Consumers are very heterogeneous and it is challenging to determine specific product attributes that impact their purchasing choices. To investigate consumer behavior regarding horticultural products, I conducted two experiments: 1) Consumers preferences for longevity information and guarantees on cut flower arrangements, and 2) Does visual attention to product attributes on minimally processed horticultural products impact consumers' preferences? For the cut flower arrangement study an internet choice experiment was conducted in 2011. Significant variation was found in consumers' willingness to pay (WTP) for differing longevity lengths and guarantees. Specifically, participants were more likely to select and pay premiums for cut flower arrangements with longer vase life longevity and a guarantee. Using Ward's linkage cluster analysis, three distinct consumer clusters were developed: guarantee seekers, value conscious consumers, and spenders. Forty-nine percent of participants were guarantee seekers, 31% were value conscious consumers, and 20% were spenders. Guarantee seekers preferred guarantees on the cut flower arrangements. Value conscious consumers were interested in both guarantees and longevity indicators. Spenders were the least interested in longevity indicators and guarantees. We conclude floral retailers could use longevity indicators and guarantees to attract consumers, improve consumer confidence, and generate profits. Floral retailers could also develop target marketing strategies to attract different consumer clusters. In the minimally processed horticultural products study, an experimental auction and eye-tracking analysis were combined to examine consumer preferences and WTP. Differences were found between production methods, origin, and nutrient content claim content. Consumers' preferences and WTP were product specific. Additionally, there was a correlation between visual attention and consumers' WTP. More fixations on attributes participants' valued resulted in greater WTP. Conversely, more fixations on attributes participants' did not value resulted in a discounted WTP. We conclude producers and industry associations could benefit from exploring the potential of producing products with the attributes commanding greater premiums. Additionally, retailers could benefit from using in-store promotions to improve the visibility of the premium generating attributes.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation.February 2014. Major: Applied Plant Sciences. Advisor: Chengyan Yue. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 111 pages.
Improving the Marketability of Horticultural Products: Communicating to the Consumer.
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