Effects of Species Information and Furniture Price on Consumer Preferences for Selected Woods

Matthew Bumgardner, David Nicholls, Geoffrey Donovan

Abstract


Changing consumer tastes and species availability are influencing the design and manufacture of hardwood products. In addition, the globalization of wood product markets is exposing U.S. consumers to new species. This research evaluates consumer preferences for six domestic wood species—three from the eastern United States and three from the western United States. The survey was designed to evaluate four treatment effects including two price points and the presence vs. absence of species identification labels. Four different pieces of furniture (dresser, entertainment center, hutch, and desk) were considered. Data were collected at Pacific Northwest home shows in late 2004 and early 2005. There were no significant differences in the species preferences expressed by consumers between price points at either level of species information. This indicates that furniture price did not significantly influence species preferences for the selected pieces. However, there were significant differences in consumer species preferences with and without labels at the higher price points. For the entertainment center, preference was greater for cherry (Prunus serotina Ehrh.) when species information was provided, but oak (Quercus rubra L.) was preferred when no species label was provided. When viewing the hutch, consumers preferred cherry and maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) when species labels were present, whereas oak, birch (Betula papyrifera Marsh.), and spruce (Picea glauca (Moench) Voss) were preferred when no species labels were present. Lastly, for the desk, spruce was more preferred with no information, and cherry was more preferred when species information was included. No preference differences were detected for the dresser. Overall, consumers expressed the highest preference for cherry; the second most preferred species was oak. With the exception of oak, consumer knowledge of the species investigated was low. Based on the results of this study, it is recommended that species information be provided for furniture pieces made from cherry and maple at higher price points, as preferences for these species can be enhanced in such cases.

Keywords


Furniture;price;species;label;oak;cherry;alder

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