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Jennifer H. Dennis and Bridget K. Behe

In Sept. 2004, an Internet study was conducted to evaluate and determine differences in gardening participation, purchases, and levels of satisfaction and regret by ethnic background. Consumers were asked to identify their participation in seven gardening activities and about the purchase of 12 gardening product categories. The sample was stratified by income and age. The number of differences in garden-related activity participation and purchases decreased as income level increased across ethnic groups. At every income level, persons of Caucasian descent had a higher satisfaction average score and factor score and higher regret mean score and factor score. This indicated that Caucasians did experience greater satisfaction and less regret than persons of other ethnic backgrounds, regardless of income. For marketers, this shows a heterogeneous market at lower-income levels and a more homogeneous market at upper-income levels. Ethnicity could be used as a basis for market segmentation, and differences are indeed present.

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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.

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Christa Hofmann, Jennifer H. Dennis, and Maria Marshall

Nationally, the number of operating farmers' markets has increased 111% from 1755 markets in 1994 to 3706 in 2004. Indiana's farmers' markets have increased at double the rate in the same timeframe. An Internet and mail census was sent to market managers to assess operational procedures and factors that influence customer and vendor participation in the market. A two-stage least squares model was estimated for the vendor and customer model. Paying fees and the number of customers present were the two variables that had a significant, positive influence on vendor participation. The presence of WIC, number of products available, the absence or presence of live music, absence or presence of cooking demonstrations, and number of vendors were significant for the customer model. The absence or presence of concession stands and picnic areas was significant at the 0.10 level in the customer model.

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Jennifer R. DeEll, H.P. Vasantha Rupasinghe, and Dennis P. Murr

`Cortland' is an apple cultivar with inherent poor storeability because of excessive vulnerability to the development of superficial scald in long-term storage. The objectives of this investigation were to evaluate the potential of the potent ethylene action inhibitor 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP; EthylBloc®) to counteract this constraint and to develop some basic procedures for its exposure. Eight hours after harvest, fruit were exposed to 1.0 mL·L–1 1-MCP for 0, 3, 6, 9, 12, 16, 24, or 48 h at 3, 13, or 23 °C. Following exposure, fruit were placed at 0 to 1 °C in air for 120 days, after which time they were removed to 20 °C and held 7 days for post-storage assessment of ripening and to allow development of physiological disorders. In general, and within our experimental limits, the higher the temperature of 1-MCP exposure the shorter the required exposure time to obtain similar effects. The desired effectiveness of 1-MCP could be achieved by exposing fruit for at least 3 h at 23 °C, for 6 h at 13 °C, or for 9 h at 3 °C. 1-MCP-treated apples were consistently 2 kg firmer than untreated apples. Scald incidence in untreated fruit after 120 days at 0 to 1 °C and 7 days at 20 °C was 100%, whereas 1-MCP reduced scald by 95% in treatments of long enough duration at any particular temperature.

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Alan W. Hodges, Charles R. Hall, Bridget K. Behe, and Jennifer H. Dennis

The National Nursery Survey has been conducted four times at 5-year intervals (1988, 1993, 1998, and 2003) by a multistate research committee on economics and marketing to help fill the void of publicly available information on management characteristics of the nursery industry. For the first time in 2003, the National Nursery Survey was conducted using a standard sampling methodology with 15,588 total firms representing 44 states. The objective of this study was to provide a regional analysis of nursery production practices, because production practices and technology use may differ across regions in response to varying economic and environmental conditions. From analysis of the 2485 returned surveys, firms in the northern and interior regions of the country with more seasonal activity made greater use of temporary labor. Containerized growing systems were the predominant system throughout the United States; however, firms in the Southeast, South Central, and Pacific coast regions used this system to a greater degree, whereas firms in other regions also commonly used bare root and balled and burlapped systems. Nurseries in the Southeast region, with a warmer climate, used Integrated Pest Management practices more prevalently. Most regions had a significant share of total production from native American plants, approaching or exceeding 20% of total sales, except the Pacific region. In some regions, forward-contracting accounted for a significantly higher share of total sales, perhaps indicating greater aversion to market risk. The Mountain region stood out for its high level of adoption of computer technologies for production, marketing, and management. Data on water use and irrigation technology did not indicate any clear pattern with respect to regional differences in relation to water scarcity.

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Tanya J. Hall, Roberto G. Lopez, Maria I. Marshall, and Jennifer H. Dennis

In recent years, the commercial greenhouse industry has begun to implement sustainable production practices. However, floriculture certification programs for sustainable production practices are a relatively new phenomenon in the United States. Between July and Oct. 2008, a commercial floriculture grower survey was conducted to determine potential barriers to sustainable floriculture certification. Using a logistic regression model, seven potential areas were evaluated: risk, profitability, economic viability, prior experience, education, operation size, and customer types. Although respondents had positive attitudes toward sustainability and had adopted sustainable practices, respondents had little knowledge and interest in U.S. certification.

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Bridget K. Behe, Benjamin L. Campbell, Charles R. Hall, Hayk Khachatryan, Jennifer H. Dennis, and Chengyan Yue

Some consumers are becoming more interested in and purchasing products that are locally grown and/or ecologically friendly. Market segmentation and product targeting are efficient methods to allocate a firm’s scarce marketing resources to supply heterogeneous markets. This study’s objective was to identify consumer segments, focusing on their gardening purchases, to determine whether there were differences in consumer preferences for provenance and environmental attributes for transplant purchases. Using a consumer survey of U.S. and Canadian consumers, we found that participants who purchased different plant types had distinct preferences for varying environmental attributes and provenances. We profiled nine consumer segments, identifying their plant purchases and preferences for local and sustainably grown products and plant containers. Results provide plant producers and retailers with market segments that can be identified and targeted and provide a basis for customizable marketing communications to enhance profits.

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Bridget K. Behe, Benjamin L. Campbell, Charles R. Hall, Hayk Khachatryan, Jennifer H. Dennis, and Chengyan Yue

Information plays a vital role in the purchase decisions of retail lawn and garden consumers. Consumers have readily adopted personal computers and Internet technology as a way of seeking information and/or making purchases online. However, the extent to which horticultural consumers specifically seek information and make purchases online is not well documented. Our interests for this project were driven by an interest in the impact of smartphone ownership and Internet search behavior on product purchasing related to gardening products and items and how search and purchase were similar to (or different from) non-gardening information and products. Given the sharp rise in the use of smartphones and mobile media use, we explored differences among online shoppers, specifically those who had searched online for gardening information with those who were online for other purposes. We found differences between those who had searched online for non-gardening information compared with those who had searched online for gardening information. Women were more likely to search online for both gardening and non-gardening information, but men were more likely to make online gardening purchases. Education level, ethnicity, and geographic location of residence had varying impacts on the likelihood of online search and purchase. Having searched online for non-gardening information increased the likelihood of an online purchase by 16%, whereas the likelihood of purchase increased to 19% for online gardening-related searches.

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H.P. Vasantha Rupasinghe, Dennis P. Murr, Jennifer R. DeEll, and Murray D. Porteous

Flesh softening is a major quality parameter that can limit long-term storage of apple cultivars. This study investigated the combined effects of preharvest AVG (Retain™) application, 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP; EthylBloc™) exposure at harvest, and commercial controlled atmosphere (CA) storage (2.0% O2 + 2.5% CO2) on flesh softening of `Empire' apple. Treatments were assigned in a split-split-plot experimental design; AVG and no AVG application as the main-plot, CA and air storage as the sub-plots, and 0, 0.1 0.5, 1.0 mL·L–1 1-MCP as the sub-sub-plots. Apples were removed from storage at 70 and 140 days after harvest and kept up to an additional 2 weeks at 20 °C for post-storage assessment of ripening. Preharvest AVG application of `Empire' fruit delayed maturation slightly as determined by starch index at harvest, but did not affect fruit size at harvest nor flesh softening in storage. All levels of 1-MCP were equally effective in controlling fruit softening both in air and CA, as 1-MCP-treated fruit were ≈2.5 kg firmer than untreated fruit. This firmness advantage was still evident even after 2 weeks at 20 °C, with CA-stored fruit holding their firmness the best. When all three technologies were combined, treated fruit were overall 156% firmer than control fruit (no AVG, no 1-MCP, air-stored). As well, ethylene production and emanation of aroma volatiles were reduced significantly in these fruit. Therefore, the synergism of AVG, 1-MCP and long-term CA storage could potentially hold flesh firmness and other ripening parameters of apples to values near those found at harvest.

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Tanya J. Hall, Jennifer H. Dennis, Roberto G. Lopez, and Maria I. Marshall

In June to Oct. 2008, a U.S. floriculture survey was conducted to examine the factors affecting growers' willingness to adopt sustainable practices. The factors affecting adoption of sustainable practices were evaluated in five areas: environmental regulations, customer value, growers' attitudes toward sustainability, age, and operation size. A logistic regression model was used to examine factors affecting growers' adoption of sustainable practices. Nearly two-thirds (65.2%) of respondents thought sustainability was very important to the environment. Similarly, more than half (63%) of the respondents had sustainable practices in their operations. Although respondents had positive attitudes toward sustainability and the environment, these positive attitudes alone were unable to predict adoption behaviors. The two most important factors that affected adoption of sustainable practices were the concerns about implementation and the risk perceived by growers. Neither perceived customer value nor the stringency of state regulations affected the adoption of sustainable practices. The results from this study provide original insight into growers' views of sustainability and identify the educational assistance needed by growers to overcome the factors affecting their adoption of sustainable practices.