How do consumers express their appreciation of wood surfaces? Norway spruce floors in Germany as an example

A variety of visually different floor samples are presented online to consumers. Based on their individual verbal judgements of appreciation for visual surface characteristics, four distinct groups of floor surfaces were identified. This allows directing design and marketing efforts more precisely towards consumersexpectations.


For high-end wood products, appearance is a key factor. Traditionally, manufacturers grade wood considering technical parameters and industrial customers’ requirements. In contrast, knowing the consumers’ verbal items would be of advantage for both producers and buyers. Three research questions are identified exploring possibilities to utilize consumers’ appreciations. (1) Is it possible to establish a consistent characterization with verbal items? (2) Can appreciation be linked to visual wood properties? (3) Can the great natural variety of wood surfaces be assigned to desirable product groups? Out of 57 spruce logs, 810 floor boards were produced and sorted into 15 ‘visual classes’ (VC). Images were retrieved and virtual floors composed from each VC. Consumers evaluated selected floor samples in an online survey using a set of 7 items. Hierarchical cluster analysis and discriminant analysis are applied to analyze the answers. Only 4 out of the 7 items (‘vividness’, ‘evenness’, ‘contrast’ and ‘stripes’) were sufficient to allocate the VCs to four groups which represent different consumer appreciations. Inverse assessments of different product groups support a more differentiated marketing. The results indicate that verbal judgements of high-end wood surfaces can hold advantages directing production and marketing efforts more towards consumers’ preferences and thus increasing satisfaction and added value.

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Manuel A, Leonhart R, Broman O, Becker G 2016. How do consumers express their appreciation of wood surfaces? Norway spruce floors in Germany as an example. Ann. For. Sci.: 1-10. 10.1007/s13595-016-0558-1.

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