An analysis of the retail customer of CCA pressure treated lumber, timbers and plywood

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Professional builders (PRO's) and do-it-yourself (DIY) households throughout the U.S. were surveyed individually to assess their overall knowledge/awareness, product and service attribute preference and the general product quality and risk perceptions of CCA pressure treated lumber products. Primary data were acquired via two separate nationwide mail surveys; one included 3,361 PRO's, the other was administered to 3,224 households.

Findings indicate that each of these retail customer groups is comprised of distinct subsegments that may be distinguished in various ways. These meaningful PRO segmentation strategies emerged from analysis of 543 PRO respondents portraying treated lumber customers according to the following: (1) geographic region as characterized by product and service attribute preferences, opinions, knowledge and demographics, (2) quality perceptions in terms of the relationship between benefits sought and product quality perception opinions and (3) physical risk or safety perceptions based on a risk personality type as delineated further according to three sets of psychographic predictor variable sets.

The 491 responding DIY'ers were segmented according to risk perception orientation similarly to the builders. In addition, the DIY'er was profiled with regional breakdowns for treated lumber usage, applications and purchase intent, the husband/wife involvement in treated lumber buying decisions, knowledge, and product and service attribute importance.

Consumer knowledge and awareness of pressure treated lumber products, in general, is very low. Only one-third of PRO's and 21% of DIY'ers could recall, unaided, at least one brand of treated lumber. Moreover, approximately one-third of all PRO and DIY respondents are knowledgeable about the preservative chemicals and a mere 38% of the 436 PRO respondents and 23% of the DIY respondents who have used treated lumber products from 1985-1987 could successfully identify the correct response from a multiple choice question which described the contents of Consumer Information Sheets (CIS's). Primarily through reading materials, Permanent Wood Foundations (PWF's) are well known among builders with 70% aware. However, only one-fourth of DIY'ers have ever heard of PWF systems.