Science into practice poinsettia consumer preference investigation

UK poinsettia production may reach five million pots a year, with 80 per cent of them standard 13cm types returning £1.50 per pot (total value £7.5m).

Growers face price pressure and competition from overseas, so choosing suitable varieties to meet existing demand is essential.

Previous HDC work (PC 279) examined consumer attitudes to and perceptions of poinsettia and suggested that quality and form were of equal or greater importance than price. PC 288 used consumer preference mapping to identify the characteristics most likely to encourage purchases. This information guides growers and helps in discussions with retailers.

Consumers liked uniformity of bract star growth, a broad bract width with a smooth surface and an overall uniformity of green leaf size. They did not like a layered head, variation of colour across bracts, bareness of ankle and scars from cyathia abscission.

Three distinct "liking" segments were identified, offering potential for growing a range of varieties targeted according to a specific consumer segment. Forty-two per cent of the market were traditionalists with strong views that bract colour should be deep-red with contrasting deep-green foliage. But 36 per cent were very willing to try something new and a further 22 per cent might consider, with careful marketing, trialling more novel varieties.

Contrary to some concern in the industry, poinsettias were not thought to be old fashioned - 75 per cent considered them stylish and suitable for use in modern decor. Although poinsettias were strongly associated with Christmas, this seemed to be more about availability, opening an opportunity for extending the season.


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