Consumer preferences for kitchen cabinets made from red alder: a comparison to other hardwoods.
In Alaska, red alder (Alnus rubra Bong.) is an abundant but commercially underutilized species despite having properties suitable for higher value products, including furniture and cabinetry. However, it laces the name recognition of mote traditional hardwoods. Our research measured the effect of this lack of familiarity on consumer preferences for red alder products, allowing the development of more effective marketing strategies for the species. Our study wad conducted in two West Coast markets--Seattle, WA, and Anchorage, AK, where attendees at home shows were surveyed about their preferences for cabinet doors made from several different species: cherry (Pruner spp.), red oak ( Quercus rubra), hickory (Carya spp.), maple (Acer spp.), and three red alder doors with different levels of stain. Two measures of consumer preference were used: relative popularity (percent of time chosen as favorite), and willingness to pay (the price premium consumers were willing to pay for their favorite versus second favorite door).
Maple and cherry doors were overall the most popular doors, as measured by percent of time chosen as favorite. Cherry and red oak showed large increases in popularity when their species names were known, whereas all other species declined in popularity (based on chi-square evaluations). All three alder doors declined in popularity when their names were known, with heavy-stained alder exhibiting the steepest decline. Estimates of mean willingness to pay ranged from $15.70 for moderate-stained alder to $39.30 for maple, suggesting that consumers are willing to pay a significant price premium for their favorite door. With the exception of oak and cherry, doors that were chosen as favorite more (less) often, commanded a higher (lower) price premium. Therefore, doors that are more popular have potential advantages in achieving higher market shares and greater price premiums. Results suggest that when marketing red alder products little, if any, emphasis should be placed on the red alder name; rather emphasis should be placed on red alder's visual characteristics.