Consumer Perceptions Of Sustainably Produced Poinsettias

Consumer Perceptions Of Sustainably Produced Poinsettias

Greenhouse growers across the United States continuously hear the word “sustainability” and often speculate whether this is another marketing program or a consumer-driven initiative that must be put into practice for their continued economic success in a very competitive environment. Most growers, however, have not heard of Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS). Have you?

This is an emerging market segment that is focused on health and fitness, the environment, personal development, sustainable living and social justice. The LOHAS market represents 41 million people in the United States who spend $209 billion annually on socially and environmentally responsible products. If this segment of the population is purchasing environmentally friendly products, are they interested in locally, organically or sustainably produced poinsettias?

Figure 1. This grower promotes
crops as locally grown.

The Research

Previous Purdue research has shown 96 percent of greenhouse growers had heard of sustainable floriculture and the majority viewed sustainable practices as “very important” to the environment (OFA bulletin, July 2009).

The objective of this study was to determine consumer knowledge of the term “sustainability” and how it relates to floriculture crops such as poinsettia. We were also interested in identifying factors affecting consumer willingness to pay a premium price for sustainably produced poinsettias.

Last December, the public was invited to attend the 2008 National Poinsettia Cultivar Trial Consumer Open House at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. The National Poinsettia Trials have been held at the University of Florida, North Carolina State University and Purdue University for the past two decades.

This, however, was the first time the consumer event was held on the Purdue campus. Individuals attending the event were asked to participate in an anonymous short survey intended to help determine consumer interest in purchasing environmentally friendly plants.

The average age group for consumers in this study was between 20 and 30 years old (29 percent). The sample was predominantly female (57 percent), college graduates (25 percent) and Caucasian Americans (81 percent).tia options because of personal monetary concerns and the current economic downturn. However, this percentage is consistent with past research from a non-floriculture study that shows consumers were willing to pay up to 20 percent for environmentally friendly products. Given a crop with such low profitability, marketing the sustainable plant attributes may be one low-cost way to stimulate sales if not modestly increase profits.

Figure 2. The sustainably produced poinsettias were grown at Purdue
University in an energy-efficient greenhouse in 6-inch compostable rice
hull Circle of Life pots (Ball Horticulture, West Chicago, Ill.) filled with
a commercial soilless medium composed of sphagnum peat and rice
hulls (Fafard 1PRH, Agawam, Mass.). The crop was fertigated as
necessary with a waste-derived fertilizer
(Daniel’s 10-4-3 Professional; DP Foods, LLC, Sherman, Texas)
and reduced chemical inputs.

Consumers were also asked if they would be willing to pay more for the sustainably produced poinsettia plants than the conventionally produced poinsettia plants on display at the open house (Figure 2). A point-of-purchase poster was placed next to these plants which indicated the plants were “environmentally friendly” because they were grown in compostable pots, with sustainable fertilizers, alternative media components and in energy-efficient greenhouses.

The top four reasons why respondents were willing to pay more for the sustainably produced poinsettias were (1) they were grown in an energy-efficient greenhouse, (2) grown in compostable pots, (3) grown with reduced pesticides and (4) of high quality.

From the preliminary results of our survey, we found consumers in Indiana felt the current “green, sustainable and earth-friendly” movement is not just a fad, but will actually help the environment. To a commercial greenhouse operation, sustainably produced flowers can be a new niche or specialty crop market that may lead to increased profits and thus lead to economic and environmental sustainability. Growers should consider adding one or two sustainable production attributes to their poinsettia promotions such as the use of alternative container materials, local production or the use of reduced pesticides to displays, advertisements and other communication materials. Providing this potentially value-adding information to consumers at little or no additional cost should be considered when marketing your poinsettias crop.

Defining Sustainability

Of the 112 respondents, 81 percent indicated they had heard of the term “sustainability.” Although a majority had heard the term, we received 23 different definitions for sustainability. Still, there was a consensus on a few things.

One group of consumers believes sustainability means environmentally responsible and a concern about the earth and its resources. To others, it’s a term that describes a profitable business that produces high-quality products using environmentally friendly practices. Yet, other consumers felt sustainability referred to a product or plant that can survive without additional resources.

Table 1. Survey participants were asked how interested they would be in purchasing the following poinsettia types.
Poinsettia Type Likert Scale Rating
Conventionally produced poinsettia (with chemical inputs) 3.68
Sustainably produced poinsettia (with reduced chemical inputs) 5.09

Organically produced poinsettia (without chemical inputs)

5.16
Locally produced poinsettia 5.83
Poinsettia grown with organic fertilizers 5.12
Poinsettia grown in energy-efficient greenhouses 5.64
Poinsettia grown in biodegradable or compostable pot 5.79

Most individuals indicated the best reason to purchase an environmentally friendly or sustainably produced poinsettia was that it would make them feel better about reducing their environmental footprint. Secondly, it would reduce exposure to chemicals in their homes.

Are Consumers Interested?

Using a Likert scale ranging from 1 to 7, (1 being lowest interest and 7 being highest) consumers were asked to rate how interested they would be in purchasing locally, conventionally, sustainably or organically produced poinsettias (Table 1). They were also asked to rate how likely they would be to purchase a poinsettia if it was grown with organic fertilizers, in an energy-efficient greenhouse or in biodegradable or compostable pots.

On average, our participants said they would be least likely to purchase a poinsettia conventionally produced with chemical inputs (3.68). Interestingly, locally produced poinsettias received the highest rating of 5.83. These findings are similar to what we often see with other agricultural products. Consumers are more interested in locally grown.

Yet, few commercial greenhouses market this attribute (Figure 1). The majority of the other plant purchase options were rated above 5 on the Likert scale, meaning consumers also have a high interest in purchasing these types of plants.

Table 2. Greatest price increase (if any) that consumers would be willing to pay for the listed types of poinsettia.
 

Would not buy

Would pay
the same
Up to
15% more
Up to 30% to
100% more

Ordinary or conventionally produced

   X    
Organically produced     X  
Produced with
organic fertilizer
    X  
Grown in biodegradable
or compostable pots
    X  
Grown without
chemical inputs
    X  
Grown locally     X  
Grown in an energy-efficient greenhouse     X  

We used a 0 (would not buy) to 8 (would pay up to 100 percent more) Likert scale to determine the greatest price increase (if any) consumers said they would be willing to pay for the listed types of poinsettias in table 2. An “X” represents the average response of the consumers (Table 2). Even though there were a few individuals who were willing to pay much more for each of the plant types in our survey, on average the respondents in this survey were not willing to pay more than 15 percent above the current price for any of the poinsettia options. Many consumers stated they were not willing to pay more for the environmentally friendly poinsettia options because of personal monetary concerns and the current economic downturn. However, this percentage is consistent with past research from a non-floriculture study that shows consumers were willing to pay up to 20 percent for environmentally friendly products. Given a crop with such low profitability, marketing the sustainable plant attributes may be one low-cost way to stimulate sales if not modestly increase profits.

 

Consumers were also asked if they would be willing to pay more for the sustainably produced poinsettia plants than the conventionally produced poinsettia plants on display at the open house (Figure 2). A point-of-purchase poster was placed next to these plants which indicated the plants were “environmentally friendly” because they were grown in compostable pots, with sustainable fertilizers, alternative media components and in energy-efficient greenhouses.

The top four reasons why respondents were willing to pay more for the sustainably produced poinsettias were (1) they were grown in an energy-efficient greenhouse, (2) grown in compostable pots, (3) grown with reduced pesticides and (4) of high quality.

From the preliminary results of our survey, we found consumers in Indiana felt the current “green, sustainable and earth-friendly” movement is not just a fad, but will actually help the environment. To a commercial greenhouse operation, sustainably produced flowers can be a new niche or specialty crop market that may lead to increased profits and thus lead to economic and environmental sustainability. Growers should consider adding one or two sustainable production attributes to their poinsettia promotions such as the use of alternative container materials, local production or the use of reduced pesticides to displays, advertisements and other communication materials. Providing this potentially value-adding information to consumers at little or no additional cost should be considered when marketing your poinsettias crop.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

More From Blooming Potted Plants...
Terra Nova Shipping Box

July 20, 2017

Terra Nova Nurseries, Dümmen Orange to Partner on Unrooted Cuttings Production

Terra Nova Nurseries has contracted with Dümmen Orange to produce unrooted cuttings (URCs) from Terra Nova private stock located at Dümmen Orange’s Central America facilities. The URCs will fulfill orders in North America and Europe.

Read More

July 20, 2017

New Perennials, Trial Gardens, and Merchandising Were Highlights of Darwin Perennials Day 2017

Darwin Perennials Day has steadily become one of the must-attend perennial events of the summer. This year, even the weather cooperated.

Read More
2018 Ball Seed Catalog

July 17, 2017

Ball Seed’s 2018 New Varieties Catalog Now Available

The expanded guide includes breakthrough breeding from Ball in annuals, perennials, vegetables, potted plants, and more.

Read More
Latest Stories
Cyclamen Allure

March 28, 2017

Blooming Potted Plants for 2018 From California Spring …

We asked breeders to give you a peek at some of the great blooming potted plants they’re introducing this year at California Spring Trials. These new varieties will show up on the retail market in 2018.

Read More
Poinsettia 'Christmas Joy Marble'

February 20, 2017

5 New Varieties Shaking Up the Poinsettia Tradition

With poinsettias trending toward non-traditional colors, growers may find new opportunities to spread sales beyond the winter holidays. Here are five of the newest euphorbia varieties to hit the market that may play a role in redefining the future of the poinsettia market.

Read More
Euphorbia 'Gold Rush'

February 8, 2017

5 Ways to Tie Poinsettias to Lifestyle Trends for Incre…

With poinsettia planning upon us, here are a few ideas to incorporate them into upcoming lifestyle and home décor trends to help increase sales.

Read More
santos flare

December 20, 2016

Ball Horticultural Expands Potted Plant Offerings With …

Ex-Plant, which specializes in potted plants, will become a part of Ball’s PanAmerican Seed division.

Read More

December 16, 2016

Please Take Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Poinsettia S…

Are plant sales up or down compared to last year? How did Black Friday set the tone for this season? What varieties and sizes were your best sellers? Did you try anything new this year to appeal to younger consumer demographics? We tackle all of these questions and more to help you understand the trends in Greenhouse Grower's 2016 Poinsettia Survey.

Read More

December 13, 2016

Dümmen Orange Shares Trends And Season-Extending Tips A…

As a purveyor of a wide collection of poinsettia and potted plant genetics, Dümmen Orange offered attendees a look at current trends – and a glimpse into the future – at its annual event in Columbus, OH.

Read More
Streptocarpus Ladyslippers Grape Ice (Green Fuse Botanicals)

September 27, 2016

9 New Blooming Potted Plants To Jazz Up The Home And Ga…

Blooming potted plants are the ideal gift for anyone, from a homesick college student to a spouse in need of some cheering up. Check out nine these new introductions hitting the retail market in 2017.

Read More
Eucomis arrangement from Golden State Bulb

August 19, 2016

What’s New With Blooming Potted Plants

From exotic orchids and lilies to flashy red cyclamen and jaunty gerberas, new blooming potted plants come in every shape, size, and color.

Read More
streptocarpus yellow blue eye, green fuse botanicals, march 2016

March 29, 2016

California Spring Trials: New Blooming Potted Plants Co…

Blooming potted plants are the gift that keeps on giving for consumers, and the growing opportunities in the gift plant market are opening up new possibilities for growers and retailers. Flower breeders exhibiting at the 2016 California Spring Trials (CAST) have several new blooming beauties of the potted plant variety to show off for the 2017 spring season. Before you head to California in a few weeks, take a look at the slideshow to get a preview. Which ones will you incorporate into production for 2017?     If you missed our annuals slideshows, don’t worry — you can check them out here. Because so many annuals are revealed at CAST, we had to build two slideshows — one for the Northern Region and one for the Central Region. Also, check out new perennials that will debut at the 2016 CAST. In the coming weeks, you can also see new woody ornamentals and edibles. Also, look […]

Read More

February 18, 2016

Poinsettia Survey Shows Strong Sales For Greenhouse Gro…

The year 2015 might have been one that many were glad to see in the rear view mirror, but for poinsettia growers, it was a good sales year — perhaps the strongest in quite a while. Compared to 2014, which was also widely deemed a success among growers for its seasonal cold at just the right time, good weather for shipping, and a good holiday spirit, the 2015 season was solid for a number of reasons. The weather, a rebounding economy, and increased demand all contributed to what growers said was a “very strong” sales season. “It was a strong year beginning to end due to great weather and quality product as the market demanded,” said Dan Chaney of Ivy Acres, in Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Poinsettia Survey.     “Sales were strong. Demand was better than the previous two years,” said Larry Windham of Windham Greenhouses Inc. “Very good. The […]

Read More

February 10, 2016

Poinsettia Production On The Decline

Poinsettia production is on the decline in several of the top 15 poinsettia-producing states.

Read More

February 1, 2016

12 New Poinsettias For Holiday Growing

Poinsettias are still a consumer favorite during the holidays for home décor and gift giving. For greenhouse growers looking to get a jumpstart on purchasing young plants for the 2016 poinsettia growing season, there is no shortage of great varieties to choose from. Here are 12 new varieties to keep in mind for holiday product offerings.

Read More

January 26, 2016

Beekenkamp And Danziger Partner To Distribute Poinsetti…

Danziger is continuing to expand its portfolio of products to the U.S. market with the addition of poinsettia cuttings of Beekenkamp’s varieties.

Read More

January 24, 2016

Positive Consumer Experiences Help Advance The Orchid C…

HGTV HOME Plant Collection plans to expand its Fresh Style product line through a partnership with Green Circle Growers (Oberlin, Ohio), which will supply decorative orchids, tropical plants, and indoor garden combinations. Greenhouse Grower asked Maxwell Sherer about Green Circle's orchid program, the latest trends he’s seeing, and where he thinks orchid growing is headed in the future.

Read More
Feature Image - Tropical Hibiscus

September 18, 2015

How To Grow Tropical Hibiscus

With their bright blooms and hot colors, tropical Hibiscus are popular blooming potted plants for outdoor living spaces and even indoor decór in wintry months. Here’s how to grow them successfully.

Read More
Cayman

August 17, 2015

21 New Blooming Potted Plants For Trouble-Free Greenhou…

Blooming potted plants brighten up almost any occasion. With new colors and an abundance of blooms, these 21 new introductions add a unique, finishing touch to even the most diversified crop mix. Here are 21 new varieties available in 2015 that will hit retail in 2016.

Read More
2014 Poinsettia Season Report

March 18, 2015

Download Greenhouse Grower’s 2014 Poinsettia Seas…

Poinsettia growers report a strong year in 2014, thanks to a few conditions. Seasonal cold at just the right time put consumers in a festive mood to buy early and often, and with no big snowstorms to hold up shipments and a reduction of supply available in the market, the season was strong from start to finish. Greenhouse Grower’s 2014 Poinsettia Survey received 143 responses from growers around the country. Here, you can download the complete results of the survey, by filling out the form.

Read More

March 17, 2015

16 New Blooming Potted Plants You’ll See At The 2…

Blooming potted plants are perfect gift items, and they put the finishing touch on any style of home decor. So when new varieties come on the market, growers and retailers alike take note of plants they know are going to make consumers happy. Check out the slideshow to see some of the new blooming potted plants making their debut to the trade this spring.

Read More