Consumer Surveys: The Basics

After I walked away with a heirloom tomato plant called Mr. Stripey and $27 cash, my original perception of consumers survey shifted. In the past, I strayed away from participation in consumer surveys for a small cash reward because it seemed to easy, too lucky, and to be honest, I did not fully understand them. But today that changed to a positive opinion.

Agricultural Economics

Economics is a sector of agriculture often overlooked and like any industry, people speak different languages based upon the role they play. In agriculture, some speak the language of plants, animals or soils, but there are also those that speak the language of the dollar sign. This is where economics and understanding the market is essential to agricultural businesses.

Consumer behavior is what drives the ‘who’ and ‘how much’ factors plant producers should be aware of when considering financial decisions of their business as this shifts over time and demographics. Studies like the one I attended help provide insight on what attracts potential consumers and factors that push away consumers to another product.

What’s a consumer survey?

A consumer survey is research being done to analyze preferences and to better understand how these preferences are created.

Participants voluntarily can answer survey questions about their preferences on what product to buy and at what price. This ranges from the actual product itself, the container, packaging and/or the labels on a product.

The Mid-Florida Research and Education Center has its own consumer behavior insight lab, led by Dr. Hayk Khachatryan to support agricultural economics research.

For example, I participated in a consumer survey focused on the price I would pay for a plant based on the type of plant (e.g. tomato versus blueberry plant), labels on the plant pots about production processes (such as GMO or non-GMO, fair trade, fair pay for workers), where I purchase plants and how frequently. The price I was willing to pay was found by the researchers holding an auction and how much money I was willing to bid of my $30 total participation reward on a plant variety.

How long did it take?

About an hour or so. This depends on the survey being done and your personal speed of completing questions and reading instructions.

Do you do one or multiple activities?

This depends on the research taking place and the time allowed for the survey. There are clear instructions and a moderator to answer questions to keep the whole group moving at the same pace. The consumer survey I attended had four different parts: a short reading, mini quiz, online auction and digital survey.

In addition, eye tracking technology was used to track what attracts participants’ eyes to the plants, labels, and the wording on the labels.

After my recent positive experience though I can say I would be happy to participate in future consumer surveys, without or without a cash incentive. A consumer survey is easy to do and can only take about an hour or so. This research helps to further the scope of economics surrounding plant production and preferences of consumers in an ever-changing market.

For more information about Dr. Khachatryan’s research and lab, check out his work here or read one of his EDIS publications about consumer preferences here.

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