European Furniture Makers Value Adhesive Performance Over Price

Research from international market analysts at Frost & Sullivan reveals that in the European furniture and woodworking adhesives business, customers place more emphasis on product performance and delivery than on price and technical support when choosing a supplier. The study interviewed customers throughout the furniture industry and discovered their perception of suppliers and their purchasing needs. It also asked customers to rate their suppliers in terms of customer satisfaction and highlight areas of supplier strength and weakness.

Of the customers interviewed, product performance was cited as the most important of all purchasing criteria. Product performance encompasses bond durability; coverage per liter or kilogram; ease of application; application time; and resistance to heat, water and moisture.

Louise Earnshaw, research manager with Frost & Sullivan, says, "Not all these factors were of equal importance to the end users. Bond durability is by far the most important factor. By definition, adhesives stick pieces together, and furniture manufacturers expect this bond to last. We found that the majority of customers remain satisfied with their current adhesive supplier's products and service, but many expressed a desire for additional offerings or improvements to existing offerings. They want products that are environmentally friendly, fireproof, easy to apply and have better weather resistance."

The $423-million market for furniture adhesives represents 11 percent of the total Western European adhesive market. However, it is less than 2 percent of the total cost for raw materials for the European furniture industry. As a result, adhesive suppliers are faced with the dilemma that the furniture industry is an important segment for them, while adhesives are a relatively unimportant purchase for furniture manufacturers.

In addition, the report shows that furniture manufacturers are extremely loyal to their adhesives suppliers. Changing suppliers involves investment and effort to adjust current operations to the new products. Moreover, risks exist that the new adhesive will fail to perform as expected over the years, and end users are not prepared to take these risks for a component that is only a fraction of their total costs.

Consequently, furniture manufacturers are very reluctant to change their supplier of adhesives once they have found a company that provides them with a good-quality product and a reasonable service. As a result, adhesives suppliers struggle to gain new customers from their competitors. Therefore, the most viable way of increasing sales of woodworking adhesives is by growing existing business.

End users value technological innovation from their suppliers, as they see it as a means of improving their own products. Increased resistance to weather factors, greater bond durability and more environmentally friendly products are some of the improvements that suppliers can introduce to their customers in order to grow sales.

Wood Composites Drive Growth

However, much of the market's growth stems from the increased consumption of wood composites, particularly medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and oriented strand board (OSB), to reduce costs for housing and furniture.

Europe has several of the world's fastest growing wood-composite markets. In 1999, production of OSB went up 46 percent to nearly 1 million cubic meters, and production of MDF rose 10 percent to 7.3 million cubic meters, according to the annual forest-products market review of the United Nations' Economic Commission for Europe (ECE).

The Frost & Sullivan survey includes interviews with end users in the furniture and woodworking industry. The regional breakdown of interviews approximately represents the actual share of furniture production by region and targets some of the largest furniture manufacturers in Western Europe. Adhesives manufacturers who buy the report will be able to see what their customers think about them and their competition, and gain an understanding of the drivers, restraints and challenges in this highly competitive market.

Frost & Sullivan is an international marketing consulting company that monitors a comprehensive spectrum of chemical markets for trends, market measurements and strategies. This ongoing research is utilized to complement a series of research publications to support industry participants with customized consulting needs.

For unlimited access to constantly updated chemical-market news written exclusively by Frost & Sullivan's team of industry experts, visit

Furniture and Woodworking Adhesives End User Study (Report Code 380039) is available for purchase from Frost & Sullivan, 4100 Chancellor Court, Oxford Business Park, Oxford, OX4 2GX, UK. For more information, call Bill Stringer at +44 (0) 1865 398651 or e-mail Or Circle No. 255.