Gardener Professional Interest Group concluded that more CH professionals should engage in social media outreach tailored to the needs and preferences of younger generations. To support this valuable outreach, research of consumer behavior and retail marketing should be encouraged to identify the preferred terminology and subject matter that appeal to millennials. Finally, CH can learn from and partner with public gardens as they implement multidisciplinary programming and exhibitions.