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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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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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Ariana Torres, Susan S. Barton, and Bridget K. Behe

Little information has been published on the business and marketing practices of landscape firms, an important sector of the green industry. We sought to profile the product mix, advertising, marketing, and other business practices of United States landscape firms and compare them by business type (landscape only, landscape/retail, and landscape/retail/grower) as well as by firm size. We sent the 2014 Trade Flows and Marketing survey to a wide selection of green industry businesses across the country and for the first time included landscape businesses. Herbaceous perennials, shade trees, deciduous shrubs, and flowering bedding plants together accounted for half of all landscape sales; 3/4 of all products were sold in containers. However, landscape only firms sold a higher percentage of deciduous shrubs compared with landscape/retail/grower firms. Landscape businesses diversified their sales methods as they diversified their businesses to include production and retail functions. Landscape businesses spent, on average, 5.6% of sales on advertising, yet large landscape companies spent two to three times the percentage of sales on advertising compared with small- and medium-sized firms. Advertising as a percent of sales was three to four times higher for landscape/retail/grower compared with landscape only or landscape/retail firms; most respondents used Internet advertising as their primary method of advertising. The top three factors influencing price establishment in landscape businesses were plant grade, market demand, and uniqueness of plants, whereas inflation was ranked as the least important of the nine factors provided. A higher percentage of small and medium-sized firms perceived last year’s prices as more important in price establishment compared with large firms. A high percentage of large landscape companies said the ability to hire competent hourly employees was an important factor in business growth and management, but this was true only for about half of the small and medium-sized landscape companies.

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Dru N. Montri, Bridget K. Behe, and Kimberly Chung

Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has pushed to increase the number of farmers markets that accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly known as food stamps) via Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT). However, a small percentage of farmers markets accept SNAP and little is known of the experience of the farmer-vendors who participate in central terminal model EBT programs at farmers markets. The objective of this exploratory study was to elucidate farmers’ attitudes regarding central terminal model EBT programs at selected Michigan farmers markets. This study used qualitative research methods and a case approach. Thirty-two farmers that participated in central terminal model EBT programs at farmers markets were interviewed. Three main themes emerged. First, based on their experiences, farmers expressed a positive attitude toward central terminal model EBT programs at farmers markets. Second, positive attitudes were often associated with the view that market managers had made it easy for farmers to accept EBT benefits and freed them from the administrative burdens of redemption and federal reporting. Third, farmers believed that accepting food assistance benefits attracted new customers to the farmers market thus expanding their customer base. While these results may not be reflective of farmers’ attitudes in other regions, the themes that emerged highlight topics that may be important considerations when making future decisions about the expansion of electronic food assistance programs at farmers markets.

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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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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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Bridget K. Behe, Elizabeth H. Moore, Arthur Cameron, and Forrest S. Carter

The U.S. wholesale market for flowering potted plants, valued at $701 million in 2000, is growing much slower than the $2.1 billion bedding plant market, indicating the product life-cycle of the former may have matured. A mature product yields little profit. Customers who purchase flowering potted plants for indoor enjoyment may have expectations about them, including that plant life is finite and there is no opportunity for outdoor use. Because scientists have discovered how to force selected perennials to flower, marketers may reposition them as indoor flowering potted plants, creating a new product and potentially stimulating sales of this lagging floral category. One method for relating customer perceptions of new products to familiar ones is perceptual mapping, which shows how consumers implicitly categorize products. Defining how consumers perceive the relationships between the selected flowering plants enables marketers to select the best opportunities for product positioning, merchandising, and pricing. We surveyed 200 self-selected visitors at a Michigan flower show in Apr. 2000 to determine their uses for, preferences for, and perceptions of three traditional indoor flowering potted plants and six traditional outdoor perennials. Perceptions were recorded on a seven-point scale. Squared Euclidean distances were calculated to derive the map in which two major dimensions emerged: use (indoor/outdoor) and flower color. Campanula carpatica Jacq. `Blue Clips' and Oxalis crassipes Urb. were mapped centrally, indicating participants had no strong perceptions for how these plants should be used. This suggests that Campanula and Oxalis have the greatest potential to be positioned for dual indoor and outdoor enjoyment, which may also yield some enhanced profitability.

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Jennifer H. Dennis, Bridget K. Behe*, R. Thomas Fernandez, and Robert Schutzki

Consumers face risks each time they purchase and consume products. Guarantees provide a means of potentially decreasing risk for products that cannot be evaluated until consumption has begun, as with ornamental plants. Despite the potential risk reduction, the effect of guarantees on consumer purchases has been a source of debate for many retailers. Research conducted at Michigan State Univ. examined the effects of guarantees on consumer satisfaction and regret of three horticultural products: hanging baskets, potted roses, and perennials. Over half (56%) of respondents stated the retail outlet provided a guarantee. Twenty-six percent stated the guarantee was a deciding factor in choosing that particular plant while 27% stated it was the deciding factor in shopping at that particular retail location. Results show that guarantees reduce risk for consumers, reducing the incidence of regret but have no effect on customer satisfaction.

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Jennifer H. Dennis*, Bridget K. Behe, Thomas J. Page Jr., and Richard A. Spreng

Michigan State Univ. researchers surveyed 777 gardening consumers in an Internet survey on 24 Sept. 2003 to determine consumer perceptions of satisfaction, dissatisfaction, and regret of three horticultural products: hanging baskets, potted roses, and 1 gallon perennials. Consumer satisfaction has been studied in a horticultural context before, however, to our knowledge this is the first time emotion research, specifically regret, has been applied in a horticultural setting. Regret is an emotion experienced from a negative valenced reaction to an event such as a dead or dying plant. Consumer satisfaction/dissatisfaction is a state of being derived from the expectation and performance of a particular product. Based on work from a doctoral dissertation, the objective was to investigate the behavioral consequences associated when gardening consumers experienced dissatisfaction or regret toward these three products. Questions were asked to pinpoint levels of dissatisfaction and regret and whether they switched from the product based on feelings of dissatisfaction and regret. About 27% (202) of respondents expressed some level of dissatisfaction or regret about the products specified in the survey. Results show regret drives switching behavior and those that experienced regret with their products were more likely to switch. Approximately 10% of gardening consumers switched to another activity outside of gardening because of failure of the plant purchased to perform where as 13.5% switched to another type of plant to remedy the situation. Regret has been shown to strongly influence repurchase behavior based on being an emotion. Results also indicate although dissatisfaction is unfortunate, it does not have the same effect on switching behavior.