Semantron 23 Summer 2023

Behavioural economics and wine

about effects of different levels of aeration and aroma in glasses. However, research has also demonstrated that when participants are aware they are drinking from the correct glass, their enjoyment of a wine increases (Fischer, 1996). So, even if a consumer is unable to taste any difference, restaurants should still ensure they use the correct glassware to serve customers. A study by Raghubir and Krishna (1999) also indicated that most people believe that longer and taller glasses hold more liquid than shorter glasses. This could be used to the advantage of restaurants, while staying in the parameters of acceptable glasses, opting for thinner and taller glasses rather than shorter glasses so consumers feel they are getting a better value for money. Raghubir and Krishna also suggested that people drink more from taller glasses, making this an attractive option for restaurants. An informal study carried out in London by Kandasamy et al. offered participants a lager in either a plastic cup, a glass, or the correctly branded lager glass and discovered that the better the method of serving was, the higher the participants rated the lager. This further evidence for restaurant and wine bars to ensure that they serve their wine in the appropriate glass. Marketing messages: health Pinot Noir is consistently rated as the least unhealthy wine due to its lower sugar, calories, and alcohol content (Pacific Rim, 2021). So, it may be surprising to some that, in an increasingly health-conscious society, is it never marketed as such. This is because, associating wine or food with health is not always the best solution. Professor at McCombs School of Business, Raj Raghunathan led an experiment in 2006 in which participants were offered a selection of Indian food with a sauce that was described as either healthy or unhealthy. Those told that it was unhealthy later rated it 55% more highly than the group told it was healthy. There are some goods consumers do not believe should be healthy and are sceptical if they are, assuming that something has been sacrificed for this effect. Winemakers, supermarkets, and restaurants therefore avoid marketing wine as healthy as the negative consequences to the perceived quality of the wine are detrimental to enjoyment and sales. Environmental impact A very similar scenario is the case with environmental impact. A 2010 study found that in situations where ‘gentle’ attributes are desired from a product, being labelled as environmentally friendly is helpful. However, it is detrimental when strength-related attributes are desired (Luchs et al., 2010). It may, therefore, be beneficial for lighter wines such as some white wines to mention environmentally friendly procedures on the packaging. For a red wine, this may be inadvisable as it may detract from the perceived quality of the product in the eyes of the consumer, as it is a wine more commonly associated with strength. Purchase and consumption environment: music The environment in which a wine is purchased or consumed is surprisingly impactful on the experience of purchase and consumption. A 1999 study by Adrian North varied the music that was played in the wine aisle of a supermarket over a two-week period using either German or French (North, n.d.). When French music was played, 77% of wine sales were of French wines and when the music was German, 73% of wine sales were of German wines. This is an overwhelming majority and can easily be manipulated to the benefits of supermarkets. Say t hat the average price of Tesco’s German wines was £17, and the average price of their French wine’s was £10, playing German music could encourage consumers to opt for German wine instead, marginally increasing profits for no additional cost.


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