Purchasing Journey: Indoor/Outdoor Houseplants

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Purchasing Journey: Indoor/Outdoor Houseplants

Key Takeaways

  • Studies about plant purchases found that intent for purchase is influenced by price discounts, assurance of the viability of the plant and strategic signage. The cost of purchase is naturally important to consumers, though relative to other criteria, which varies from one consumer to another.
  • As revealed by an eye-tracking experiment at retail garden centers, consumers who are familiar with plants rely more on intrinsic cues about the plant quality (such as the container, label/tags, and signage), rather than external cues like price. While internal signals can influence consumers’ purchase decisions, providing external cues is also a key factor in motivating the consumer in their purchasing decision.
  • The most purchased plant category has been found to be the Flowering houseplants. An Associate Professor with the University of Florida, Dr. Hayk Khachatryan attributed this gravitation toward color and flowering plants as a subconscious reaction that takes place as a part of the visual sensory part of the brain.


We have provided information surrounding Purchasing Journey: Indoor/Outdoor Houseplants. This includes an analysis of the consumer/purchasing journey of houseplants owners in the United States. Specifically, we have provided insight into the steps behind decision-making towards buying a houseplant. This includes, but is not limited to, decision-making steps to buy the plant, what informs the purchase process, what impacts the decision to buy a houseplant and the impact of the source on the decision (acquisition through family-owned farms, nurseries, etc.)

The Decision Process

  • The decision to purchase houseplants begins with intent, which stems from various reasons. Prior study involving plant purchases revealed that factors influencing purchase intention include having a guarantee of the viability of the plant, price reductions, and clear, tactical signage.
  • Besides their looks, plants are beneficial to human life in a number of ways; for instance, research has revealed that being around plants speeds up healing process, improves mental health and boosts creativity. Also, surrounding a building with plants reduces the effect of sun radiation, thereby saving energy. The top 3 reasons for purchasing plants have been identified to be: air quality improvement, decoration, and to improve the home design. The reason behind the purchase would determine the type of plants to buy in most cases. It is important to find the right plant that fits the purpose or lifestyle of its owner. Houseplant is different from other decoration purchases — like art, candles, or throw pillows — because they are alive and demand constant care. Being around plants, the sense of responsibility and the joy of seeing them grow and flourish, is exceptionally beneficial for mental and physical health.
  • The cost of purchase is generally important to consumers, relative to other criteria, which varies by consumer. Factors such as price discounts, the individuals’ fundamental reference values, and perceptions of the brand quality, in the long run, influences the prospect of purchase. Plant consumers concentrate more on the plant attributes, considering that there is minimal packaging involved with plants at the point of purchase. Consumers who are familiar with plants rely more on intrinsic cues about the quality, rather than external cues like price.
  • The decision-making process of houseplant consumers for self and gift purchases differs. While self-purchasers depend more on newspapers or magazines and shop windows as their source of external information, gift-purchasers tend more toward word-of-mouth references and their personal inclinations. Since houseplant self-purchasers are possibly familiar with flowers, they may be more knowledgeable, resulting in a different behavior in their search for information. Gift-purchasers pay more attention to situational value and symbolic meaning, while self-purchasers focus more on price discounts, quality, and longevity.

What Informs The Purchase Process

  • Considerations for purchasing houseplants include: space availability, brightness of the location and time availability. The available space and location would determine the size of the plant, as you'll want a plant that fits or matches the ambiance. For indoor plants, a narrow space, would be ideal for a hanging plant or a tall skinny plant, while a broader plant would fit into a wide space. Light is significant for indoor plants and a major factor in its survival. The amount of sunlight in the available area should be a guide to the plant choice, for example, the philodendron is a low-light houseplant. Lastly, some plants are more demanding than others. Palms, Devils Ivy (trailing plant), Peace Lily, and Yucca Plants are a few examples of low maintenance houseplants.
  • Outdoor plant selection involves factors such as, aesthetics, function, management, and site adaptability, each category varying in priority based on the individual. The aesthetic qualities of plants include the shape of the plant and its foliage, flowers, fruit, and bark, a combination of which can result in artistic, creative presentations. However, the value of a plant goes further than aesthetic appeal, the function guides the selection of the plant type for a particular space, for example, shrub, tree, or perennial. It is important to determine if a plant will thrive in the soil and environmental conditions available. Such site availability factors as tolerance for conditions like as soil type, light levels and exposure. The quality of landscape management or maintenance ensures the long-term aesthetic appeal of any plant. Practices such as irrigation, pest control, fertilization, and pruning, are important factors to be considered in making plant picks.

Factors That Impact Purchase Decision

  • The acknowledgment of the need, information research, and assessment of the available options, affect the decision to purchase.
  • According to a Bloomberg News article, American millennial is credited with restoring the once-declining houseplant market. U.S. sales surged about 50% to $1.7 billion within 3 years, according to the National Gardening Association. Though growing indoor plants goes back to the ancient Chinese and the renowned Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the recent fad was prompted by social media, creating an opportunity for startups like The Sill, an online plant store that offers care advice.
  • A study of 10 types of houseplants revealed that the most purchased plant category is flowering plants. Dr. Hayk Khachatryan (Associate Professor, University of Florida) attributed the gravitation towards color and flowering plants as a subconscious reaction that happens as part of the visual sensory part of our brain. The container that houses the plant also influences the decision to purchase. The key container attributes being color, shape, style, and smart watering feature.

Impact of Plant Source on Purchase Decision

  • The Garden Centre or independent Nursery is typically the best place to buy good quality houseplants. A nursery will ideally offer plants that are well cared for, be on hand to offer advice and be a one-stop-shop for varied and diverse range. House decoration section in many superstores also sell houseplants. The plant selection may be varied, however, the staff members may not be knowledgeable enough to give advice.
  • Studies imply that consumers value local and organic ornamental plants, but the level of assigned significance to these features changes with geographical locations, hence the need to study consumer groups by location. For example, Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, and Texas consumers perceived plants with local origins as more important than organically produced ones. While, organic plants were preferred to locally grown plants by Maine consumers and consumers in Florida are interested in both local and organic variations.

Research Strategy

For this research on Purchasing Journey: Indoor/Outdoor Houseplants, we leveraged the most reputable sources of information that were available in the public domain, including articles from Bloomberg, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension and The National Library of Medicine (NLM).

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