COLLEGE STATION — Geraniums are red, violets are blue. And the price had better be right, too. At least that’s what one Texas A&M agricultural economist found out when he and several other economists studied consumer preferences in geraniums.
Consumers in Texas, Delaware, Alabama, North Carolina and Kentucky were asked to rank color, leaf variegation (or color pattern) and price as considerations when they bought geraniums, one of the three most popular potted plants in the United States, said Dr. Charles Hall of College Station.
Researchers also were interested in finding out whether consumers would buy a blue geranium. There aren’t any blue geraniums on the market yet. Therefore, in this study, consumers were given slides of the blue color taken from another type of flower and transposed onto another color of geranium.
What they found was that color and leaf variegation were the two most important factors in the purchasing decision for Texas consumers. And Texans wanted red geraniums with a plain dark green leaf.
Pinks and whites really weren’t preferred by this state’s consumers. However, “consumers in the Southeast just ate those kinds of things up,” Hall said.
And the blue geranium? Overall, it was the least preferred, but in some parts of the country, consumers loved it. Breeding a blue geranium “may not be a particularly good idea for Texas consumers, but in the Southeast or the Northeast, that may be an option,” he said.
The third most important factor for Texas consumers was price.
In all five markets studied, flower color was the most important component of the decision to buy geraniums, according to the study. Delaware consumers placed the highest importance on flower color (62 percent of their decision to buy), while Texas placed the least (56 percent).
Leaf variegation was the second most important factor in the other states as well. Texas consumers placed the most emphasis on this attribute (30 percent) while Delaware placed the lowest (22 percent).
Red geraniums with a plain green leaf priced at $1.39 in a 4-inch pot were preferred by all consumers in all markets except Delaware. Consumers in that state most preferred a lavender geranium with zonal variegation on the leaves.
What does all this mean? Hall said that marketing strategies for new geraniums should be focused on flower color. Additionally, retailers may want to consider grouping like colors when arranging plants in their garden centers.
Other researchers were located at Auburn University in Alabama, the University of Delaware, University of Georgia and North Carolina State University.