It’s not just for koalas anymore. Eucalyptus, in a specific hybrid specie known as Lyptus, came out on top in a recent consumer survey of hardwood preferences. The survey was conducted jointly by the USDA Forest Service, the University of Wisconsin, and Virginia Tech in an effort to help hardwood producers and manufacturers identify the hardwood attributes that are most important to consumers.

In the study, 1,008 consumers approached in shopping malls were shown samples of Lyptus, black cherry, white oak, European beech, sugar maple, rubberwood, and basswood in the form of unstained tabletops, as well as three plastic laminate samples of cherry, maple, and white oak.

Participants were asked to rank the aesthetic attributes of each hardwood, including color, color intensity, natural blemishes, grain density and pattern, warmness or coldness, naturalness, and finish. A scale of 1 to 7 was used with 1 meaning “I extremely like it” and 7 meaning “I extremely do not like it.”

Across the board, Lyptus and black cherry ranked highest, with average rankings of 2.11 and 2.41, respectively. Additionally, study participants were asked to rank their “willingness to pay” for each specie, and Lyptus and black cherry again returned the highest values. According to the report, the results indicate that color and color intensity were the most highly valued species attributes and that consumers are more interested in warm-looking woods. These gleanings can help both manufacturers and their distributors appropriately market hardwood products to consumers.

—Lauren Hunter, associate editor, REMODELING.