Identifier

etd-06142005-181128

Degree

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Agricultural Economics

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Louisiana strawberry production has decreased over a period of years while national production has increased, leading to concern that Louisiana's strawberry industry might disappear. California, the leading producer state, has exploited its production advantages and marketing efficiency to increase production. The objectives of the study were (1) to identify strawberry attributes preferred by consumers in the selected market area, (2) to analyze key demographic factors that influence the decision about sources of and preferences for strawberries, and (3) to identify key steps that the Louisiana strawberry industry might take to improve marketability of product and profitability of its production. Conjoint analysis (CA) was used to examine consumer preferences for selected product attributes of fresh strawberries in Louisiana. Conjoint designer was used to develop nine hypothetical strawberry products, and two holdout products were created from the attributes (container, pesticide strategy, price, and origin/brand) and their levels. The two container levels were a clear plastic clamshell design and the traditional plastic basket. Pesticide strategy's levels consisted of conventional control strategy and reduced pesticide strategy. Price's levels considered were $2.99, $2.49, and $1.99. Origin/brand's levels were California private company brand or label, Florida private company brand or label, and 'Louisiana produced' strawberries. Data were collected through mail surveys sent to 2,000 randomly selected consumers in Louisiana, the southern half of Mississippi including Jackson, and the metropolitan area of Mobile, Alabama. An Ordinary Least Squares model was used to analyze consumer preferences. The estimated part worth utility values were calculated and used in a cluster analysis to segment consumers based on their preferences. In addition, demographic categories were used to identify preferences among various socioeconomic groups. The results of the aggregate conjoint analysis indicated consumers put highest relative importance on origin/brand and, to a lesser degree, on price. Pesticide strategy and kind of retail container were rated much lower. CA results also were compared by demographics categories. The cluster analysis identified two clusters that exhibited high importance for origin/brand, one for price, and another for container and pesticide strategy. A standard marketing management model consisting of positioning, pricing, distribution, and promotional strategies was used as an outline for marketing implications. The results suggest that the Louisiana strawberry industry should market more through retail grocery chains and promote local origin/brand. The industry can differentiate itself from competitors by building on the quality, taste, and convenience of the Louisiana strawberry product in local grocery stores. In addition, there is an important segment of price-conscious consumers that might be tapped later in the growing season when prices have already dropped because of market saturation.

Date

2005

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Roger A. Hinson

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