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    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.

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    Lowell, Eini C; Wilson, Katherine; Wiedenbeck, Jan; Chan, Catherine; Friday, J. B.; Evans, Nicole. 2017. Consumer preference study of characteristics of Hawaiian koa wood bowls. BioProducts Business 2(5): 42-51.


    Acacia koa, conjoint choice, Hawaii, consumer preferences, wood products, young-growth.

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