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Rebecca H. Wehry*, Kathleen M. Kelley and Antoinette Bilik

A direct-mail survey was administered to gain perspective of the audio/visual tools Penn State Master Gardeners currently use to teach their clientele and their comfort level with using computers and accessing the Internet. Of the 700 surveys that were distributed to active MG during the month of November 2002, 386 completed surveys were returned. Male MG were more likely to use slides (44%) and less likely to use posters (15%) than female MG to teach consumer clientele (29% and 26%, respectively). Participants from single-adult households (20%) were more likely to use PowerPoint than those from households with two or more adults (11%). A greater percentage of participants, 54 years of age and younger reported having Internet access at their home (90%) and at work (42%) compared to MG age 55 years and older (75% and 16%, respectively). Over half of the younger MG (53%) responded that they were “very comfortable” with using the Internet to search for information compared to 37% of their counterparts. Currently MG use computers as a teaching tool on a limited basis, with younger MG possessing a greater degree of comfort with both the computer and Internet. By teaching MG how to use this technology the ability to reach a large audience can increase, thus further extending the reach of this component of Cooperative Extension. Though use of high tech methods to deliver information is continually gaining momentum, the number of MG who use less technical teaching tools should also be considered and appropriate tools should remain available.

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Rebecca H. Wehry*, Kathleen M. Kelley, Robert D. Berghage and James C. Sellmer

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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Rebecca H. Wehry, Kathleen M. Kelley, Robert D. Berghage and James C. Sellmer

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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Rebecca H. Wehry, Kathleen M. Kelley, Robert D. Berghage and James C. Sellmer

A consumer-research study was conducted in two locations in Pennsylvania utilizing two survey methods: intercept and telephone. This study was designed to assess: 1) what national brand name plant material participants purchased in the past; 2) the consumer's awareness of the Pennsylvania Gardener Selects (PGS) program; and 3) the gardening habits and demographics of Pennsylvania gardeners. The first survey was an intercept survey of 390 self-selected participants who attended Ag Progress Days (APD), a 3-day outdoor educational event and farm implement show from 20-22 Aug. 2002. The second survey was a telephone survey of 500 randomly selected households in the metro-Philadelphia area and was conducted from 20 Aug. through 17 Sept. 2002. Only responses from Pennsylvania gardeners were used in the analysis of the results. A comparison of survey results indicated that metro-Philadelphia-area participants spent more on plant material annually than APD participants, who primarily resided in rural locations. The results showed that metro-Philadelphia-area gardeners tend to live in single-adult households and have one or more children, whereas APD gardeners tend to live in a household with two or more adults and have no children. Eighty-one percent of APD participants and 62% of metro-Philadelphia participants reported that they would be willing to purchase plant material that has been evaluated and chosen as being outstanding for use in all areas of Pennsylvania, a premise for the PGS program.