We asked our customers: “Why choose IKEA’s particleboard kitchen cabinets over another company’s plywood ones?”
IKEA customers prefer particleboard. But why, when so many people think plywood is better?
Don’t underestimate an IKEA kitchen customer. Sure, they like those glossy green cabinet doors, but they tend to know more about cabinet box construction and materials than you would think.
Why Particleboard Beats Plywood
We’re fanatics about learning more about why IKEA kitchen customers chose IKEA over all other options.
Before we started asking, we had thought particleboard would be a reason why an IKEA customer would not buy.
We were surprised (and pleased!) to discover the extent to which so many IKEA customers had investigated the “particleboard, or plywood?” question. Their vote was for particleboard.
- Customers know cabinets made by expensive brands like Kraftmaid, just like IKEA, are made from particleboard. If particleboard is good enough for premium European cabinet brands, it’s definitely good enough for the more affordable IKEA options.
- Our customers were not only okay with particleboard, they preferred it to imported plywood cabinets, particularly those sold online, those in-stock at some home centers, and those through low-cost cabinet retailers.
Turns out one of the selling points of particleboard is that, unlike plywood, you can modify it quite easily.
- Lots of IKEA customers modify their kitchen cabinets; for example: reduce widths, under-counter microwaves, etc.. They know that they can’t modify plywood as easily but can pretty much modify what they want with particle board.
Is plywood stronger? More long-lasting? Our data show IKEA customers don’t really care.
- IKEA kitchen customers have rejected the assumption that plywood is the greatest cabinet construction material ever.
Many companies that sell plywood cabinets think plywood is the selling point. They believe they can simply advertise, “Our cabinets are all plywood!” and the customers will arrive in droves.
- Sadly, nobody told those companies that plywood-as-selling-point stopped working fifteen years ago, when they began selling plywood cabinets from Asia.
Many home centers and cabinet warehouses also think plywood cabinets that use framed construction are the selling point.
- IKEA kitchen customers find the styling of those framed cabinets basic, clunky, and even worse, boring. They ask, “If plywood cabinets are so strong, why do they need that center stile, anyway?”
Women Customers Don’t Like Plywood
Today’s IKEA customers can’t be convinced that plywood cabinets are better. Women customers in particular are concerned that:
- Plywood cabinets are not Carb Compliant
- Different plywood cabinets are made with different chemicals and adhesives, some of which can be more harmful to their families than others
- Online retailers don’t have showroom where they can verify the quality of the plywood themselves
- Online retailers can’t validate how their imported plywood cabinets meet regulations and specifications, because the plywood is imported
The Final Word on Particleboard
It’s not just that the IKEA customer is comfortable with particle board, it’s that they see plywood as inferior. You wouldn’t have thought so, but some customers are motivated to buy IKEA kitchens because of their particle board cabinet construction.