Plant Container Preferences for North American Consumers

Tuesday, July 23, 2013: 10:30 AM
Desert Salon 13-14 (Desert Springs J.W Marriott Resort )
Ben Campbell, Assistant Professor and Extension Economist , University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Bridget K. Behe , Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Jennifer Dennis , Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
Charles R. Hall, Professor and Ellison Chair , Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
Hayk Khachatryan, Ph.D , Food & Research Economics Department, University of Florida, Apopka, FL
Concepts of eco-friendly and sustainable products have become increasingly popular topics of investigation in many disciplines. Consumer products are increasingly being advertised by promoting their green or environmentally friendly attributes and characteristics, with the expectation of appealing to a larger consumer base.  Consequently, the need to investigate the impact of environmentally friendly attributes on choice behavior has escalated over the last decade.  According to the Google Scholar website, the term eco-friendly appears 2,420 times in article titles from 1990 to 2000 (November 2012) and the number of articles that include the term eco-friendly in their titles has increased almost tenfold (23,700 articles) from 2001 to 2012.  In order to better understand U.S. and Canadian consumer perceptions of eco-friendly and sustainable labeling, data was collected from the Global Marketing Institute database to acertain consumer preferences and behavior on purchasing behaviors, environmental attitudes, demographics and perceptions. We received 2,511 rsponses with 68% from the U.S. and 32% from Canada. Our hypotheses were that there would be differing perceptions from those having heard the terms before as well as between U.S. and Canadian consumers.  Further, we anticipated that these terms are beginning to become associated with local and organic. Finally we hypothesized that a definable subset of consumers would associate these terms with negative characteristics of expensive and a sales gimmick. Through the use of a U.S. and Canadian online survey, we failed to reject the hypotheses above.  We found that consumers having heard of eco-friendly and sustainable have differing perceptions from those saying they had never heard of them before. Approximately 5% and 8% of U.S. and Canadian consumers have not heard of the term eco-friendly, while 26% and 23% of U.S. and Canadian consumers have not heard of the term sustainable, respectively.