|dc.description.abstract||Almost 5,000 years after the first recorded watermelon harvest, people are still harvesting and eating watermelons today. However, different people prefer different attributes of the fruit. The main purpose of this study was to identify the influence certain consumer preferences have on watermelon purchasing behavior. The specific attributes examined in this study were flesh-color, seed content, form, lycopene content and price.
Consumer preference surveys were administered in several Alabama grocery stores in 2004. Respondents were asked to complete 19 demographic and purchasing questions as well as rate 16 pictorial representations of the watermelon products depicting various combinations of watermelon attributes.
The total sample’s distribution of preferred levels revealed that approximately 84 percent of the respondents preferred a red-fleshed watermelon, while 16 percent preferred a yellow-fleshed one. Looking at the total sample’s relative importance figures, flesh-color was the most important attribute with 30 percent of the consumer’s buying intention being influenced by this trait. The other attributes in order of decreasing relative importance were form, price, seed content and lycopene sticker possession.
A cluster analysis was then applied to identify consumer segments that were within the total sample. Three clusters were revealed – the “Seeing Red” group, the “Catch-all” group and the “Traditionalists.” The “Seeing Red” group placed 54 percent of their buying intention on the flesh-color attribute, and specifically the red-fleshed varieties of watermelon. The “Catch-All” group could possibly be a viable consumer segment, or a sort of catch-all group where respondents that didn’t fit into the other two clusters fell. If a real group, they placed almost equal relative importance on the price, seed content, flesh-color and form attributes. Specifically this group prefers $5, seedless, red, sliced or sectioned watermelons. The third cluster identified was the “Traditionalists.” This group preferred a whole, red, seeded watermelon.
Evaluating the preferences of the total sample and each of the clusters identified in this study could provide beneficial marketing information to retailers and all the way back through the production lines eventually providing consumer preference information to the watermelon growers. The entire watermelon industry could profit simply by knowing what their consumers prefer.||en_US