Consumer Preference Study of Characteristics of Hawaiian koa Wood Bowls


  • Eini C. Lowell USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station
  • Katherine Wilson University of Hawaii
  • Jan Wiedenbeck USDA Forest Service
  • Catherine Chan University of Hawaii
  • J. B. Friday University of Hawaii
  • Nicole Evans University of Hawaii


Acacia koa, conjoint choice, Hawaii, consumer preferences, wood products, young-growth Consumer Preference Study of Characteristics of Hawaiian Koa Wood Bowls 1


Koa (Acacia koa A. Gray), a species endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, has ecological, cultural, and economic
significance. Its wood is prized globally but today, most woodworkers only use koa wood from dead and dying
old-growth trees. The general perception of wood from young-growth koa is that it lacks the color and figure of
old-growth wood and is thus less appealing to consumers. To evaluate consumer preference of koa attributes, a
conjoint choice experiment was conducted using randomly combined levels of attributes, including color, figure
(curl), and price, with six identically shaped bowls from which respondents selected their preferences. The survey
was conducted at six locations on O’ahu (372 respondents) to poll a variety of koa product consumers. Latent
class analysis software was used to separate respondents into distinct classes based on expressed preferences.
The results identified five classes of respondents. Class 1 (24% of respondents) showed significant preference for
lower prices, medium color, and non-curly bowls. Class 2 (22% of respondents) showed significant preference for
light colored and curly bowls. Class 3 (20% of respondents) showed significant preference for light or medium
colored and curly bowls. Class 4 (19% of respondents) significantly preferred lower prices and light or medium
colored bowls. Class 5 (15% of respondents) also significantly preferred lower prices but they significantly preferred
darker colored and curly bowls as well. Opportunities exist for koa woodworkers to create products manufactured
from young-growth koa wood that appeal to different market segments. The ability to substitute young-growth
koa for the decreasing supply of old-growth wood can aid in promoting active management of the species.

Author Biography

Eini C. Lowell, USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station

Ms. Lowell is a research forest products technologist who works on wood quality issues and is involved in identifying value-added biomass utilization opportunities that benefit communities.


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