Assessments of Bare-root Liner Quality and Purchasing Decisions Made by Green Industry Professionals
Production of high-quality nursery liners has long been a foundation principle for enabling success and business longevity in the competitive nursery industry. Unfortunately, many different characteristics can be used to define liner "quality," ranging from physiological parameters measurable in scientific studies field establishment success and transplant production performance to gut-level hunches on the part of growers. A more complete understanding of what buyers are looking for in a bare-root liner would significantly enhance the success of producers in meeting the demands of end-users. As a result, a choice study involving a point-of-purchase simulation was designed to assess preferences of green industry professionals when viewing bare-root 1 + 0 nursery liners. A conjoint design was used for this study and involved six key attributes of liners: 1) number of first-order lateral roots (FOLR); 2) price; 3) production region; and uniformities of 4) height; 5) canopy density; and 6) liner caliper. A visual survey based on a large, color graphic depicting six distinct bare-root 1 + 0 liners with different combinations of attributes was administered together with a demographic questionnaire at four different green industry tradeshows and extension grower education and outreach venues in the southeastern United States. Results from 248 completed surveys corroborated previously reported results suggesting that high FOLR is the most important attribute influencing preference for 1 + 0 liner products followed by uniform liner height and canopy density. Contrary to a priori expectations, neither price nor region of production substantially influenced product preference. Utility values were calculated for each attribute level using outputs from the experimental model. These values can be used by growers to adjust production methods to improve liners with attributes that end-users value most. In addition, growers will be able to better estimate product ratings, redirect marketing efforts, and assess sales potential for various bare-root 1 + 0 liner products in U.S. markets.
Jeffers, Andrew, Palma, Marco, Klingeman, William E., Hall, Charles, Buckley, David, Kopsell, Dean. Assessments of Bare-root Liner Quality and Purchasing Decisions Made by Green Industry Professionals HortScience 2009 44: 717-724