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Survey Reveals Consumer Awareness, Willingness-to-Pay For Texas Ornamental Brands

January 18, 2011

Researchers provide marketing recommendations for Texas green industry

In 1989 the Texas A&M University Agricultural Program, in conjunction with other state and private collaborators, developed the Texas Superstar® program. The Earth-Kind® rose program followed in 1996. These plant promotion programs were designed to increase the demand for selected horticultural products, raise awareness among consumers of Texas-grown plant material, promote environmental responsibility, and increase producers’ profitability by providing branding price premiums.

According to a study from Texas A&M University researchers Alba J. Collart, Marco A. Palma and Charles R. Hall published in HortScience, both of these promotional and educational programs have been in the market for years, but researchers have not investigated the effectiveness of the branding efforts in terms of consumer behavior. “Indicators of consumer awareness (i.e., sales statistics) have been recorded, but no emphasis has been given to consumers’ brand awareness or consumers’ willingness-to-pay for Texas Superstar® and Earth-Kind® plant materials”, Collart noted.To collect data regarding consumers’ perceptions of branding efforts and willingness-to-pay (WTP), the researchers designed an electronic mail survey. The survey was divided into four major categories to measure consumers’ behavioral and demographic variables. Survey results revealed that Texas consumers had “low awareness” of the Texas Superstar® and Earth-Kind® brands, but found a high level of satisfaction among “aware consumers”. Other national private brands had also low awareness among respondents.

Consumers who were more likely to be aware of programs such as Texas Superstar® and Earth-Kind® were those who shop frequently (weekly or monthly) for ornamental plants. Interestingly, respondents who were up to five times more likely to be aware of Earth- Kind® included those who lived in South Texas (Coastal Bend and South District). Consumers who shopped for self-consumption purposes said they were willing to pay a discounted price for Texas Superstar® and Earth-Kind® plants compared with unbranded plants, and respondents who were previously aware of the brands were willing to pay more. “The two brands were effective in differentiating their products and thus creating price premiums. It was estimated that the willingness-to-pay for the two brands (for the average respondent) was 10% higher than the willingness-to-pay for an unbranded plant”, explained the researchers.

The survey results suggested that marketing programs might not be effectively reaching some demographic groups, including female consumers and those between 40 and 55 years old for the Texas Superstar® brand, and consumers in the same age group with an income of $50,000 or more for the Earth-Kind® program. The researchers recommended that marketing efforts should target those groups of consumers with higher willingness-to-pay, or those with “higher odds of awareness”.

The study also noted that consumers’ “regularity of purchase” could be achieved through promotional tactics modeled on successful marketing campaigns from other states that have proven to increase consumers’ frequency of purchasing ornamentals.

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