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Bridget Behe and Susan Barton

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.

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Bridget K. Behe

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.

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Bridget K. Behe

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Bridget K. Behe

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.

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Chengyan Yue and Bridget K. Behe

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.

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Chengyan Yue and Bridget K. Behe

Competition among floral retailers has promulgated industrywide structural changes while giving consumers more choices in locations for purchase. Consumer panel data collected by the American Floral Endowment from 1992 to 2005 were used to evaluate consumers' choice of different floral retail outlets among box stores (BS), traditional freestanding floral outlets (TF), general retailer (GR), other stores (OS), and direct-to-consumer (DC) channels. Since 1992, market share and percentage of transactions decreased through TF but increased for BS. Mean expenditure per transaction in TF was higher than in BS and GR. Consumers who made floral gift purchases were more likely to patronize TF, but those who bought floral products for themselves were more likely to purchase from BS. Consumers patronizing TF or DC were more likely to buy arranged flowers rather than unarranged flowers. Consumers who purchased foliage plants and outdoor bedding or garden plants were more likely to buy them from BS. Reasons consumers who choose BS and GR cited for using those outlets included convenience and lower prices, whereas consumers who purchased from TF and DC cited delivery, reputation, and service as major drivers impacting their use. Demographic and geographic differences were also identified among consumers using the aforementioned outlets.

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Bridget K. Behe and Dennis J. Wolnick

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.

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Bridget K. Behe and Dennis J. Wolnick

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.

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Jennifer H. Dennis and Bridget K. Behe

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.