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  • Author or Editor: Bridget K. Behe* x
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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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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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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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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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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.

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The objectives of this study were to survey Midwest consumers to assess their willingness to buy alternatives to Impatiens walleriana given the confirmed presence of Impatiens downy mildew (IDM; Plasmopara obducens) in Michigan landscapes in 2012. An Internet survey queried consumers from four states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio) and questions consisted of likelihood to buy, purchasing characteristics considered, impatiens purchases in 2012, and demographic questions. Roughly 500 participants per state responded and almost three-fourths (73.8%) of respondents said they planted impatiens in their landscape in 2012. Of the 16.4% who said their plants did not look healthy at the end of the growing season, 69.3% self-identified the plant as having IDM symptoms. Purchasing characteristics that had the highest mean scores were bloom period, flower color, and longevity, whereas the lowest mean scores were for compact shape with no spindly growth, fragrance, and locally grown. Three impatiens alternative species were acceptable alternatives (scored a positive utility in the conjoint analysis) for shade-tolerant species. Begonia semperflorens was the most preferred followed by Browallia speciosa and then Impatiens hawkeri. Solenostemon scutellarioides was the least preferred. Three impatiens alternative species also scored a positive utility in the conjoint analysis and would serve well for partial shade-tolerant species. Heliotropium arborescens was the most preferred followed by Salvia splendens and then Lobelia erinus. Hypoestes phyllostachya and Iresine herbstii were preferred least as impatiens alternatives. The attribute with the highest relative importance was species for both conjoint analyses, whereas the price attribute was the least important.

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The retail portion of the green industry, valued at $50.55 billion, continues to provide a major connection between the industry and consumers. Given the importance of retailers in the green industry and little research exists that documents their advertising practices and impacts, the 2013 Trade Flows and Marketing Practices survey included questions to capture data for retail-only firms. This paper reports on the percentage of sales retailers allocate to promotion and advertising, including a breakdown of media used; point-of-sale (POS) materials and how they are acquired; how green industry retailers are using social media and mobile marketing [in particular, quick response (QR) codes]; the methods retailers use to collect customer demographics; customer loyalty programs (CLP); and how they are managed by retailers and a comparison of retail firms’ advertising practices by size of firm. A combination of mailed and Internet-distributed surveys resulted in a total of 699 useable retail business responses with greater than or equal to $1000 in annual revenue. The median expenditure as a percentage of sales on advertising was 3.6% for all retail firms responding with 33.7% spending no dollars on advertising. In examining the distribution based on media type, the Internet was the most frequently listed by firms (32.3%) with a mean expenditure of 42.5% of total advertising dollars. Social media was listed second most frequently (21.5%) with a mean expenditure of 29.6%. Newspapers were listed as the third most frequently used type of media (18.0%). Social media use is strong and among social media platforms, Facebook (60%) far exceeds any other platform. A third of the respondents (34.2%) reported the use of POS materials. A very small percentage of firms (3.0%) reported using QR codes and 19.4% reported having a CLP. Of those, 45.8% used customer purchase cards, whereas 35.4% used POS software. Nearly 33% of the firms collected demographic information about their customers. Of those, the method with the highest percentage use (multiple responses were permitted) was social media (50.7%) followed by CLP (48.9%), web visits (34.5%), questionnaires (15.7%), social coupons (13.5%), census data (3.9%), and marketing firms (3.1%). There were firm-size differences in seasonal employees and mean sales per employee with large firms having greater numbers than hobby, small- or medium-sized firms. There were no differences in the percentage of advertising media allocations based on firm size, but large firms used web visits, social coupons, and social media more than other types of firms to collect customer demographics. While, green industry retailers are currently using social media for marketing green industry goods, they have much more opportunity to use electronic media for CLPs and to begin using QR codes or other mobile-centric technologies to deliver in-store promotional information to consumers.

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