Architects and designers have long specified wood to bring warmth and beauty to their clients’ homes and commercial spaces. But today, many tree species are endangered or threatened. Wilsonart, a leading manufacturer of engineered surfaces, including laminate, realized that the design community needed a better understanding of endangered trees to make more environmentally responsible sourcing decisions. They hoped to create an educational program that would help designers and architects identify endangered woods and specify more sustainable alternatives, including Wilsonart Laminate.
To inform program content, SMS Research Advisors conducted a nationwide survey of key industry stakeholders, gauging awareness, attitudes and behaviors around wood conservation. We identified misconceptions related to sustainability issues, regulations and the consequences of using endangered woods. We also tested proposed messaging for audience resonance and assessed the best channels for promoting the program.
Findings validated Wilsonart’s suspicions: Industry professionals clearly lacked information and guidance on the use of endangered or threatened woods. In fact, 99 percent of the stakeholders surveyed could not accurately identify what woods were endangered, threatened or safe to use. Even more alarming was the widespread lack of knowledge about legal regulations meant to protect threatened or endangered species. Padilla used the insights from SMS Research Advisors to develop an educational event and marketing program, demonstrating Wilsonart’s commitment to sustainability – and its willingness to invest in the design community’s professional education. The multichannel marketing and educational program exceeded Wilsonart’s participation goals and galvanized its role as an ethical and committed industry leader.