Defining the Iconic Flower:

Study of consumer preferences finds fragrance is key

Consumer-assisted selection (CAS) is a research strategy that uses communication and input from consumers to understand desirable aspects of plants. In the plant breeding and cultivation industry, CAS is designed to increase consumers' proclivity for purchasing or using a product or service. A research team from the University of Florida Plant Innovation Program used the software suite IdeaMap® in a study of consumer preferences for flower products. Published in HortScience, the research report contains new information about specific flower attributes that drive consumer decisions.

"Despite the clear fascination humans have with flowers, very little empirical research has been conducted to investigate the biological, psychological, and/or neurological basis for this attraction," the researchers explained. "We used psychophysics to explore what aspects of flowers interest various demographic groups." They said that the research results can provide a framework for defining "the iconic flower" while illustrating variations in preferences between demographic groups. Understanding more about what a consumer values the most and delivering this information to the correct consumer can result in increased flower sales and enhanced consumer satisfaction, the study said.

The researchers used the IdeaMap® software suite and the concept of Mind Genomics® to analyze which features of flower products influence consumer perception. Two distinct groups of study participants (one in which the majority of respondents were over age 40, the other comprised of undergraduate students ages 18 to 24) completed an online study in which they were asked to rate traits including flower color, flower shape, flower fragrance, consumer health and wellness, purchase location, and flower use. The results of the two studies illustrated which elements of each flower category appealed to different demographics and were used to identify segments of the population that possessed similar mindsets regarding interest/disinterest in a flower product. "In both studies, the highest and lowest interest values were for elements from the flower fragrance category, indicating that floral fragrance is an important aspect of flowers with respect to current and future consumer satisfaction," the authors said.

The report also includes information on specific ethnic similarities and differences in the perception of flowers. These notable findings related to flower preferences within four identified ethnic sub-groups can be advantageous for developing and marketing and floral products for specific groups.

The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortScience electronic journal web site:

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