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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Customer attitudes towards environmentally sound wood products in three British Columbian home improvement markets Forsyth, John Keith


Concern regarding the impact of economic activity on the environment has increased in recent years, causing environmental issues to move from the fringes to the centre of the business agenda. In the wood products sector, some observers propose that the increase in environmental concern is leading to changes in customers' attitudes and subsequently affecting their buying decisions as well as the profitability of wood products companies. However, little research has been undertaken to determine customers' attitudes towards environmentally sound wood products. Marketing experts frequently emphasise the need to know your customers and wood products companies who wish to plan successfully need to know as much as possible about their customers' attitudes towards environmentally sound wood products, such as: 1. the level of importance customers attribute to environmental attributes when buying wood products; 2. customers' attitudes towards the pricing of environmentally sound products; and 3. who are the most likely buyers of environmentally sound wood products. In this study we explore these three key issues within the home improvement market. To address these key issues, three hundred customer interviews were completed outside home improvement stores in the province of British Columbia, Canada. Our research found that: 1. customers firstly shop for quality and then price. Environmental product attributes are less important than many other product attributes when customers buy wood products from home improvement retailers. Environmental attributes, however, are still "somewhat important" when customers make buying decisions; 2. a majority of interviewees (67.3%) expressed a willingness to pay 5% more for certified (environmentally sound) wood products, while a majority (68.0%) also reported that they would not pay 10% more for such products; and 3. the most likely buyers of environmentally sound wood products cannot be readily identified by a set of common characteristics. While this study is limited in its geographic scope, it provides forest products manufacturers and home improvement retailers (in particular, marketing managers) with a better understanding of customers' attitudes towards environmentally sound wood products and helps provide a foundation for further research in this important area.

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