Consumers’ perceptions and preference profiles for wood surfaces tested with pairwise comparison in Germany


Chair of Forest Utilization, Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Freiburg, 79085, Freiburg, German; Social Psychology and Methodology, Institute of Psychology, University of Freiburg, 79085, Freiburg, German & Division Wood Science and Engineering, Department of Engineering Sciences and Mathematics, Luleå University of Technology, SE-931 87, Skellefteå, Sweden

Visual aspects of wood are appreciated in interior design and many other high-end applications. This study focuses on consumer preferences which are examined regarding visually different spruce floor samples. Results indicate specific market segments according to different consumer preference groups.

Wood for interior use is attractive to many consumers for aesthetic and ecological reasons. Visual attractiveness can be decisive for high added value. Industrial wood grading based on technical parameters is a common practice, but little is known about consumer preferences which could direct the production chain from the tree to the final product presented to the consumer. In this study, two objectives are addressed: (1) reducing the complexity of wood appearances based on consumers’ perceptions and (2) aggregating diverging preferences to consumer groups. Four hundred twenty-five boards from spruce logs were classified on the basis of their visual appearance. Fifteen visual classes of these boards were identified. From each of these classes, a representative floor sample was made with dimensions of 2 m × 1 m and a high-resolution image taken of it. These 15 images were then evaluated by consumers and grouped using multidimensional scaling. Finally, consumer preference profiles were analysed on the basis of latent class analysis. The first main result is that from the initial 15 classes which arose from the visual board sorting, consumers could objectively only distinguish seven from each other. The second main result is that among these seven classes, five of them were identified as the most liked. This contribution provides an objective methodology for the assessment of the visual preference of wooden products that may pave the avenue to more efficient allocation of the selected end products to the targeted groups of consumers.

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