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  • Author or Editor: Kathleen M. Kelley x
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Three intercept surveys were conducted at the Penn State Southeast Research and Extension Center in Landisville, Pa., at three separate field days during the period of 28 July 2004 to 4 Aug. 2004 to determine grower (n = 78), retailer (n = 52), and consumer (n = 55) preference for annual planters. Survey participants were self-selected and asked to answer questions evaluating both their preference for and past experience with purchasing annual planters, as well as sociographic and demographic questions. Growers who were 45 years of age or younger were more likely to take price into consideration when creating an annual planter (68.8%) than those who were 46 years of age or older (43.3%), but less likely to use point-of-purchase material to educate consumers on proper container care (45.2% and 75.0%, respectively). Additionally, retailers whose business was 89% retail or less were less likely to consider price when creating annual planters (53.3%) than those participants whose business was 90% retail or greater (84.2%), and were also found to be less likely to use point-of-purchase material to educate consumers on proper container care (46.7% and 72.2%, respectively). Consumers were more likely to consider price when purchasing an annual planter if they were female (92.7%) than if they were male (66.7%). Consumer participants who resided in single-family homes were more likely to take the color combination into consideration when purchasing annual planters (100.0%) than those who live in another form of housing (e.g., apartment or mobile home; 66.7%). Additionally, consumers who live in single-adult households were less likely to consider color combination when purchasing an annual planter (88.9%) than those who live in households with two or more adults (100.0%).

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An in-store marketing study was conducted in Fall 2004 to determine consumer demand for fresh, inshell edamame [Glycinemax (L.) Merrill]. Each Wednesday from 1 Sept. to 6 Oct. 2004, thirty 12-ounce plastic clamshells were placed in the produce department of four supermarkets in metro-Philadelphia, Pa. Packaged edamame remained in the supermarkets for 1 week and was replaced with fresh product when the next weekly delivery was made. A sample recipe, a follow-up survey and an addressed, postage-paid reply envelope were attached to the bottom of each clamshell. The survey was used to determine consumer perceptions, interest in Pennsylvania-grown edamame and the criteria they consider when choosing new produce items sold at supermarkets for themselves and their families. Of the 480 clamshells that were delivered, 312 were purchased. The total number of clamshells purchased weekly ranged from 64 to 87, while the number of clamshells purchased weekly at individual stores ranged from 6 to 30. Thirty-three surveys were returned with all participants responding that they had heard of or were familiar with edamame prior to purchasing the container. Of those who responded, 78.8% had purchased edamame before. Based on the total number of packages sold, a potential demand for fresh, inshell edamame exists among consumers in metro-Philadelphia. Results from this study will be used to assist small-acreage growers interested in marketing specialty vegetable crops, such as edamame, to chain supermarkets. By understanding consumer interests, we are able to more effectively determine which type of packaging and promotional materials best attract the attention of potential buyers.

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An Internet survey was conducted from 28 May to 8 June 2008 to investigate consumer awareness and interest in attending programming offered at The Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, PA). The study was designed to investigate what traditional and non-traditional programs might attract community members to the arboretum and to identify potential barriers, perceived or real, that might discourage community members from visiting the arboretum. Among demographic groups, more females were interested in “hands-on workshops” (42.5%) and “fact sheets, instructional bulletins, and how-to guides” (37.4%) than males (26.8% and 26.3%, respectively). In examining events and activities, significant differences were found for “wine tasting and tours” and “outdoor concerts and live performances” based on household income; however, no significant differences were found among age groups and other demographics tested. Differences in interest in other activities were apparent based on number of adults and number of children in the household. Public gardens and arboreta can use this information as the foundation for modifying programs and services offered, though input from the community and trialing of alternative programs should be considered before completely changing programs and services offered.

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Two studies were conducted to better understand arboreta and community members' attitudes toward programming and benefits offered at arboreta and public gardens. The first study, a mail survey sent to arboreta members, included questions regarding what encourage them to become members and the services they value pertaining to their paid membership. The second study, an Internet survey of consumers residing within a 30-mile radius of the arboreta, also focused on interest in leisure activities and interest in traditional, gardening-related programs offered at the arboreta in an effort to understand what might increase membership. Over half of the members (62.5%) responded that they were “completely satisfied,” with only 3.4% selecting “neither dissatisfied nor satisfied” or some level of “dissatisfied.” The top three reasons that motivated members to join the arboretum's association included “benefits offered” (28.2%), followed by providing the “arboretum with financial support” (22.9%), and “to attend horticultural educational programs at a discounted rate” (22.6%). Interest level in gardening appeared to be greater among arboreta members compared with community members, on the basis of the percentage of both groups who self-identified with phrases such as “skilled and knowledgeable” and “enjoys spending time gardening.” Arboreta member interest in garden programming activities differed from those of local community respondents in all categories except “outdoor concerts and live performances,” “wine tasting and tours,” and “painting and drawing.” The one program/activity that appeared to be more of interest to community members than arboreta members was “cooking and entertaining,” with community members returning an average mean rating of 4.77 (1 = “very disinterested,” 7 = “very interested”) and arboreta members returning an average mean rating of 4.29. On the basis of the results of the survey and the strong interest expressed by both survey groups in program activities offered, arboreta staff should consider offering programming that appeals to both current members and community members at large and in an effort to assure a sustainable membership level.

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The Associated Landscape Contractors of America reported in 2004 that the lawn and landscape industry experienced considerable growth during the last 10 years: an increase of 31% from 2002 to 2003, and 126% from 1998 to 2003. An understanding by landscaping professionals of what factors influence consumers' evaluation and selection process when purchasing landscaping services is instrumental in formulating business and marketing plans that will more effectively target new customers, increase the customer base, and ultimately increase profits. To determine these factors, a questionnaire was developed and mailed to 5000 randomly selected households in the metro-Philadelphia area. Recipients were asked to consider factors deemed relevant to the selection and purchase of a landscaping service provider and rank them in order of importance. Questions pertaining to both the landscape industry, such as types of services purchased or how much was spent on these services, and the participants' demographic status were included. A total of 504 completed surveys were received, representing a 10% response rate. Results indicated that the “quality of work” factor was most important, followed by “cost,” and “types of services offered” when analyzed by both the frequency as well as by an average mean ranking of factors. Further analysis of results showed little or no influence on the ordering of factors by independent variables, such as types of service purchased, how much was spent on the service(s), household income, or education levels of the participants.

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Two separate surveys were administered (17–19 Nov. 2008 and 7–10 Apr. 2009) to consumers residing in five metropolitan areas in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States (1710 for Survey 1 and 1518 for Survey 2) to investigate and compare consumer stated preferences toward locally grown and certified organic produce. In Survey 1, participants were asked to indicate whether they agreed that purchasing locally grown produce was more important than purchasing organically grown produce. In addition, they were asked to report whether locally grown and certified organic were factors in their produce purchasing decision. Compared with their counterparts (each demographic examined independently), White/Anglos, Asian Americans, and those aged 25 years and older agreed that purchasing locally grown produce was more important than purchasing organically grown produce. A greater percentage of participants aged 37 years and older (average of 65%) and 66% of White/Anglo participants selected “produce was grown in my local area.” In addition, a greater percentage of participants aged between 21 and 64 years (average of 32%) and 48% of Asian Americans selected “produce was grown using ‘certified’ organic methods,” compared with their counterparts. In Survey 2, participants were presented with six pairwise comparisons and asked to indicate their stated preference between each of the two options, which included combinations of “locally grown,” “not locally grown,” “certified organic,” and “not certified organic.” Stated preference for locally grown produce was highest among the following participant groups (each group examined independently): those aged 37 years and older, White/Anglo participants, those without children living in their household, females, and participants with income levels $25,000 and greater. In addition, stated preference for certified organic was highest among the following groups (again, each group examined independently): those aged between 21 and 36 years; Black/African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic Americans; those with children living in their household; females; and participants with income levels of $25,000 and greater. Produce industry members in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region (e.g., farmers, distributors, retail store owners, restauranteurs, agricultural extension personnel) can incorporate this research into marketing plans, purchasing decisions, or educational or applied research programs as appropriate.

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Consumers were surveyed at the 2004 Philadelphia Flower Show in Philadelphia, Pa. from 8–10 Mar., to quantify their attitudes and behaviors towards invasive plant species and the potential problems associated with purchasing and planting invasives in the landscape. A majority of the 341 participants (81.5%) was aware that non-native exotic plants were used in the landscape and that these plants may be invasive in natural areas. Less than half (40.1%) acknowledged owning plants that were considered invasive, while one-third (33.5%) did not know. Less than half (41.3%) believed that laws should be passed to prevent sale of non-native exotic plants, while 27.8% believed that laws should be passed to allow sale of only native plants in their area. Three distinct consumer segments were identified using cluster analysis: “Invasive savvy,” participants knowledgeable about invasives and interested in alternative species; “Invasive neutral,” participants neutral in their decision to purchasing alternatives to invasive plants and price sensitive in regard to paying more for plants tested for invasiveness; and “Invasive inactive,” participants opposed to purchasing genetically modified plants or those bred to be seedless. Survey results indicated that media sources (e.g., television and newspapers/magazines/books) would be effective for educating consumers about potential problems associated with invasive species in the landscape.

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Two surveys were conducted to determine characteristics important in containerized edible flowers that could be sold in retail outlets. Self-selected participants at Bloomfest at Cobo Hall, Detroit, were assigned to one group that rated the importance of attributes such as color of pansy (Viola ×wittrockiana Gams. `Accord Banner Clear Mixture'), color combinations, container size, and price. Participants assigned to a second group rated color, color combinations, and container size. Flower color was allocated the most points in the purchasing decision (63% for the first group and 95% for the second), with a mixture of all three colors (blue, yellow, and orange) being the most desirable. Responses were subjected to Cluster Analysis (SPSS Inc., Chicago), which resulted in the formation of three distinct groups. The groups were labeled “Likely Buyer” (those who had eaten and purchased edible flowers before and rated characteristics of edible flowers favorably); “Unlikely Consumer” (those who had eaten edible flowers before and had rated characteristics of edible flowers unfavorably); and “Persuadable Garnishers” (those who had not eaten edible flowers before, but were very likely to purchase edible flowers for a meal's garnish).

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Two surveys were conducted to assess consumer and professional chefs' perceptions of three edible-flower species. Our objectives were to determine opinions, preferences, and uses of Viola tricolor L. `Helen Mount' (viola), Borago officinalis L. (borage), and Tropaeolum majus L. `Jewel Mix' (nasturtium). Flowers were grown using certifiable organic methods and chosen to reflect a variety of flower tastes, textures, and appearances. We quantified three attributes (taste, fragrance, and visual appeal) with a total of seven semantic, differential scales adapted from a scaling authority. The attributes were rated as: visual—“appealing”, “desirable,” and “very interested in tasting”; fragrance—“appealing” and “pleasant”; and taste—“tasty” and “desirable”. Garden Day participants were self-selected to evaluate and taste flowers from a consumer perspective. When asked to rate the three species on visual appeal and desire, no less than 76% of consumers awarded all flowers an acceptable rating. We found similar results when consumers answered questions regarding the taste of two of the three species. Results from this study support our hypothesis that customers would rate edible flower attributes highly and would be likely to purchase and serve the three species tested. Members of the Michigan Chefs de Cuisine Association participated in a similar survey. At least 66% of these chefs rated the three visual attributes and two fragrance attributes of viola and nasturtium acceptable. Chefs' ratings of the fragrance of borage as “appealing” and “pleasant” were higher than those of consumers, but the ratings were still low, 21% and 25%, respectively. Unlike consumers, chefs' ratings of the taste of viola as “appealing” and “desirable” were low (29% and 36%, respectively). We found some minor differences in ratings when groups were compared, using demographic variables as a basis for segmentation, indicating a homogenous marketing strategy may be employed.

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Gardeners can provide the best insight to their gardening experiences and interests. In order to identify potential buyers of the state plant promotional program, Pennsylvania Gardener Selects (PGS), an intercept survey with 243 participants was conducted at the Philadelphia Flower Show on 6-7 Mar. 2003. Objectives were to better understand Pennsylvania consumer's: current gardening related shopping habits; where they obtain gardening information; and their motives and limitations for pursing gardening. Responses were analyzed to identify potential consumer segments who might purchase PGS plants. Participants with an income >$50,000 (55%) are more likely to gather their gardening information from a university website than those with an income <$50,000 (39%). Respondents with a college education (59%) reported that time was the limiting factor when gardening as compared to those with only a high school diploma (44%). Survey responses were also analyzed using Cluster Analysis, which generated three distinct consumer segments: “Novice Gardener” (consumers with limited experience in gardening), “Non-Gardener” (consumers who prefer not to garden), and “Avid Gardener” (consumers who spend the majority of their leisure time gardening). “Avid Gardeners” are likely to purchase plants evaluated for Pennsylvania (average response of 6.5; scale 1 to 7) and 73% have purchased Pennsylvania products. They also are more likely to purchase their landscape plant material at local nurseries/garden centers (82%) than the other segments (68%). Based on the results it can be assumed that “Avid Gardener” could be a potential market for PGS plants. A marketing strategy for reaching this audience may consist of promotions at local nurseries/garden centers along side other Pennsylvania-grown products.

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