European Journal of Wood and Wood Products

, Volume 73, Issue 2, pp 259–270 | Cite as

Understanding the consumer: Multi-modal market research on consumer attitudes in Germany towards lightweight furniture and lightweight materials in furniture design



The market study presented in this paper examines consumer attitudes in Germany toward lightweight furniture and the use of lightweight wood-based materials in furniture design. The multi-modal technique employed in the study is based on quantitative and qualitative methodologies used in social and economic research. A representative survey of furniture customers was conducted (n = 1,000), and the study included conjoint analysis. The survey was supplemented by expert interviews with furniture sales staff, focus group and observation of customers when they purchase furniture. The weight of furniture made primarily of wood-based materials is of secondary importance from the consumer perspective (in contrast to more relevant factors such as quality, price and design). The results of conjoint analysis reveal that for the attribute “weight” lightweight furniture materials are considered to be of at least comparable value. However, lightweight furniture is only accepted or preferred as long as there is no explicit indication that the product is lightweight furniture or features lightweight design. The majority of customers are skeptical whether furniture made of lightweight materials has the same quality as furniture made of heavy materials. Because furniture weight is less relevant to consumers, there is no indication of a need pull effect (consumer-driven) for lightweight furniture at the present time or in the near future. On the other hand, consumers can be expected to have few reservations if more lightweight furniture is placed on the market in the future. So consumers are unlikely to resist a technology push on the part of furniture manufacturers.



The market study presented in this paper originated as “lightweight market—analysis of consumer attitudes to lightweight materials in furniture design” within the framework of the “OWL Lightweight Design Initiative” at OWL University of Applied Sciences. Funding was provided by the North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy and the European Union. My special thanks to Martin Stosch from OWL University of Applied Sciences.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Knauf ConsultingBielefeldGermany

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