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  • Author or Editor: Kathleen M. Kelley x
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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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Do consumers prefer certain combinations of edible-flower species and colors over other assortments? Two hundred and sixteen people were self-selected for a survey at a Michigan flower show to rate 15 photographs of edible flowers arranged in 0.24-L, clear, plastic containers. Each container had either an individual species or combinations of Viola tricolor L. `Helen Mount' (viola), Borago officinalis L. (borage), and Tropaeolum majus L. `Jewel Mix' and `Tip Top Apricot' (nasturtium). To determine what color(s) of nasturtium participants would prefer, containers held either orange and crimson, peach and cream, or a combination of all four flower colors. Participants rated photographs using a semantic differential on a 7-point Likert scale (7 being the highest rating) based on their likelihood to purchase each container of edible flowers to serve to family and friends in a meal. Participants were asked an additional 21 questions regarding their attitudes about edible flowers, gardening habits, dining habits, and several demographic questions. Responses were subjected to conjoint analysis (SPSS Inc., Chicago). The addition of other species to nasturtium (viola, borage, viola, and borage) had a greater relative importance (53%) than the color of the nasturtium (47%). A mixture of all four nasturtium colors (peach, cream, orange, and crimson) was awarded the highest utility (0.091). Peach and cream nasturtiums or containers that did not contain any nasturtium flowers at all were least preferred (-0.070 and -0.083 utilities, respectively). Mean ratings that participants assigned to containers of edible flowers supported these utilities. The container assigned the highest mean rating included nasturtiums of all four colors, yet 66% were unlikely to purchase any container with 10% insect damage. Differences in preferences were noted using selected demographic characteristics such as age, gender, and income.

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Two separate studies using intercept survey methodology were conducted to define the components of a state plant promotional program—Pennsylvania Gardener Selects (PGS)—based on consumer preference and appeal. The first study, conducted 6 and 7 Mar. 2003 at the Philadelphia Flower Show in Philadelphia, Pa., involved 243 Pennsylvanians. Objectives were to define current gardening-related shopping habits, sources of gardening information, motives and limitations for pursuing gardening, and history of purchasing other Pennsylvania products. Responses were analyzed using cluster analysis to identify consumer–gardener segments that would potentially purchase PGS plants. Three distinct consumer segments were generated: “Novice Gardeners” (consumers with limited experience in gardening), “Casual Gardeners” (consumers with limited confidence in their gardening knowledge), and “Avid Gardeners” (consumers who express great interest in gardening). “Avid Gardeners” exhibited a greater level of interest in purchasing plants evaluated for Pennsylvania (average response, 6.5; based on a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 is very unlikely and 7 is very likely), with 73% indicating that they had purchased Pennsylvania products; hence, they were a potential market for PGS plants. The second study, conducted 8 to 10 Mar. 2004 at the Philadelphia Flower Show involved 250 Pennsylvanians. Objectives for this study were to define consumer brand and product preferences, including container colors for the PGS program, plant tag style/color, and retail price (based on a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 is very unlikely to purchase and 7 is very likely to purchase), as well as brand attributes these consumers valued. Responses were analyzed using conjoint analysis. Participants awarded the highest utilities to the white container with a black-and-white PGS logo (0.1149), keystone-shaped tag with color image and PGS logo (0.1099), and a retail price of $1.98 (0.4751). Spearman's rho was used to identify relationships among existing and related brand attributes. Correlations between participants’ response to brand attributes, including locally grown, ideal for local conditions, quality assurance, and independent testing program, as well as plant guarantee and publication with gardening tips, suggest that promotional materials should emphasize and include these qualities. Results from these studies indicate that there is interest in a state plant promotional program for Pennsylvania. To use resources wisely, consumers classified as “Avid Gardeners” would be the most appropriate to target first. To attract consumer attention and encourage purchasing at a retail outlet, containers and plant tags should have distinctive colors, and brand attributes and resulting consumer benefits should be emphasized on promotional materials.

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An aging American population may be less willing than a younger population to install and remove a live, fresh-cut evergreen tree in their home for Christmas celebrations. An alternative to using traditional, large, fresh-cut or potted Christmas trees could be forcing these evergreen species in a small (≈1-L) container that could be displayed on a tabletop. We initiated this study to determine consumer preferences and marketability for six evergreen tree species produced for tabletop display and used three decoration themes and three price points. We constructed a web-based survey in which 331 participants were compensated with a $5 e-coupon for viewing 27 photographs of tabletop trees and providing preference and use information. The conjoint model accounted for 91.2% of the variance and showed that consumers valued tree species as the most important attribute (61% of the tree value), with decoration color/theme the second most important feature (27%) and, last, price (12%). Black Hills spruce (Picea glauca var. densata (Moench) Voss) was the most preferred species overall, and red was the most preferred decoration theme. Logically, the lowest price point was the most preferred. However, price was the most important attribute for participants younger than 25 years. The importance of price decreased as participant age increased until age 60, when price became a more important component. With a cost of production of $5.45 and decoration and shipping estimated at an additional $4.00, the product could be a profit generator priced at any of the tested price points ($14.95 and above).

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