Over recent months 600 unsuspecting members of the UK public have been quizzed about wood. for good. About 250 questionnaires also went out to key targets of the campaign – specifiers, architects, manufacturers and contractors, plus companies in the timber trade, including Nordic and UK funders of the campaign.

The opinion-gathering exercise formed the basis of the most detailed analysis yet of the outcomes of wood. for good and was carried out by leading forestry and timber consultancy Jaakko Pöyry Consulting (JPC).

“Our aim was to assess how effective wood. for good has been to date and what we could learn from its activities to help plan for the third year of the campaign,” said Jan Wintzell, associate principal at JPC London.

Given that the campaign has run for only two years, Mr Wintzell started his analysis with modest expectations about its impact. The most he anticipated was a subtle change in underlying opinions and perceptions about wood. But both he and wood. for good managing director Charles Trevor seem to have been pleasantly surprised by the “measurable, positive results” of the campaign.

Rising consumption

Against its objective to boost annual UK sawn softwood consumption by 1.8 million m3 it fell some way short, with the total rising 200,000m3 in the first year and another 400,000m3 increase forecast for 2002.

“But, while we were right to set our original ambitious target of a 20% consumption increase, I think we can be satisfied that there has been a real rise,” said Mr Trevor.

Obviously, Mr Wintzell stressed, this increase could not be entirely attributed to wood. for good; the health of UK construction and the economy generally also clearly played a part. “But similar evaluation of the impact of the Wood Promotion Network promotion in North America and ProHolz in Austria show such campaigns do have a demonstrable effect,” said Mr Wintzell. “And, most significantly, we found that 56% of the backers of the campaign, the trade and industry representatives and specifiers we questioned, believed that wood. for good has contributed to increasing sales.”

JPC also concluded that wood. for good “has already impacted positively on consumers’ desire to use more wood”.

&#8220A key change we’ve seen during the campaign is that more of the UK industry has come to see promotion as a necessity. It’s not a luxury, it’s an investment in the future.”

Charles Trevor

According to the report, the proportion of consumers who believe wood is easy to use rose in the first two years of the campaign from 81% to 86%, with the percentage of these agreeing strongly with this statement jumping from 21% to 46%. The figures for those believing wood is “a material for the future” rose from 74% to 77% , with the level of “strong agreement” increasing from 31% to 44%.

Wood’s Achilles’ heel in public perception, said Mr Wintzell, remained the environment: “When timber is associated with chainsaws and forests, the reaction tends to be negative.” But, he added, wood. for good did seem to have had some effect here too. The proportion of consumers accepting the wood. for good slogan that “for every tree cut down, two are planted” has risen from 38% to 48%, while the level believing that European tree cover is rising increased from 37% to 44%.

Having impacted on perceptions of wood through advertising and promotion, JPC concludes the campaign should now move to a ‘fulfillment’ phase. This means a more educative approach for specifiers and consumers – helping them actually use wood products – and broadening the support base of the campaign itself.

The latter process is already under way, said Mr Trevor. Seminars are planned to highlight how companies can “buy in” to the campaign and wider licensing of the wood. for good logo is being evaluated.

Extended campaign?

The next decision will be whether to roll the campaign on beyond its original three-year schedule. And that begs the question of how this would be funded, with the Nordic backers hoping to spread their promotional efforts to the Continent.

From his assessment of wood. for good, Mr Wintzell is convinced it should continue. “Promotion is definitely needed,” he said. “The competition have not laid down their arms and, without a campaign, timber risks losing market share.”

And Mr Trevor is optimistic about securing longer-term support for wood. for good. “Another key change we’ve seen during the campaign is that more of the UK industry has come to see promotion as a necessity. It’s not a luxury, it’s an investment in the future.”