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Consumer Demand Trends for Easter Lilies
Drs. Tom & Tim Prince, Prince & Prince, Inc., Columbus, Ohio
Highlights of this article were published in the March, 2003 issue of Greenhouse Grower magazine
NOTE: Updated consumer floral-purchasing trends are available in the Prince & Prince U.S. Consumer Floral Tracking Survey, now available as a one-day, on-site, comprehensive seminar, with Q&A session, or as a "Seminar on Flash". Click on "SEMINARS" from the P&P Home Page.
Easter lilies are the most-symbolic plants for the Easter Holiday season. In 2001, about 9.6 million potted Easter lily plants were produced in the 36 states surveyed for the USDA, with a wholesale value of about 38.5 million, a 3% gain in value over the prior year (Floriculture Crops, USDA, NASS)). Although much University extension-based literature is written annually about Easter lily production, little is known about the ultimate consumers of these traditional Holiday plants.
In this article, we extract consumer floral purchasing data from several Prince & Prince surveys, and model consumer demographics that influence Easter lily purchasing. In addition, we combine this consumer trend information with US household Census projections and make some future demand projections for Easter lily purchasing. Results show that modest gains in Easter lily demand are predicted in the US over the next ten years.
Our Market Studies & Analyses
Since 1996, Prince & Prince has monitored the consumer floral marketplace with its periodic nationwide survey, "Consumers Rate Their Floral Outlets". In these studies, we measured the consumer household incidence of purchasing numerous floral products, including Easter lilies. By household purchasing incidence, we mean the purchase of one or more potted Easter lilies by the household during the previous holiday period.
In order to perform an in-depth analysis of consumer demographic trends leading to future Easter Lily purchasing, we pooled purchasing incidence data for Easter lilies across our three study periods (1996, 1998, and 2000). This provided us data from over 3,300 randomly-selected floral buying households throughout the US. Due to the nature of our survey, our respondents tend to be floral buyers, as over 95% of our households had purchased at least one floral product over the prior year. The surveys also collected various consumer demographic measurements that are used in our analysis (Table 1).
Our methodology comprised "tree segmentation modeling", a data-mining research technique that is efficient in uncovering relationships in a database structure (see "About Our Analysis"). The output from this analysis results in a predictive tree diagram that succinctly shows how the purchasing of Easter lilies and consumer demographics are related.
Household Easter Lily Purchasing
The left-most box in the tree diagram (see Figure) reveals that across 3,300+ randomly-selected US floral-buying households, 24% had purchased at least one or more Easter lily plants annually. The household demographic characteristic that best distinguishes high and low purchase incidence for Easter lilies (from all of those listed in Table 1) is the age of the respondent. This means that the age demographic is the most important underlying consumer factor that distinguishes purchasing. Floral buying households where the respondent is under 45 years old have only a 20% likelihood of Easter lily purchase. This likelihood increases to 25% for those aged 45-54 or over 75, and the purchase likelihood reaches its highest level of 30% for those aged 55-74.
The top-third portion of our tree diagram explores in greater detail the highest purchase likelihood group, those aged 55-74. For this group, region of the country is the next best determinate of purchase likelihood. Floral buyers in the West region are only 21% likely to buy an Easter lily while the likelihood is 32% in all other US regions. An additional demographic, education level, further determines Easter lily purchase likelihood of those aged 55-74 living in other than the West region. While a college/technical education in the household raises purchase likelihood above that for only high school, a graduate/professional education actually reduces purchase likelihood. This suggests that the Easter lily plant may lack some attributes for the more sophisticated tastes and lifestyles of the highest-educated consumer segments.
For households where the respondent is aged 45-54 or those aged 75 or older (middle-third portion of tree diagram), region again is the next best determinate of Easter lily purchase. Living in the South Central region reduces purchases likelihood to 18% from 25%. For this same age group in all other regions of the country, a household income over $50,000 improves purchase likelihood to 30%.
Households where the respondent is under 45 have the lowest purchase incidence of our age groups (bottom third of tree diagram). Household income above $100,000 improves likelihood of Easter lily purchase from 20% to 31%, and improves to 40% if children are in the household. For households with less than $100,000 annual household income, having a retiree in the household or living in the Northeast region provides some lift to Easter lily purchase likelihood.
Trends in US Age Demographics
Since the age demographic is key to Easter lily purchase likelihood, we examined projected Census trends in the age of US consumer householders, from the year 2000 through the year 2010. This provided us an understanding as to how age trends may affect future consumer demand for Easter Lilies. Table 2 shows actual US household numbers and projections by age of householder for the discriminating age groups shown in our tree diagram (under 45, 45-54, 55-74, etc.).
For the 55-74 age group with the highest Easter lily purchase likelihood (30%), the predicted change in the number of these households through 2010 is a sizable 32% increase (Table 2). This compares with a 9% increase in US households overall for the same time period. This age group (55-74) is also moderately large in size, comprising about 25% of all US households in 2000. Thus, the sizeable age demographic shift through 2010 will likely have a favorable impact on Easter lily demand by increasing the size of a moderately-sized age group that tends to buy more Easter lilies. However, the purchase likelihood for this age group is only slightly higher than the overall average (30% vs. 24%). Thus, we predict only moderate gains in Easter lily demand for this age group.
For those households where the respondent is aged 45-54 and 75 or older, we predict little gain in Easter lily demand, as purchase likelihood does not substantially differ from the overall US average (25% vs. 24%). However, there are double-digit gains predicted in the number of these households aged 45-54, and those aged 75 & older.
For those households where the respondent is under 45, we predict softened Easter lily demand. Buyers in this group have the lowest purchase likelihood for Easter lilies (20%), and the number of households in this age group is predicted to decline by 9% through 2010. This age group (under 45) is also comparatively large, comprising about 45% of all US households in 2000. However, we think the loss in projected Easter lily demand for this age group will be more than offset by the moderate projected gains in Easter lily demand of the 55-74 age segment.
This reporting has presented a model that predicts US household purchase incidence for Easter lilies based on key demographic characteristics of consumer households, and how these demographics are projected to change in the future. Age, geographic region, income, and education level of the household are key demographic factors that currently drive Easter lily purchase. A large projected rise in the number of householders aged 55-74 in the US over the next decade, combined with a slightly higher Easter lily purchase likelihood for this group, provides the basis for a projected moderate increase in Easter lily market demand.
An assumption made here is that purchasing patterns differ among age groups, and that the generational purchasing patterns of one age group do not carry-over unaltered into older age groups as the population matures. Research with some agricultural products show that the generational effect is small, compared with the age-group effect. Thus, as we age, we tend to change and become more like our parents and grandparents, in tastes, habits, and purchasing. However, this assumption has yet to be verified in the US floral industry with long-term studies over decades.
We suggest that floral retailers use the segmentation profiles of Easter lily purchasing shown in this research, and compare these with their own market demographics. These findings should help growers and retailers to identify new market opportunities for this most traditional Easter holiday potted plant.
About Our Analysis. To identify household demographic characteristics that most influence the incidence of Easter lily purchasing, we performed a "tree segmentation" analysis of our database. This research technique searches through our database to develop a predictive tree diagram that depicts groups of households that have high and low purchasing incidence for Easter lilies. The first branch in the tree diagram represents the best predictor demographic characteristic (of all those measured in Table 1) that most distinguishes high and low purchase incidence for Easter lilies. The overall group of households is then split on this characteristic, and the analysis repeats itself on the resulting household demographic groups. Subsequent branches in the tree diagrams represent additional predictors of purchasing incidence. All splits and branches in the tree diagrams are statistically significant. In essence, our tree segmentation model identifies the highly significant household demographics that largely predict Easter lily purchase, and reveals the priority sequence of those demographic characteristics.
The five Census regions shown in Table 1 are identified by the following states: Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT), North Central or Mid-West (IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MO, MN, NE, ND, OH, SD, WI), South Atlantic (DC, DE, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA, WV), South Central (AL, AR, KY, LA, MS, OK, TN, TX), and West (AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY).
About the Authors. Drs. Tom and Tim Prince, formerly of The Ohio State University, are brothers and co-founders of Prince & Prince, Inc., a leading marketing research specialist in the floral and green plant industries. Prince & Prince has completed more than 50 major marketing research reports for the floral and floral-related industries in the US, and has also conducted floral marketing research in Canada, the United Kingdom, Holland, and Germany. They conceptualize, design, and implement market studies and product tests for floral and green-plant suppliers, floral importers, wholesale florists, retail florists, and floral-industry associations. For more information about their marketing research and reports for sale, visit their web site at www.FloralMarketResearch.com.
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