Driving Demand for Arizona-Grown Medjool Dates

Principal Investigator: Carola Grebitus, with Renee Shaw Hughner

Contact Information: carola.grebitus@asu.edu

Funding information: U.S. Department of Agriculture; Agricultural Marketing Service, Grant/Award Number: #SCBGPFB15-24

Gross production of Medjool dates has approximately doubled in Arizona, with the growing region increasing to over 3,000 harvested acres. As supply of Medjool dates increases, consumer demand needs to increase correspondingly. Our research investigated consumer demand, preferences and willingness-to-pay (WTP) for Arizona-grown Medjool dates. A demand model was derived and key drivers of demand and WTP were determined to enable stakeholders to better understand consumers and to facilitate targeted marketing strategies to more effectively communicate benefits of Medjool dates.

Through a national consumer study comprising 3,000 participants, and employing conventional- and open-ended choice experiments, estimates of consumer demand, preferences and WTP for Medjool dates were determined. The data were collected in 2016 and were analyzed using univariate and multivariate statistical methods to provide insight on factors that affect the demand and WTP for Medjool dates. Key findings are that on average, consumers are willing to pay a premium for Arizona grown Medjool dates. Moreover, consumers seem to be willing to pay a premium for pesticide-free production labelling of Medjool dates. The model and related findings were shared with Arizona specialty crop growers during a workshop at Arizona State University and at the Agricultural Summit in Yuma, AZ.

Target-Marketing for Medjool Date Consumer Segments

Principal Investigator: Carola Grebitus, with Renee Shaw Hughner

Contact Information: carola.grebitus@asu.edu

Funding information: U.S. Department of Agriculture; Agricultural Marketing Service, Grant/Award Number: #SCBGPFB16-07

The objective of this project is to determine the latent consumer groups of shoppers that already prefer Arizona-grown Medjool dates, as well as to create demand for those that are currently unlikely to purchase Arizona-grown Medjool dates. Cluster analysis and bivariate ordered probit analysis of purchase likelihood are employed to identify consumer segments and related significant characteristics of Arizona-grown date shoppers.

Cluster analysis allows researchers to group consumers based on their similarities while evaluating the impacts of several product attributes simultaneously and deriving differences in purchase likelihood for specific segments of consumers, accounting for characteristics of consumers such as attitudes and socioeconomic characteristics. The bivariate ordered probit analysis allows to determine what drives consumers to purchase Arizona Grown dates versus California Grown dates as well as what drives them to purchase Medjool dates versus Deglet Noor dates. By creating target-oriented marketing activities, Arizona Medjool date growers will have a higher likelihood of successfully developing a message that resonates with consumers.

Perception of Arizona-Grown Medjool Dates

Principal Investigator: Carola Grebitus, with Renee Shaw Hughner and Ellen VanLoo

Contact Information: carola.grebitus@asu.edu

Funding information: U.S. Department of Agriculture; Agricultural Marketing Service, Grant/Award Number: SCBGP-FB18-05

Over the past few years, the gross production of Medjool dates has approximately doubled in Arizona, with the growing region increasing to over 7,500 harvested acres. As the supply of Medjool dates increases, consumer demand needs to increase correspondingly. The goal of this project is to create marketing and communication strategies that specifically target existing and potential customers of Arizona-grown Medjool dates. Eye tracking methodology is employed to analyze those factors to which consumers attend to when choosing Medjool dates. This research will shed light on those labelling characteristics consumers either find pertinent, or eye-catching, when shopping. This insight will lead to a better understanding of which information consumers attend to, as well as the role of labeling information at the point of purchase. This information will provide marketers the capability to better understand shoppers and create consumer-oriented packaging strategies to more effectively communicate the credence attributes of Medjool dates to specific consumer segments. Additionally, word association tests are analyzed to elicit consumers’ perceptions of dates, in general, and Arizona-grown Medjool dates, in particular. This analysis draws on two consumer surveys; a national online consumer study comprising 3,000 participants, and a consumer laboratory study comprising 118 participants. The models and related findings will be shared with Arizona specialty crop growers.