Wood, in many senses, is unique among consumer products and has a number of characteristics that set it apart from other products. Some characteristics are common among species and include color, growth rate/ring density (growth rings per inch), pattern of growth rings (grain texture or pattern), and character marks (knots, stains, insect damage, etc.). Understanding consumer preferences of characteristics and species can aid in the marketing of U.S. species, as manufacturers will have the opportunity to use preference knowledge to promote their products. This is important, because in the past decade much of U.S. furniture, and other wood products manufacturing, have moved overseas as a result of globalization. This is problematic for at least three-reasons: 1) the loss of traditional hardwood markets, 2) foreign manufacturing creates opportunity for non-U.S. species to be substituted in manufacturing instead of using U.S. hardwoods, and 3) potential decreased revenues for U.S. timberland owners due to decreased market demand and stumpage prices.
The consumer acceptance of common wood characteristics has not been addressed, nor species preference in regards to country of origin. Thus, knowledge gaps exist about wood characteristics and species preferences. We seek to understand consumer preferences for a variety of U.S. and foreign species and their associated characteristics to enhance industry competitiveness and market opportunities for both the manufacturer and landowner. This information will be collected by means of field studies, where we survey consumers in shopping malls located in the eastern U.S.
By gaining a better understanding of what the consumer wants, we will provide manufacturers needed information on how to better market their hardwood products against foreign species and other substitute products. A primary objective is determining industrial and end-consumer preferences of growth characteristics, in particular, ring density (growth rings per inch: loose, medium, fine) and ring texture (wood products with fast-to-slow growth and/or slow-to-fast growth concurrently) and color will be assessed – hue and consistency of color. These findings also can be directly applied to the management of our hardwood forests. This information is distributed directly to the forest products industry, state forestry agencies, utilization foresters, consultants, and others involved in planning production and making decisions about future directions and markets.
Alderman, Delton, Kent Nakamoto, and David Brinberg. 2005. Hardwood veneer attribute assessment, social judgment theory and ramifications for procurement and manufacturing. Proceedings paper: International Symposium on Wood Science Technologies, Yokohama, Japan.
Wiedenbeck, Jan, Michael Wiemann, Delton Alderman, John Baumgras, and Bill Luppold. 2004. Defining hardwood veneer log quality attributes. USDA Forest Service, NE-GTR-313.
- Delton Alderman, Principal Investigator, USDA Forest Service-Northern Research Station, Research Forest Products Technologist
- Matthew Bumgardner, USDA Forest Service-Northern Research Station, Research Forest Products Technologist
- Dr. David Brinberg, Virginia Tech
- Dr. Kent Nakamoto, Virginia Tech
- Dr. Scott Bowe, University of Wisconsin-Madison
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